Third, physical activity. When you lose a pound of tissue (outside of water loss), that pound may be from fat, from lean tissue such as muscle, or from a combination of the two. When you lose the weight through diet alone, a higher percentage of it will be from muscle than if you lose weight through a combination of modest calorie reduction and physical activity.
One pioneering study looked at the effects of diet alone, exercise alone, or a combination of both. Three groups of women held a 500 calorie per day deficit for 16 weeks. All groups lost about the same amount of weight—11 pounds. But while the group who just dieted lost about 2.5 pounds of muscle and 8.5 pounds of fat, the exercise only group gained two pounds of muscle and lost almost 13 pounds of fat. The combination group gained about one pound of muscle.
Weight loss does not automatically equal fat loss. (You could be losing muscle!)
Fourth, thermic effect of food. While the bulk of weight gain or loss isn’t determined by this variable, the thermic effect of food can make a difference over the long run in weight control. I’ll focus on just two main points. One, breakfast increases resting metabolism by about 10 percent. Two, exercising after a meal increases the food’s thermic effect, in many cases, by almost two times. That means that the calories you burn from eating are increased if you exercise after the meal.
Here are reasonable, science-based recommendations for fat loss that also takes into account your time and effort commitment:
You may not see the 2-3 pound per week loss that other programs promote, but think of that as a badge of honor. Your weight loss won’t be based on water weight or protein loss, but rather on fat loss and increased metabolism that then sustains the weight loss.
Commit six months to this approach and then let me know the results. I think you’ll be pleased.
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