Before You Start Losing Weight | Even if it’s been years since you went on a diet or exercised, you may jump back into the weight-loss game with the same set of best practices you’ve always thought were supposed to be helpful, such as spending an hour on the treadmill and taking a leisurely stroll around the mall to burn extra calories.
However, times have changed, and a number of medical studies have proven that there are more effective and far healthier ways to lose weight than most of the methods you might have read about in a tabloid or learned in gym class decades ago.
Are you preparing to embark on an exciting new weight-loss journey? Here are three important things you should know before you set out to start losing weight.
1. Walking by itself won’t do the trick
While any amount of physical activity is great for your heart and overall health, you won’t necessarily experience weight loss or fat burning if you’re not sweating and kicking up the intensity level. In most cases, walking for 30 minutes or an hour will burn off far fewer calories than needed since you’re not working major muscle groups. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so if you want to lose at least one pound per week, you need to burn about 500 more calories per day than what you eat. Amp up your workout by swapping walking for running, or go on trail hikes that force you to go uphill and work major muscle groups. Intense bursts of physical activity done within a short period of time are more effective at fat burning than long, drawn-out cardio sessions.
2. Becoming vegan or vegetarian won’t result in automatic weight loss
Many people think that being vegan or vegetarian simply means eating a diet that lacks meat. But if you end up supplementing the meat in your diet with foods such as bread, pasta, dairy-free ice cream, and vegan pastries, you’re only going to gain weight instead of lose it. If you go vegan, make sure your diet is comprised mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Just because food is labeled as “vegan,” doesn’t mean it’s entirely healthy or ideal for weight loss.
3. Don’t eat just anything because you exercise regularly
Exercise can make you feel proud and accomplished — especially if you’ve had an exceptionally great workout. But just because you’re on the path to weight loss and exercise regularly, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for you to eat anything you want. In order for exercise to be successful, you need to eat healthy, nutritious foods that will allow you to effectively burn off fat while building and repairing muscle. At times, you may be tempted to reward yourself with alcohol, cupcakes, and other junk foods following a workout, but in reality, you’ll be doing your body more harm than good. If you want to reward yourself for a great workout, don’t look to food; instead, treat yourself to new athletic clothing or new music for your workout playlist.