Mar 15, 2021, 10:33 AM
Nicai de Guzman
Can You Lose Weight Without Exercising?
Let’s face it. We all want to look our best because looking our best helps us feel our best. This is no secret. For some reason, looking better is often associated with losing a little weight, but that’s easier said than done. Weight loss, for whatever reason, always entails sacrifice, from cutting back on the fish and chips to giving up telly hour for a run.
There are several paths to weight loss, but many people are unable to find the compromise between their goal weight and working hard. How many times have you heard someone who wants to lose a few stone say they’d rather quit eating than spend a session in the gym? While cutting back on food feels like the simplest and fastest solution, it is hardly the most effective one.
Can you just diet and not exercise?
To stop eating is the shorthand answer to weight loss. But, as with anything in life, there are consequences to taking shortcuts. Before you crash and burn with a crash diet, here are some things to think about:
1. You could be missing out on important nutrients.
Many weight loss programs promise results in a few short weeks, but that is because they cut off a significant portion of your diet, making it imbalanced. According to author and nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, “Many [quick] diets and eating plans cut out whole food groups, which means you could be missing out on key nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you need to stay healthy".
A diet that erases carbohydrates, for example, could result in a lack of fiber. A diet that removes dairy could cause calcium deficiency. While you may be fitting into your trousers better, your overall health may be quietly suffering.
2. Your metabolism could plummet.
No matter how you put it, your body reacts when you stop eating. Yes, you lose kilos because you take in fewer calories than you expend, but you might just gain it all back and more. See, your body needs food to sustain itself and without food, it goes on survival mode—which doctors actually call ‘starvation mode’.
To make up for the lack of new calories, your metabolism slows so you exert less energy. It’s counterproductive because by the time you really need to eat, you’ll be extremely hungry and overcompensate, consuming more than you would have if you ate normally. And, with your new slowed-down metabolism, you won’t burn off the grub as efficiently as you’d like. This is called the yo-yo effect.
Beware of yo-yo diets
Yo-yo diet, or weight cycling, is when your weight fluctuates constantly and swiftly. This is a poor effect of unsustainable weight loss schemes, such as crash dieting or food deprivation. Remember when we talked about rapid weight gain after rapid weight loss? That’s the yo-yo effect.
Because food-restrictive diets are challenging to maintain, most people who resort to this means tend to gain even more weight. With the false sense of assurance that they’ll lose weight by eliminating food, they’ll repeat this process.
This constant chase between your metabolic rate and the calories you consume—or lack of—can be a vicious cycle and can result in your metabolism breaking down. According to health experts, going on and off weight-loss diets can actually become a destructive habit, for both physical and mental health.
3. You could lose muscle.
Many people think that when the body goes into starvation mode, it loses fat before muscle, but Gerardo Miranda-Comas, MD, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says in a Men’s Health article this is a misconception. “A person who is attempting to lose weight by not eating may lose weight in muscle first before fat,” he says. In the grand hierarchy of energy consumption, the body likes to burn off glucose in carbs first. Without carbs, it opts for glycogen, which is glucose stored in the liver and muscles.
Most of the calories you consume per day are used to maintain red muscle mass, which allows you to eat without putting on weight. To reinforce the second point about metabolism, this means that when you reduce muscle mass, you’ll slow down your basal metabolic rate, hence you have to eat less just to stay the same. Any more eating will result to weight gain. This becomes a cycle of eating less and less, not even to lose kilos but just so you won’t gain any.
What exactly is metabolic rate?
Let’s circle back a bit. We’ve mentioned metabolic rate more than once. What is it, really? And what is its role in weight loss?
Harvard University defines metabolism as the “series of chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life.” Metabolic rate is the speed at which your body burns calories.
Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to perform the basic life functions, like breathing, circulation, nutrient processing, cell production. Simply put, it is the minimum number of calories your body needs to survive. It is often interchanged with resting metabolic rate. Though they are similar, RMR specifically measures calorie expenditure of the body when it is at rest.
There are many factors that affect metabolism, including genetics and lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage weight loss properly. With a proper health plan, you’ll find that you too can control your metabolism.
So, how does the body lose fat?
The body can lose fat through several ways. At BodySlims, we use a weight loss term called glucoseneogenesis. It occurs when we burn body fat through activities like walking and calorie reduction. It cannot be done through hardcore exercises since we need to allow the body to convert fat to glucose before we burn it as fuel.
It’s a healthier and more sustainable means of losing fat as opposed to something like ketosis where there is a direct burning of body fat or fuel. Diet fads like keto are also known to be harmful, according to Harvard Medical School. In their published article about the keto diet, they have found that it can cause problems such as nutrient deficiency, liver problems, kidney failure, constipation, and mood swings.
Diet versus exercise
It is important to realise that diet and exercise go hand in hand when it comes to managing your weight goals. Though not the fastest way, putting together a regimen that balances what and how you eat with your physical expenditure, is by far the most effective and sustainable solution to managing your physical goals.
Dieting is the regulation of your food intake, usually to decrease, increase, or maintain weight for a specified purpose. There are several ways to go about dieting, especially in popular culture. Some diets, like noughties favorite Atkins and current vogue Keto, impede specific food groups, while others specify portion control. Other trendy diets include juice cleanses and detoxes, as well as intermittent fasting.
Food is your fuel. A healthy diet provides you energy to stay active. It gives you nutrients your body needs to subsist, defend, and repair itself. It maintains your health and, let’s face it, food makes you happy.
Exercise is any physical activity that maintains or promotes physical fitness. It hones strength, prevents illnesses, bolsters athletic skills, develops muscles, boosts stamina. It’s also known to improve not just your physical well-being but also your emotional, social, and psychological welfare. There are three types of exercises: aerobic, which uses large muscle groups and uses up oxygen (walking, racquet sports—cardio types); anaerobic, which entails strength and resistance training; and flexibility, which keeps the muscles stretchable and limber.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between exercise and cardiovascular health, neurobiology. It’s also shown to reduce the risk of cancer and better the immune system.
That said, here at BodySlims, we advocate for walking as opposed to more intense types of exercises. We call it the “fat burning zone” that uses approximately 70% of your maximum heart rate. With this, your body could still burn from its fat stores, which is a slow release fuel. It’s important to note that when you switch it up to running or something more intense, the body will change the fuel supply to glycogen stored in the muscles, thereby stopping the burning of fat. This is why we prefer the relaxing yet effective exercise that is walking here at BodySlims.
Here are some of the other benefits of walking:
Walking can give you inspiration. When you step out of your home and see nature or different surroundings, it’s like your brain is rebooting! Add that refreshing, cool breeze and some sunlight, it’s perfect for relaxation or even getting inspired!
Almost everyone can do it! It’s a moderate intensity activity that can be sustained for a longer period of time. Unless you are an athlete or very fit active runner who can go the distance, walking is best for weight loss.
It’s better for people who may be overweight. Running for long periods of time and other high-intensity exercises may be unsafe for people who are experiencing medical conditions or are overweight.
It’s injury-free and can be done consistently. Unlike high intensity exercises that could result in muscle strains and other injuries, walking is something you can do every other day since the recovery period is very short.
The longer you walk, the more calories you burn! Since it doesn’t take a lot of effort compared to high-intensity activities, it’s easier to go on longer walks. And while you’re walking, you’re still burning from your fat stores, therefore, the more calories you burn and the more weight you lose!
Nutrition and exercise: A perfect combination
Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research enlisted 81 overweight women to join a fitness programme for three months. The women were tasked to run on the treadmill three times a week; their diets were not examined. After the study, 70% of the women gained fat mass despite the physical expenditure.
Researchers concluded that the participants likely consumed more calories than normal, justifying the extra food intake with their increased physical activity.
Think of your body as a car. Food is the gasoline. Exercise is when the engine’s running. The calories you burn each day are your total energy expenditure. To lose weight, you should burn more calories than you eat.
Because of this logic, people assume that putting a stopper on food will be the solution to weight gain woes. We can’t emphasise, however, how poor this reasoning is. It’s about eating well and pairing that with exercise. By eating the same amount of food but exerting more energy with exercise, you can create a more sustainable deficit, reaching your goal of consuming fewer calories than you burn.
This will only work, however, with proper nutrition. Think clean eating. Trim off the junk food. Add more vegetables and fruits to your meals. Choose whole grains. Eat in proper proportions. Cut down on cake, or, at least, have a slice just once in a while.
Once you have your nutrition in order, you’ll be able to have an easier time getting into a fitness routine. About 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is the recommended amount of physical activity to uphold a healthy weight. More than that would result in weight loss.
You know what to do: eat better, exercise harder. We know we’re starting to sound redundant at this point, but that’s because this is the pattern you should be going on—a cycle between a well-balanced diet and fitness. That’s how you can maintain or even hasten your metabolic rate. And that’s how the weight can keep off—and stay off.
There is no one size fits all solution to weight loss. It depends on your lifestyle, interests, metabolic type. A person who has more active work, for example, has different demands versus a person who sits at a desk all day.
If you are enlisting a programme to help achieve your weight goals and improve your overall fitness, it’s important to choose one that takes into consideration your personal requirements. At BodySlims, we let you rediscover yourself and take charge of your body.
Our programmes not only take you through the intricacies of your metabolism as well as come up with a practical eating and workout plan, they also keep you motivated to stay on the right path through various seminars and coaching. It’s time to take control. It’s time for BodySlims.
If you're waiting for the new intake, why not check out our FREE downloadable e-book of healthy Mediterranean recipes? Download it here.