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Recipe for Success

Did you start working out in hopes of losing a few pounds, but now realize that you just aren't losing weight, or even worse, are actually gaining weight? You may wonder if you just aren't performing the right workout for your body or doing something else wrong in the gym, but the truth is, it can be very difficult to lose weight through exercise alone. You need to change your eating habits, too, and when you combine exercise and healthy eating, you will finally begin to lose weight.

Why It's Difficult to Lose Weight with Exercise Alone

One of the keys to losing weight is burning more calories than you are eating. When starting a workout routine without changing your eating habits, it is possible to lose weight, but typically, that weight loss will be very slow.

Losing weight through exercise, however, relies on not consuming more calories each day than you consumed before beginning a workout program. If you are like many people, you may "work up an appetite" while exercising. You then eat a little more during the day or even add in just one extra snack each day, and that one snack or extra serving of that side dish at dinner may end up replacing every single calorie you burned while exercising.

For example, if your daily exercise routine consists of 30 minutes of running at 5 mph and you weigh about 155 lbs, then you burn just under 300 calories during your run.

If you then, in addition to what you typically ate before beginning your workout regimen, eat just 2 chocolate sandwich cookies (240 calories) to "reward yourself" for a great workout and eat an extra 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes at dinner (120 calories), you then replace all of the calories you burned and add even a few more.

Does this mean you should stop exercising? Of course not. Exercise is a healthy habit that comes with many health benefits. However, if your goal is weight loss and even more improvement in your health, then you must change your eating habits, too.

How to Determine Your Daily Calorie Intake Goal for Weight Loss

While eating healthier foods is just as important as lowering your calorie intake, having a general daily calorie intake goal can help you learn how much fuel your body really needs.

To lose one pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you eat. Of course, your goal should not be to lose one pound of fat each day. A healthier target would be to lose one pound each week, which would mean burning 500 more calories each day than you consume.

To find your daily calorie intake goal, track what you eat for a few days to determine how many calories you are currently consuming each day. Add up all calories you ate over the 3-day period, then divide the result by 3 to find your average calorie intake.

Finally, subtract 500 calories from that number, and you have a daily calorie intake goal that, if you stick to it, will help you lose one pound each week.

What to Eat for Optimal Weight Loss

Once you determine your daily calorie goal, you don't want to meet your calorie requirements with junk food. Not only would that be unhealthy, but a recent Harvard study revealed that people lose more weight when they eat healthy foods, no matter what their calorie intake is.

The study found that people who ate lean meals consisting of high-quality ingredients such as: lean protein, vegetables, and whole grains lost more weight than people eating junk food. It also found that healthy nuts and yogurt were snack foods that, when eaten in moderation, aided in weight loss.

If you are trying to lose weight by working out without changing your eating habits, then you have likely realized that it can be very tough to lose weight through exercise alone. Don't stop exercising, but instead combine it with a healthy diet, and you may then be surprised how quickly the pounds start flying off.

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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