Firstly, it’s important to remember that you should be aiming for fat loss, not weight loss. To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Exercise can help you achieve this by burning off extra calories.
While calorie restriction and diet is the most important aspect of losing weight (fat), exercise should also be an essential part of your overall fat loss programme, especially when it comes to keeping off the weight you’ve lost!
Exercise can arguably give you more benefits than diet alone. These include reducing stress, helping you sleep, making you feel good, making daily activities easier, lowering your risk of conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, some cancers and giving you more energy. The list goes on and on……
But how does it specifically help with fat loss?
Your metabolism – Your metabolism is a measure of how many calories your body needs and uses in a day. You can control how many calories you burn by doing more physical activity and exercise. How many calories you burn off depends on things like the type of exercise you do, how intense it is and how long you do it for.
Your muscle mass – The bad news is that you tend to lose muscle and gain fat as you get older (think middle aged spread). Also, when you go on a calorie restricted diet, you’ll also probably lose muscle mass. This lowers your metabolism, potentially causing fat gain from calories your consuming but no longer need.
The good news is that an exercise plan alongside your diet can reduce the amount of muscle you lose, or even increase it, meaning you’re burning more calories (even at rest).
Muscle building and repair – After exercising your body must repair and build the muscles worked. This needs more energy from the calories you’ve consumed, helping you to lose fat and control your weight.
Helping you make good choices – Exercise can improve your mental health, reduce stress, help you sleep, and makes you feel good. All of these reduce your tendency to make bad food choices.