Should I Exercise For Weight Loss?

When trying to lose weight, you may ask yourself, “should I exercise for weight loss?” The short answer is yes. But probably not for the reasons you think.  When it comes to weight loss, it is 90% of what you are eating. You cannot exercise away a poor diet. While exercise has many benefits, like becoming toned and fit,  exercise alone will not facilitate weight loss. 

Dieting and Exercise 

Losing weight through exercise alone is one of the hardest ways to go about it. Your energy balance is determine by what you eat and your basal metabolic rate (how many calories your burn just being alive). How active you are plays a small role in your energy balance. This is why it is so hard to lose weight with activity alone.

The biggest mistake that I see people make when on a low calorie weight loss program is they exercise too much. Believe it or not, if you are exercising too much, and not eating enough, this can slow, or even stall, your weight loss. 

For my patients that are doing Ideal Protein (phase 1), I recommend they do only conversational cardio. That means walking and that’s it. Because your muscle is the engine that burns calories, the more muscle mass you have, the more efficient you are at weight loss (or weight maintenance). Therefore, I highly recommend that my patients do strength training, but in a slow, controlled fashion. Once my patients are in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of Ideal Protein, they can increase their level of physical activity to match the recommended levels below. 

Benefits of Exercise

There are many benefits of exercise. These benefits should not be ignored. You  should try to achieve a healthy exercise ritual of anywhere between 3 to 5 times a week. Exercise should include strength training and some cardio. 

These benefits include:

  • improved brain health
  • reduced risk of disease
  • boost your mood
  • decrease risk of metabolic syndrome
  • delayed onset of dementia
  • improve sleep
  • improved creativity
  • reduce pain
  • reduce stress
  • lower your risk of injury
  • strengthen bones and muscles
  • improve your ability to do every day activities


Cardiovascular exercise is any vigorous activity that increases heart rate and respiration and raises oxygen and blood flow throughout the body while using large muscle groups of the body repetitively and rhythmically. However, studies show that excessive endurance exercise (like running for long periods of time) can often cause more harm than benefits. In fact, studies suggest that even a brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes every day can increase longevity. I recommend finding an activity that you enjoy and sticking with it 3-5 times per week. You can also mix it up, which seems to have even more benefits. 

Types of cardio exercise include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running/Jogging
  • Burpees
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling/bicycling
  • Dancing
  • Cross-country skiing
  •  Volleyball, basketball, soccer or racquetball
  • Rowing
  • Kayaking, paddling or canoeing
  • Circuit training
  • Jumping rope
  • Stair climbing
  • In-line skating
  • Martial arts
  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
  • Jumping jacks, squat jumps, split jumps
  • Roller blading
  • Kickboxing

Strength Training 

Strength training is a type of physical exercise that uses resistance in the form of your own body weight or external weights to help build overall strength and size of skeletal muscles. As you age, your body tends to naturally lose lean muscle mass so keeping up strength training is very important. 30 to 45 minutes of strength training 3 to 4 days a week is a good goal. 

Types of strength training include:

  • Agile Strength: ability to change directions quickly and powerfully
  • Endurance Strength: how long you can go
  • Explosive Strength: allows you to move yourself or an object quickly, with a lot of force
  • Maximum Strength: maximum force you can carry under a heavy load
  • Speed Strength: how fast you can go
  • Starting Strength: first push of movement without any momentum
  • Relative Strength: a reflection of how strong you are compared to your personal size

Weight Loss 101

It is important to realize that your body is not made to lose weight. You are actually made to gain weight. Keep in mind when we were caveman we did not have a grocery store on every corner and did not have access to food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There were times when we did not have food available, so we depended upon our fat stores to carry us through. Unfortunately, we have not evolved to our current food industry.

As I mentioned above, when it comes to weight loss, it is 90% of what you are putting in your mouth. But what about that other 10%? In order to lose weight, everything has to be lined up. This means what you are eating, how you are sleeping, how much water you are drinking, how long between your meals you are waiting, how much activity you are getting, stress levels, hormones, and more! This is why having a weight loss coach can help you to be successful on your weight loss journey. A knowledgeable weight loss coach can look at your overall picture and find areas that may be impeding your weight loss.