And there's another benefit to using exercise as a weight-loss tool. If you lose weight by only reducing calories from your diet, you also run the risk of losing muscle and water in addition to fat. But exercise not only burns calories - it can also help you to increase your lean muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you are at rest, adding exercise to the mix can help make you a lean, mean, calorie-burning machine!
Take action: Eating fewer calories is pretty straightforward when you follow three guiding principles. First, stick with a primarily plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and heart-healthy fats, like olive oil). Second, limit processed foods (such as frozen meals, deli meats, and refined carbohydrates, including pastries and white bread), which contain lots of empty calories in the form of sugar and unhealthy fats (not to mention a lot of salt).
Also, the natural sugar in fruit does affect your carbohydrate intake — especially if you eat a lot of fruit. This may temporarily raise your blood sugar or certain blood fats. However, this effect is lessened if you are losing weight. If you have diabetes or any other health conditions or concerns, work with your doctor to adjust the Mayo Clinic Diet for your situation. For example, people with diabetes should aim for more vegetables than fruits, if possible. It's a good idea to snack on vegetables, rather than snacking only on fruit.
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
Research shows that exercise alone won’t help you lose weight, and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not the right message for the worldwide obesity epidemic. A recent study reveals why, suggesting that your body adjusts to higher activity levels, so while you may burn extra calories initially, eventually that rate will plateau. And there is some disheartening research, indicating that solely using exercise as a weight loss method can actually lead to weight gain. “Clients always say, ‘I’m doing all of this activity, but I just can’t lose the weight,’” confirms Mangieri. “I even have athletes who are training for 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, and still gaining weight.”
If you're losing weight but not as fast as you'd like, don't get discouraged. Dropping pounds takes time, just like gaining them did. Experts suggest setting a realistic weight loss goal of about one to two pounds a week. If you set your expectations too high, you may give up when you don’t lose weight fast enough. Remember, you start seeing health benefits when you've lost just 5%-10% of your body weight.