There is a prevailing belief among those actively pursuing their health and fitness that one can eat anything as long as the exercise is kept up. It makes sense on a simplistic analysis. The additional strenuous activity increases the energy expenditure which naturally leads to a bigger appetite. Taking in some extra calories then shouldn’t be a problem as one will eventually burn it off anyway at the gym, track, pool or whatever exercise equipment is waiting at home.
As logical as it may sound, there are still some aspects that need to be closely considered about this truism that aren’t immediately obvious. Diet and exercise are two integrated factors that have a great impact on personal health. It is paramount that one must understand how they achieve equilibrium in order to fulfill and maintain fitness.
Two average people of the same age and body weight have similar eating habits and accomplish the same daily workouts at the same amount and effort. Yet after a given period, one loses weight while the other doesn’t or possibly even gains more. Such phenomena have been known to occur and the explanation lies in metabolism.
The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories an individual burns daily to simply maintain bodily functions – respiration, blood circulation, tissue repair, etc. According to a report by the Mayo Clinic, the primary aspects that affect BMR are body size, gender, and age. Then other factors like physical activity and eating habits come in and may change this number. This rate of using up energy is different for every person. It is this difference that plays a key role in the relationship between diet and exercise. It is also a determining issue of how an individual should carry out these two aspects of his or her fitness.
Eat More or Exercise More
Can a person with a daily workout regimen eat anything and still lose weight? It depends on that person’s BMR. If that person uses up energy at a particularly slow rate, he or she has the options of eating less, exercising more or doing both. Choosing to increase calorie intake may require increasing physical activity, specifically the volume, frequency, and intensity of the exercise sessions to achieve weight loss or maintain weight.
Some exercise manuals offer information on how many total calories a particular workout can burn. Some particularly hard activities such as weight lifting or long runs for example are known to leave a small amount of anaerobic or aerobic stress even after the session. That means the body is still burning up fuel even after the exercise. Without knowledge of one’s personal BMR however, an individual can’t really estimate the net number of calories expended for a particular workout.
Between someone with a sedentary lifestyle and another who is physically active, it is apparently the latter that enjoys more allowance in terms of diet. However this may present another danger. It can be tempting to use exercise as an excuse for overeating. There’s nothing wrong with indulging on some sweets after a grueling session.
Endurance athletes load up on carbohydrates during the tapering period to store up energy reserves for the major event. In both cases, the extra calories are actually necessary. The bottom line is that one still needs to be smart about nutrition. Diet and exercise should be seen as part of a whole system of personal fitness. What and how much one eats must depend on one’s physiological needs for energy, not more nor less.
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