You are correct in your assumptions about weight loss. Most of it is determined by changing your diet. This will become especially profound if you completely shift from junk food towards a whole-food diet.
Why exercise is important
Exercise is a very important component of weight loss as well. Without it, you are stripping away muscle and bone density. Strength training enhances bone density and muscular growth, increasing the capacity for your body to lose body fat even more so than with food alone.
Strength training also increases your metabolic flexibility, allowing you to tap into those stubborn fat reserves for energy. This takes some effort but can easily be achieved with a healthy diet. The two are always intertwined.
In light of this point, you don’t need to exercise like a maniac to increase your capacity to burn fat and gain some muscle mass. Building up to 3–4 sessions a week will really become beneficial for you. I highly recommend the most bang-for-your-buck exercises, such as deadlifting, squatting, bench pressing and lunges. Isolated exercises work, but you are strengthening the smaller muscle groups, which do not cause as much a metabolic impact as compound movements. The more muscles you activate in an exercise, the better results you will get.
Don’t forget that exercise is also great for your well-being and mental and emotional health, increasing sleep quality, lowering cholesterol markers and reducing stress. It’s a win-win on all levels.
The pitfalls of exercise
One thing to be aware of is that exercise does make you a lot more hungry, and you will most likely consume more calories. This is not a bad thing, as long as you are aware of this. People tend to overestimate how many calories they burn during exercise. As long as you are still consuming the right foods and are still a very active person, this will not be a concern despite the amount of exercise you will be doing.
Remember that all exercise counts, and make a habit of enforcing spontaneous movements as much as possible.
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