Weight Gain Is Also Due to Overeating
While reduced physical activity is a significant contributor to weight gain, we are also eating more. The average American adult eats about 300 more calories per day than in 1970. In studies that have looked at where those calories are coming from, mixed grain dishes like pizza and tacos and calorie-containing beverages except milk top the list.
Experts agree – the combination of eating more and moving less is behind the weight gain of the past thirty years.
Weight loss and weight gain are explained by the balance between calories in and calories out. You gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn, and you lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in.
To lose 1 pound, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. Over a week, this translates into 500 calories a day. You can create this calorie deficit through a combination of increased physical activity and cutting back on food. But how much can exercise contribute? Can it be an effective stand-alone weight-loss solution?
Exercise alone as a weight-loss method is particularly ineffective without
paying attention to food intake, and increasing activity is not a free pass to ignore eating habits. People who begin an exercise program often overlook the food side of the calories in /calories out equation. Some people even increase the amount of food they eat because they think they are burning more calories than they really are. The end result – weight gain rather than weight loss!
Going to the gym without a similar effort on the food front is sure to backfire.
Numerous research studies show that it is common for people who are trying to lose weight to overestimate their physical activity—they think that they worked longer and harder than they really did. People also underestimate the amount of food or calories they are eating. So the difference between calories in from food and calories out from exercise is smaller than they think. It is all too easy to overeat any time spent in exercise. For example, it takes about an hour on the treadmill for a 170-pound man to burn off a medium-size bagel (without butter or cream cheese), a few cookies, or a donut. A 150-pound woman doing a 30-minute workout at a circuit training gym like Curves burns about 150 calories, or the equivalent of a 12-ounce glass of orange juice. That’s not a lot of food.