5 dumbest diet mistakes: #4

photo by Jim Bahn via Flickr

The list of Top 5 Dumbest Diet Mistakes continues with:

#4: Over-estimating the effects of exercise.  This mistake comes in two parts:

Part 1: I exercised.  I deserve a food reward.  Wrong.  The point of exercise for weight loss is to burn up some extra calories, so you have a calorie deficit.  When you have a deficit, your body has to pull energy out of fat cells to meet the demand.  If you keep topping off the tank, so to speak, with food rewards, you’ll never create a deficit, and fat cells will not shrink.

Part 2: Overestimating the calorie burning effects of exercise.  You go for a walk at lunch and assume you’ve burned off 500 calories, when actually you may only have burned off an extra 200 or less.  You end up feeling frustrated at your lack of progress, because your calorie burning estimations are way off the mark.  You thought that lunchtime walk would burn off a pound a week, but it’s only 1/2 lb.  Or you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, such as nursing or running a check out line.  At the end of the day you’re exhausted, and you equate that fatigue with calorie burning.  Certainly, standing is better than sitting, but it’s not aerobic calorie-burning activity.   Again, if your weight loss doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, you end up feeling frustrated.

Exercise is an essential part of long term weight management.  In fact, without exercise it’s almost impossible to be successful.  Exercise burns calories, and also contributes to other healthful metabolic changes, including normalization of appetite and improved mood.  The best exercise program includes aerobic activities like walking, jogging, swimming or bicycling, along with some resistance work with weights or circuit weight machines.  Just don’t use food treats to reward yourself for exercising, and be realistic about how much of a calorie deficit your activities are creating.

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