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Bob Wilcher: Exercise Vs. Diet for Weight Loss

Balancing caloric intake is a great way to start on the road to better health

Exercise vs. diet for weight loss: Which one is it? Does it really matter what you do for exercise? Does it really matter what you eat?

Bob Wilcher
Bob Wilcher (John Conroy photo / www.johnconroyimages.com)

In America, weight loss seems to be the most popular topic these days. How do we change the epidemic that is happening? The far majority of adults in America are overweight. This is scary, but what’s more horrifying is that so many children are also overweight. We are seeing many adult illnesses now in young children. What is wrong with us?

We have to get this under control. What people must understand first off is that weight loss is simply a mathematical equation. Your body needs a certain amount of fuel each day in order to carry out its functions. A very active person needs more fuel than a sedentary person. A bigger person (as in taller not fatter) needs more fuel than a smaller person, assuming they have similar activity levels. Most women need 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, and most men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day. If someone is exercising all day, then he or she will need to eat more. If someone who needs only 1,500 calories a day continually eats 2,500 calories a day, then he or she is eating an excess of 1,000 calories. Anything eaten in excess is turned into fat.

There are 3,500 calories per pound of fat. So eating an extra 1,000 calories each day will mean putting on a pound of fat in three to four days. The reverse is also true. If someone eats 1,500 calories each day, but his or her requirements go up to 2,000 calories because of increased exercise, then that extra 500 calories will come from previously stored fat and provide fuel to that person. Burning an extra 500 calories of fat each day from your body will result in one pound of fat loss in seven days.

These are just the basics, but they must be understood before moving on. So just talking weight loss, you can either increase your activity level or decrease your calorie intake — or, my favorite is to do both. Just cutting back alone on the calories will help, but if someone’s diet consists of fast food, sodas and junk food in general, then the quality of foods should also be improved. The great thing is that you can actually eat more or about the same if you eat quality foods because they are much less dense. If you substitute a fast-food burger loaded with mayo, ketchup and cheese with a grilled chicken salad with veggies, you’d be saving several hundred calories just from one meal.

Imagine driving a Ferrari and putting poor quality gas and oil in the vehicle. Do you think that Ferrari would perform like a Ferrari? No way! You need to put quality nutrients in your body if you want to get quality results.

If you just wanted to lose weight, then the easiest way to do it is to significantly cut back on your calories. I wouldn’t suggest starving yourself, but I would suggest replacing poor quality meals with better choices. If you go on a crash course diet, you’ll definitely be lighter on the scale but I guarantee that when you start eating again you will gain it all back and then some. If you want to lose weight permanently, then you must find a way to change your habits on a permanent basis. Losing more than one to two pounds a week is unrealistic and not sustainable on a long-term basis.

Losing weight is a great start to becoming healthier, but it’s not the entire ball of wax. Getting fit and improving the function of your heart, lungs and entire cardiovascular system will give anyone who does it a completely different look on life. They will feel better, look better, have way more energy and be healthier than someone who skips this step.

So here is Dr. Bob’s suggestion. Find a way to improve the quality of what you’re eating. I would not recommend fast food, sodas or anything processed. To go further, I wouldn’t recommend lots of milk products, breads or sweets either. Replace these things with salads, teas and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice. Try to avoid the hidden calories such as dressings, ketchup and most sauces.  Make your own. Use some lemon and a bit of olive oil and sea salt/pepper. Get your daily calorie consumption down to what it should be. If you can do this, you’ll be consuming fewer calories and you’ll start losing the pounds vs. packing them on.

Part two, which is equally important in the big picture, is getting your cardiovascular exercise. If you can burn an extra 500 calories a day or even every other day then you will pull more fat from your body’s reserves and you’ll see even greater weight loss. As you continue to exercise, your metabolism gets faster and you become a more efficient fat-burner. You’ll absolutely love the results.

The key is to just give it time. If you don’t make time to change your lifestyle now, then you’ll have to make time for illness much sooner than you would have thought.

— Dr. Bob Wilcher is a chiropractor and personal trainer in Santa Barbara. He owns Killer B Fitness, a personal and group training studio at 126 Powers Ave. Contact Wilcher at www.killerbfitness.com or 805.448.2222.


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