There is a very popular opinion among people that you can lose a lot of weight simply by exercising. This is a myth and completely untrue! Exercise may have a lot of health benefits and extremely important for our body, but it is not enough for exercise to lose on its own. 

Whatever the mode of exercise we choose – running, jogging, walking, strength training, weight lifting or using a machine – is crucial for our health. Every adult human being needs to be physically active and taking part in regular exercises, even children in some cases. However, if your main goal is to lose weight – especially, a significant amount of weight – you need more than just exercise. 

Why Can’t Exercise Alone Help?

No matter how much you exercise, even if you spend the whole day at the gym or on a treadmill, you can’t lose a lot of weight if you are not cutting down on calories and eating food that is good for you. You can’t live on hamburgers and cheesecake and expect to lose weight, even if you are exercising vehemently. 

Yes, some people do seem to burn off everything they eat with exercise, but this isn’t something everyone can do. Only a handful of people in the world can continue with high-level workouts regularly, and they do it to build their muscles. The average people have to balance exercising with their jobs, families and social lives, and they don’t have more than an hour to exercise every day if even that. 

Theoretically, it is possible for a person to consume a lot of calories and burn them all off with exercise, but that would mean exercising for more than 5 to 6 hours a day, which is impossible for almost everyone. 

A single piece of chocolate comes with around 350 calories, and the average human being can burn 350 calories after running about 1 hour on the treadmill. This means that if you have a fattening meal of a hamburger, a glass of cola and a piece of chocolate cake – a model of unhealthy food, you’ll have to spend the next 3 to 3.5 hours on the treadmill to burn it off. Is this possible for the average men and women? 

If you continue to eat high-calorie and high-fat for every meal, you’ll have to spend the rest of your day exercising. Your whole day will be spent on treadmills and jogging because what you are eating is constantly adding weight to your body. 

Besides, the unhealthier food you eat, the more you are endangering your life. With a diet that’s full of processed and fried food, sugary drinks and simple carbohydrates, you increase chances of Type-II diabetes, heart problems, indigestion and certain types of cancer. You might have a thin body that looks thin from the outside, but your internal organs and systems will be disease-riddled and weak. 

At the same time, you can only exercise vehemently until a certain age. Older people aren’t encouraged to get on treadmills, run or jog for more than a few minutes every day, as it increases their chances of osteoporosis, breaking bones and heart failure. 

How Can You Lose Weight? 

To lose weight, you need a combined effort of exercising and healthy eating. 

You have to cut your calories to lose weight, and only eat the kind of foods that give you energy and nutrition, and doesn’t add empty calories to your body. While exercise is very good for you, you also need to concentrate on what you are eating to lose weight. 

According to the Institute of Medicine (IoM), the average amount of calories we need every day is somewhat around 1,200 to 2,000 calories for men and women. Depending on gender, age and amount of physical activity, the amount of calories required varies from person to person, and situation to situation. 

Below is a table that will make the whole calculation clear. 

GenderAgeSedentary LifestyleModerately Active LifestyleExtremely Active Lifestyle
Children (Boys and Girls)2- 3 years old1,000 calories1,400 calories1,400 calories
Women4 to 8 years old9 to 13 years old14 to 18 years old19 to 30 years old31 to 50 years old51 years old +1,200 calories1,600 calories1,800 calories2,000 calories1,800 calories1,600 calories
1,600 calories2,000 calories2,000 calories2,200 calories2,000 calories1,800 calories1,800 calories2,200 calories2,400 calories2,400 calories2,200 calories2,200 calories
Men4 to 8 years old9 to 13 years old14 to 18 years old19 to 30 years old31 to 50 years old51 years old +1,400 calories1,800 calories2,200 calories2,400 calories2,200 calories2,000 calories
1,600 calories2,200 calories2,800 calories2,800 calories2,600 calories2,400 calories
2,000 calories2,600 calories3,200 calories3,000 calories3,000 calories2,800 calories

These are the highest limits of calories allowed for men, women and children allowed at each point in their lives, based on their lifestyle and physical activities. Any calorie intake below these numbers can in losing weight faster. However, no one should increase their calorie intake beyond these limitations if they want to lose weight. 

To eat inside these calorie limitations, you have to only choose foods and ingredients that are packed with nutrition and not empty calories. Most of these calories are automatically burned by our body in the effort to survive and function and the rest has to be burned by exercising. This is why, you need the combined effort of exercising and good, healthy food to lose weight. 

If you eat three unhealthy, high-calorie meals in a day, with a total calculation of 4,000 calories or more (remember: a slice of chocolate cake has 350 calories and a can of cola has 139 calories), you can almost never burn it off with exercise. Only when you combine regular exercise with a calorie intake that is within the limit set for you, you can lose weight properly. 

Good health and weight loss require that you pay attention to both what you eat, and what exercises you are doing in your spare time. Neither exercise alone nor a good diet is enough for a healthy lifestyle; you need to combine both of them for the best results.