The struggle to lose weight is as much about being patient as it is calorie counting. You want results, and you want to see them now, not months from now. It can be frustrating to maintain your motivation, while being inundated by weight loss ads and before-and-after videos. And yet the key to losing weight and keeping it off is patience.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with some fundamentals.
To create a diet and a lifestyle that promotes weight loss and improves your overall health – without falling prey to fake shakes, pills, and potions that can do more harm than good – it’s vital to understand the basic science of weight loss.
Positive Energy Balance
Body weight accumulates when you consume more calories than you burn for a prolonged period of time. Quite simply, your body sends the extra energy into storage, and that storage typically builds up on the stomach, thighs, and love handles.
Negative Energy Balance
The upside is that if you consume less energy than you burn over time, you’ll achieve a negative energy balance and lose excess weight.
So, how long will it take you to lose a pound of fat?
In theory, you should be able to predict exactly how much weight you’ll lose and when, based on the type of cardio you perform and the number of calories you consume. If one pound of body fat is the equivalent of 3,500 stored calories, by eating 500 fewer calories per day than you burn over the course of 7 days, you should be able to lose a pound of fat per week, or 52 pounds per year. Right?
While this explanation has captivated the diet world for many years, it’s not the full story.
In reality, if you and your friend both cut 500 calories from your diet a day, you might not both lose one pound per week. In fact, one of you could lose weight while the other gains weight.
Why? Your gender, activity level, height, stature, body weight, diet composition, and overall health all play a role in your metabolic condition.
If you have a smaller frame and require fewer calories in the run of a day, then cutting 500 of them may be too aggressive of a target, and it may actually slow down your metabolic activity. Your body will think it is starving and will try to conserve body fat, the opposite of what you want to happen.
For those who have a larger body frame or overeat, cutting out 500 calories per day could still leave them with 1,000 more than they should be eating.
That being said, the larger your body frame, the quicker you can lose weight. After all, you can afford to burn off more fat without going into starvation mode.
Exercise and weight loss
At this point, you may be wondering whether you can eat whatever you want, as long as you balance out any excess calories through exercise. The relationship between exercise and weight loss is often misunderstood. Although it may come as a surprise, numerous studies conclude that exercise has, at best, a modest impact on weight loss. Although 100% of the energy we acquire each day comes from food, we only burn around 10 to 30 percent of it with physical activity.
In other words, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet.
A review found that diet plays the greatest role in body weight. More importantly, when an improved diet is combined with exercise (particularly resistance training), the body becomes healthier, stronger, and is better able to maintain weight loss long-term.term.
Amplifying the point, a randomized controlled trial, conducted in 2012, looked at whether diet, exercise, or the combination of the two was most effective among overweight-to-obese post-menopausal women. The researchers found that the average weight loss was highest in the diet and exercise group (10.8% of body weight), compared to diet (8.5%) or exercise (2.4%) alone.
Of course, regular exercise can help you to burn calories and build muscle, which increases your metabolic rate, and it can be a great motivator to stick with a healthy lifestyle. That’s why it is often recommended for weight loss. The point is that exercise alone is not enough to counteract the negative effects of an unhealthy diet.
Common barriers to weight loss
As noted in the introduction, losing weight is tied to psychology. For that reason, it’s worth reflecting on some of the most common obstacles you’ll encounter along your journey so that you can consider how you can work around them – rather than letting them stop you in your tracks.
1. Food can be addictive
In one study, sugar was found to be more addictive to lab rats than cocaine. There’s a strong sense in which these findings can be generalized to humans, because – like rats – our sweet receptors evolved in environments that were low in sugars (so we have yet to adapt to high concentrations).
Another study tested the addictive properties of junk foods, like fast food, fizzy drinks and sweets, finding that, at a neurobiological level, the neural substrates of these foods may be “… sufficient to explain why many people can have difficultly control[ling] the consumption of foods high in sugar when continuously exposed to them.”
2. Poor diet
Since it’s almost impossible to overeat whole foods because of their fibre and bulk, junk foods are usually the culprits behind weight gain. This is supported in a study that found that larger portions of high quality, non-processed foods lead to less weight gain than smaller portions of unhealthy options. So it’s not just about eating less, it’s about changing the way you eat.
Last year, we published a post about how knee pain can trap you in a weight gain cycle. Being unable to exercise due to pain can lead to weight gain, and even more joint pain. If you are trapped in a situation like this, taking small steps to reduce your food intake can make a big difference in the amount of pain you feel, just as it can help you to maintain your motivation.
On a deeper level, by finding a solution for your knee pain, you can also get more exercise and improve your overall quality of life.
One of the most difficult parts of losing weight is the suspense. When will it happen? Will I ever have the body of my dreams? A key part of successful weight loss comes down to sticking to healthy eating habits for the long haul.
But it’s worth the wait
It’s worth committing to your health and quality of life. Being mindful of what goes into your body is a great first step in the right direction. With time, you can guarantee that weight loss will follow.
Although it can be challenging to be patient, it is worth remembering that many people have done it before you, and some of them have had much further to go. As an added bonus, people who exercise and eat healthy have a lower risk of disease, better mental health, and report a higher quality of life.
In a word, patience is empowering.
If you suffer from knee or lower back pain which is preventing you from getting the exercise you want and need, AposHealth is a non-invasive treatment and has been used by over 100,000 people worldwide. Learn more about AposHealth here.