Is it OK to Eat Anything You Want if You Are Exercising Regularly?
In a Nutshell:
- What foods not to eat to lose weight?
- How many calories do I need to lose weight?
- Eat less to lose weight.
- How much exercise do you need a day to lose weight?
A more accurate weight loss question would be this one, as I frequently get asked about what diet to eat, calories to eat per day and how to lose belly fat, but this one, I get asked a lot more about, specifically.
How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat, to Help Me Lose Weight?
My wife and I recently returned from a cruise to Alaska, compliments of my wonderful Mother-In-Law. It was an absolutely fantastic trip. The weather was great, the scenery was gorgeous, and we had a blast.
The trip also gave me the idea for this article. The idea is an answer to a question I have heard from many people in the past, ‘how much exercise will allow me to eat anything I want?’
If you have ever been on a cruise, you can probably guess how I came up with the idea for the article!
The food on a cruise is really good, and the supply is endless. Depending on what you eat (of course), it is high in protein and carbohydrates, and full of nutrients. It’s best not to calorie count as your calorie intake is going to push you well over your goal weight.
We ate like it was the end of the world! We ate a huge amount for nearly every meal and usually also ate dessert.
I don’t think I have ever eaten so much in a seven day period in my entire life. I felt really overweight!
How much weight did I gain?
I gained about 4 pounds and added about 1 inch to my waist. We did not do any physical activities. I hate that, but it was fun. And, do you know what?
I’ve lost most of it within two weeks. Do you know why?
It’s because I maintain a good amount of muscle mass in my body to keep my metabolism high. When you maintain muscle mass in your body, a week of eating a poor diet does not cause long-term weight gain.
It causes you to gain weight temporarily with a lot of water retention due to salt. You may also be interested to read our article titled how fast can I lose weight so you know the ‘cons’ of losing weight too quickly.
I will hazard to guess that many others from our cruise will not lose the added weight so quickly. I’m sorry to be so judgmental, but there were a lot of very out of shape people on the cruise.
They carried a lot of their weight in fat around their belly, and I am certain that many of them do not maintain much lean muscle. Guess what happens to the weight they added on that cruise.
It will probably stay there for a long time.
At the beginning of the week, my wife and I went to the gym on the ship. It was packed. It was jammed full of people that did not appear to have spent much time in a gym prior to that moment.
They were floundering all over the equipment with little idea of how to use it.
However, they were going to get in a ‘good workout’ to make sure that they burned up all those calories they were eating!
Do you think it worked?
Do you think that they burned up those extra calories they were shoveling in that week? Heck no.
At least not enough to make much of a difference.
You see, exercising to burn calories works, but it does not work very well. Let’s do the math.
Let’s say that a 250 pound person on the cruise went to the gym to burn off those calories. Let’s say that they lifted weights for about one-half hour and then hit the exercise bike for about one-half hour.
At that point they’re probably feeling pretty good about themselves. But how many calories have they burned? They’ve burned about 690 calories.
I saw a guy one day with two super-large double cheeseburgers on his plate. One of those double cheeseburgers probably contained well over 690 calories.
Do you think that hour in the gym would have burned up his extra calories for the day? I seriously doubt it.
Let’s forget the absolute gluttony of the cruise and assume that we’re talking about daily eating habits. If you spend your day eating whatever sounds good, you’re probably packing in a lot of calories.
Let’s say that you’re a 6 foot 220 pound guy who’s a bit of a couch potato, and you take in 4,000 calories per day. Your metabolism burns about 2,120 calories per day. Your daily work schedule burns about 800 calories per day.
Do you think that exercise is going to burn the rest of those calories? Not unless you want to go jogging for about one and a half hours per day.
So what if you decide to do just that? You jog for one and a half hours per day so you can eat as much as you want. That may work, for a while, however, jogging that much will also burn up muscle. Your joints and muscles can’t take that much exercise on a daily basis. As you burn up your muscles from over-exercise, your metabolism will begin to slow down and your body will require more exercise to maintain your weight.
Trying to exercise away a bad diet just doesn’t make sense. To get into shape and lose body fat, you have to move. You have to be active and use both exercise and healthy nutrition. In the long run, you really can’t get around it.
It’s real simple.
There’s only one way to lose fat. And that is to eat less calories than your burn each day.
You will always have to factor your diet plan into the equation.
The best way to lose fat involves three components:
- Build muscle mass using simple progressive resistance exercises – every pound of muscle burns about 37.5 calories per day. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns automatically.
- Eat 5 to 6 small healthy meals per day – this satisfies your hunger, gives you steady energy throughout the day, and keeps your insulin levels steady. Eat slightly less calories than you burn each day.
- Forget about using long exercise sessions to burn calories, use exercises to build muscle and to progressively improve your heart health. Read our article titled the best cardio for fat loss and you’ll know exactly what fitness exercises to do.
If you use these three steps and concentrate on losing fat, not on losing weight, you’ll be much more lean and healthy with a much better shape to your body. You’ll also bounce back much more quickly when you have an occasional cheat week, like we all had on the cruise.
For your benefit I highly recommend using this calorie counter to figure your daily calorie needs and using this BMI calculator to calculate your body mass index. You will then know exactly how many calories you need to eat per day and how much body fat you are carrying.