In previous blogposts, we have underlined how being overweight can hinder a patient’s recovery and that weight loss is an integral part to their treatment plan. Whenever discussing weight loss, two things often come to mind: nutrition and exercise.
Now ask yourself this: which factor (exercise or nutrition) is the main determinant for weight loss success? For those of you who guessed nutrition, you’re right! Our society puts a huge focus on exercise as a tool for weight loss, and while exercise is essential to overall health, diet is the overwhelming key to weight loss. Getting one’s nutrition on track (by using www.myfitnesspal.com or utilizing a top-notch nutritionist/dietician) is, hands down, the most critical component in order to achieve your weight loss goals.
Here at Lake Washington Sports & Spine, we are huge advocates of exercise, consistently championing its overall health benefits. However, if your specific goal is weight loss, we find that patients often prioritize exercise over diet, which is a mistake. We understand this. Frankly, exercise is more fun than dieting. Studies have shown that diet is 10-20 times more important for weight loss success than exercise. Many patients will counter with “I always was able to maintain my weight with exercise in college”.
For people under 25 years old, exercise is often the “go to” in order to lose weight, which allows for sloppy eating to continue. However, after 25, this method is no longer sustainable and easily leads to weight GAIN. This is because, as a person ages, the amount of exercise required in order to lose weight (without changing their diet) is unrealistic. In order to lose weight via exercise, a person has to do as much as 90 minutes of intense cardio per day (yes, that means seven days a week)! For most people, this is clearly unsustainable, for a couple reasons: either a person does not have an extra hour and a half per day to devote to intense exercise or their bodies break down and physically cannot handle the demands of such a workout regimen. The only realistic way to achieve one’s weight loss goals is to concentrate on one’s diet and make sure they are eating clean.
Now, before you go off and think that losing weight requires becoming a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian, it doesn’t need to be quite so drastic (unless you have specific medical requirements, of course). There are even relatively small changes to one’s diet that can make a monumental difference and lead to weight loss success.
One pound is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. That means that if a person removes 500 calories from their diet per day, every day, they’ll be down one pound after a week! Now that’s some serious progress made!
What this comes down to is TRACKING. Every morsel that goes into your mouth needs to be documented, for instance in an app such as www.myfitnesspal.com. Just keeping this information in your brain is not enough. First of all, humans forget things. It happens. Without proper documentation, a person will forget that tablespoon of peanut butter they ate or the several handfuls of trail mix that was scarfed down during their break.
Second, people have a tendency to drastically underestimate how many calories are in different types of food. That tiny cake pop from Starbucks? That can’t be more than 50 calories. Wrong! Those will put you back about 170 calories. Myfitnesspal is the diet buddy that keeps people honest about their diet choices and can make the difference between weight loss success and failure.
Here at Lake Washington Sports & Spine, our goal is to help our patients stay active and become the best possible versions of themselves. If weight loss is part of a patient’s journey to staying fit and healthy, we want to make sure they are given the best tools and recommendations for success. For those wanting to lose some pounds, diet changes are essential in order to attain that goal and, as always, our team is here to offer advice and encouragement on your path to weight loss success!