by Chad Kerksick PhD March 04, 2013 4 min read
This article is the other book end to the article recently published encouraging people to keep these things simple with their exercise program and do something…anything. Don’t worry about what type of exercise is best, how long to exercise, how hard to exercise, just pick something you enjoy and do it. And do it every week. Don’t focus on what you are not doing, just focus on what you are doing. And do more of it each workout.
For the educated of readers, you realize the previous article was only half of the argument. The other half of the argument needs to be had and it is in regards to your diet. In fact, many people feel that the importance of diet is much greater. Why is this? Is this true? First, it’s extremely difficult to accurately determine the contribution of things such as this, but taking a practical look can offer some insight. For example, a person could go to the gym or complete their prescribed exercise program several times each week and during each workout they could push themselves to exercise a little harder and little longer. For these efforts, the person could feel very good about their exercise program.
Compliance to a person’s diet is the same, but harder. Why? Because the challenges to stray from sound dietary approaches are everywhere in our society and consistent vigilance needs to be considered. This doesn’t mean you need to feel like a slave, but understanding that falling off track of your diet can occur quickly each day. Achieving all of your exercise goals can be conquered in a one to two hour time window, but compliance to your diet requires an all-day approach. And frankly some days, an extra beer just feels right or stuffed-crust pizza with ranch dressing is screaming your name.
For those of you who like to exercise and simply say, “well I’ll just exercise longer” that only works to a certain degree. How much do you honestly think you can devote each day to exercise? Even in the most favorable calorie burning of situations, a person can expect to consistently burn no more than 17 – 18 calories per minute (and this estimate is for a larger person of good fitness status who exercises intensely). More likely you likely are a smaller framed person, don’t have great fitness levels and you don’t push yourself to the max each workout. In these situations, you will likely burn around 13 – 14 calories per minute. Even if you truly do exercise for 60 – 90 minutes each workout (not the amount of you spent at the gym), this adds up to around 1,000 calories. In our society, do you realize how quickly 1,000 calories can be consumed?
In other words, 15 minutes of uncontrolled eating can completely negate an hour or longer on the treadmill. Not fair, but it is what it is. Much like with exercise, everyone seems to have an opinion on nutrition and dieting. Eat at this time but at this time. This supplement works better than others. Carbohydrates are bad. Protein is king. Fat makes you fat, etc, etc.
Again, the first area of concern should not whether or not you are eating too many carbohydrates, but rather spend your time focusing on how much you are actually eating. Studies indicate that people eat approximately 25% more calories than what they think. In other words, people have no idea how many calories are in the foods they like to eat and if you regularly think you are eating 500 calories less each day than what you actually are, the rate at which you can expect to lose weight will no doubt be impacted in an unhappy way.
You would be amazed at the number of conversations which take place or questions that are asked by people during a presentation about something specific related to food (“Will this food make me fat?”) and then they go directly to a fast food joint. Likely these will be the people too that will gripe about their new diet, complain about their personal trainer or point their fingers at the people who make the dietary supplements they are taking because they don’t work.
As with the exercise article, start small and achievable and in the early going don’t get so caught up in following the latest diet fad, but then go about eating everything that is not nailed down. Rather set goals that will encourage you to limit how many calories you are consuming. And as with the exercise program, you must think about it, plan and work hard at the guidelines.
The great news is again that small and consistent efforts add up each day to make a difference. It doesn’t take a Herculean effort, but it does take effort and it needs to occur on a regular basis. Many scientists and nutritionists agree that no one food should be considered bad, but consuming them in massive amounts is where the problems begin to enter.
In closing, most people can identify 3-5 things they can immediately do to their diet to make improvements. Sit down and identify these things and start the first one of your list. While dietary changes need to be discussed and combined with an increase in exercise, the best advice is the simplest: Eat less and move more.
The human body allows for things to be simplified as such, so don’t let your mind or other people’s opinion enter into your mind and allow you to become confused. Remember that previous advice and as with your exercise, work at it each day to make continual improvements in your clothes.