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Is Exercise Alone Enough for Weight Loss?

Apr 8, 2016


Two out of every three American adults are overweight or obese, according to figures from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. One of the major barriers preventing people from maintaining a healthy weight is lack of information about how to lose weight. Understanding healthy weight loss, including the role of exercise, is essential to dropping those extra pounds.

The Physiology of Weight Loss

Our body requires a certain number of calories each day to support cellular metabolism, breathing, heart rate and other physiological processes. This baseline level of calorie usage is known as your basal metabolic rate. Each person’s basal metabolic rate is different, but you can get a good estimate by using an online calculator that includes your sex, age, weight and height.

In order to maintain your weight, you need to consume the same number of calories you expend each day. Consuming more calories than your body expends leads to weight gain while taking in fewer calories than your body expends leads to weight loss. In total, one pound of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. This means that you need to generate a 500-calorie deficit per day to lose one pound per week. For healthy weight loss, our Long Island medical center physicians recommend trying to lose no more than two pounds per week, which would translate into a 1,000-calorie daily deficit.

Is Exercise Alone Enough to Lose Weight?

So how do you create a caloric deficit? There are two ways: reduce the number of calories you consume or increase your daily physical activity level.

Some people wonder whether exercise alone is enough to lose weight. Recent evidence suggests that the number of calories you burn may plateau after a certain amount of exercise. Thus, you need both a healthy diet plan and frequent physical activity for a healthy weight loss plan. Current guidelines recommend that adults receive 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, which translates to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. Combining this level of physical activity with a healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grain products is a successful way to stimulate weight loss.

With any weight loss plan, you are more likely to succeed if you have a team of people supporting you in your journey. Before trying to lose weight, visit your Peconic Bay Medical Center doctor for a consultation. Your doctor can help you form a weight loss plan that makes sense for your health background and life circumstances.