Pause Your Diet Plans: The Stanford-Backed Step You Should Take First

Millions of Americans are constantly trying to lose weight by starting various diets. However, research from Stanford University School of Medicine reveals that the key to controlling your waistline is actually developing another crucial habit at the same time: exercise. According to the study, beginning an exercise program while also changing your diet will significantly increase your chances of maintaining weight control. On the other hand, just starting with dietary changes may hinder your efforts to establish a successful exercise regimen.

Why not start with exercising?

Researcher Abby King emphasizes the importance of starting both habits, saying, “It may be particularly useful to start both at the same time… If you need to start with one, consider starting with physical activity first.” While the study examined the habits of people who aimed to improve their health rather than lose weight, King points out that the results indicate how much a health coach can help when trying to make positive lifestyle changes.

Most people find it challenging to maintain a new habit, so having a professional guide you with advice and support can make all the difference. Moreover, starting with physical activity has multiple benefits, not just for weight loss but also for overall health and well-being.

Benefits of exercising while dieting

  1. Increased metabolism: Exercise, especially weight training, increases your metabolism, which means your body will burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest.

  2. Improved mood: Physical activity releases endorphins—substances that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. This helps reduce stress and makes you more likely to stick to your diet plan when you’re feeling good.

  3. Better sleep: Studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly have better sleep quality, which aids in weight loss by balancing hormone levels, reducing stress, and increasing metabolism.

  4. Prevention of muscle loss: When you’re on a diet, it’s not just fat you lose, but also muscle mass. Exercise helps preserve and even increase muscle mass, which is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

  5. Reduced risk of weight regain: Including exercise in your weight loss plan helps you develop healthy habits that are more likely to stick around, reducing the chances of regaining the lost weight once you stop dieting.

Combining diet and exercise — practical tips

Now that we know the importance of combining diet and exercise for optimal weight control, let’s look at some practical tips for integrating both methods into your daily routine.

  1. Set realistic goals: Determine your target weight and aim for a healthy, gradual weight loss of up to 2 pounds per week. Adjust your exercise and diet plan accordingly.
  2. Choose activities you enjoy: Find physical activities you genuinely enjoy, so you look forward to them instead of seeing them as a chore you need to do.

  3. Plan your meals: Plan your meals for the week, incorporating a balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This will make it easier to stay on track with your diet.

  4. Schedule workout times: Block out time in your calendar for your workouts and treat them as non-negotiable appointments.

  5. Stay accountable: Consider enlisting the help of a friend, family member, or health coach who can keep you accountable and provide guidance, encouragement, and motivation.

  6. Monitor your progress: Keep a log of your exercise sessions, diet, and weight changes to track progress and make adjustments if necessary. This can also help boost your motivation.

  7. Be patient: Remember, sustainable weight loss takes time. Focus on consistency and persistence, and soon, you’ll start seeing results.

In conclusion, combining diet and exercise considerably increases your chances of successful weight control. Starting with physical activity and gradually introducing dietary changes can make it easier to stick to both habits and maintain them in the long term. Most importantly, stay patient and committed to your goals, and you’ll indeed reap the rewards of your hard work.