Why Eating Less & Moving More Doesn’t Work


If you\’ve ever consulted a professional about losing weight, chances are that you\’ve been told something along the lines of \”eat less, move more.\” This advice seems logical enough, and it\’s been drilled into us by not only health professionals, but by the media and pop culture. 

If we consume less calories, and burn more calories through exercise, of course we will lose weight… right? Well, it\’s not that simple.

The truth is that even if this method \”works,\” it\’s not necessarily doing what you think it is. 

The Issue With Low-Calorie Diets

By focusing on limiting calories, it\’s easy to miss out on the micro- and macronutrients that our body needs. The three main macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Each of these plays an important role in our body\’s functioning, and low-calorie diets make it harder to get enough. Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are also often missed when we focus too heavily on calorie numbers. Low-calorie diets often influence us to choose more processed foods, which are not as rich in vitamins or minerals.


Weight Loss is More Than Diet & Exercise

Let\’s talk about mindset. One of the biggest potential issues with following a low-calorie diet is developing an unhealthy relationship with food. When we focus too much on caloric intake, we often begin to lose touch with the enjoyment of eating. We may begin to see food as simply a number, and instead of relying on our body to tell us when we\’re hungry or full, we rely on our calorie calculations. Mindful eating means eating without distraction — focusing solely on the food we are consuming and relying on our body to intuitively tell us how much and when we should eat. 

Environmental factors also play a role. Results in a large number of studies support the notion that our environment plays an enormous role in our eating behaviors. Over the last 50 years, our environment has become more toxic as it relates to food — we are bombarded with pervasive advertising for cheap, energy-dense, high-calorie foods, and these social and cultural forces are powerful. Our individual environments also play a role, of course. Friends, family, workplace, and daily routines all contribute to the way we think about and consume food. 

Now, we\’re not pretending to be health experts. Which is why we invited Amy Wilson to join us for an episode of Cup of Joy. Amy is a Nutrition Coach Pharmacist, and her business is to help people get healthy. Here\’s what she had to say about why eating less and moving more doesn\’t work:

So, what can we do if we want to look and feel better?

The reality is that weight loss is an individualized process. There is no \”one size fits all\” program, cure, or skinny tea that will magically let us lose weight and keep it off. If there was, you\’d probably not be reading this article, right?

With that being said, here are some suggestions to help you look and feel better, and sustain your progress for the long-run.

  • Examine your readiness. Think about your \”why.\”
  • Find your inner motivation. 
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Enjoy healthier foods
  • Change your perspective
  • Get active and stay active. Find ways to move your body that feel good and allow you to have fun. 

Some reflections questions to help get you thinking:

  • Have you subscribed to the notion that \’eating less & moving more\’ equals weight loss?
  • How do you relate to the concepts of weight loss and physical health?
  • How do you think current diet trends and cultural health movements impact the way you approach your personal health?
  • What diet or exercise plan (or lack thereof) make you feel your best?
  • How do you handle conflicting advice from healthcare professionals, the media, and other sources of health information?
  • What would it look and feel like to achieve a higher level of physical well-being? 
  • What stands between you and a higher level of physical well-being?
  • What\’s one thing that stood out to you in this conversation, or your reflections on this topic in general?
  • What\’s one thing you want to focus on related to this topic or your physical well-being as a whole?

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