Starting a fitness journey is not only scary but can also be downright confusing. With our current age of instant information, you’ve probably heard tons of mixed messages and advice on the best direction to take, leaving you unsure of what’s important and if you’re doing the right thing.
In this article, I’ll answer some of the more common questions I get from beginners who may not be as well versed in the basics of fitness. Understanding the importance of these answers will put you in a great position for rapid and sustainable progress.
Do I Need To Workout To Lose Weight?
This is easily one of the most commonly asked questions that I receive both in person and online. First, let me say that I always believe that you should exercise, even if your goal isn’t to lose weight and especially if you want to improve your health.
In addition to burning calories, exercise provides so many benefits that extend much further than that. When you exercise, you have the opportunity to build muscle, strength and muscle definition if you train with resistance. If you exercise using cardio, you’ll burn calories and also improve cardiovascular health.
Even further, if you’re an ageing woman, you’re at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis than your male and younger counterparts. By using resistance training, you can improve bone density and strength, helping to avoid decrements associated with the disease.
However, to directly answer the question, you do not need to exercise to lose weight. Weight loss for the most part depends on how many calories you’re consuming versus how many you’re burning. Only when you burn more than you consume will you lose weight. Fortunately, this can be achieved by restricting calories alone, rendering exercise not a necessity, although obviously always desirable.
Just keep in mind, in addition to all of the benefits mentioned above, exercise will indeed help increase your calorie burn, which can improve fat loss. Further, if you’re not progressing with only adjusting your nutrition, you should consider adding in some type of exercise.
Bottom Line: You don’t need to exercise to lose weight. However, exercise can make the process a bit easier, in addition to providing a wider array of health benefits, extending much further than weight loss. I recommend combining diet and weight loss for the best results.
How Quickly Can I Expect To See Results
How quickly one can expect to see results is also a common question that I receive but one which unfortunately has no direct answer.
Remember that all of us are individuals with different metabolisms, different starting points, different preferences and even time availability. Not to mention, how well one responds to diet and exercise can vary drastically from one person to the next.
In fact, in the exercise research world, there are even people known as “non-responders,” who don’t respond to exercise at all. It sounds crazy, but it’s actually true.
Additionally, progress will largely depend first on if you’re doing the correct things and second on how consistent you are. If you start with a healthy metabolism, eat the right kinds and right amounts of foods and exercise smartly, you might begin to see progress in as little as a week’s time. Alternatively, you might be in this situation and not see any real progress for at least a month.
I’m not here to discourage, rather, I want to ensure that you understand the reality of weight loss and gain. If it were straightforward and easy, everyone would be able to do it. Stay persistent and make the right decisions and changes will come in due time.
Bottom Line: Guessing how long progress will take is like picking lottery numbers. Stay consistent and make good decisions and your progress will come. The more consistent you are, the faster your changes will manifest.
Can I Find Success Working Out At Home?
I commonly receive questions about exercising at home and whether or not doing so is acceptable for weight loss and improving body composition. The simple answer to this question is yes, but the real answer is a bit more complicated.
When you exercise at home, you’ll be limited in the amount of equipment you have available. The issue with this is that equipment allows you to apply resistance and to apply that resistance in a wide variety of ways.
This makes any changes that will occur happen much faster. Furthermore, using equipment allows you to make exact changes. For example, building biceps definition is far more difficult with no equipment compared to having only a dumbbell.
Additionally, without resistance or equipment, you’ll need to train with a very high intensity to actually progress. This means taking most sets you complete close to failure, which can be difficult. If you’re not certain about this, I recommend trying to complete a set of bodyweight squats to failure to understand what I mean.
Either way, working out at home presents a few issues that need to be addressed. Otherwise you won’t be successful. Moreover, I recommend at least purchasing a set of resistance bands and if you’re able, purchasing a TRX strap system for at-home training. If you’re interested, please consider reading the full home workout guide on the blog.
Bottom Line: You can indeed find success working out at home. However, keep in mind that training will be different than at the gym and might be a bit more difficult to see progress.
Is It Just Calories That Matter?
With the emergence of flexible dieting, it’s no wonder that so many people are confused. On one of side of the equation, many flexible dieters will have you believe that it’s only calories that matter. On the other side, many think that quality of food is far more important.
The reality, like most things, is probably somewhere in the middle. Yes, calories matter, but you can also get those calories from only one macronutrient like carbs or fat. In that case, you’ll end up protein deficient.
Further, it’s important to know that different macronutrients act differently once you consume them. The metabolism and function of protein is drastically different from that of dietary fat, for example. This alone should mean that it’s not all just down to calorie intake.
Calories however, provide us with a good metric for progress. Yes, macros act differently, but they also have a caloric content, which make up your total calories. In this instance, even if you restrict carbohydrates, you’re still directly and indirectly restricting calories, even if you don’t realize it.
To answer the question directly, the quality of your food does matter because each ingredient provides differing amounts of each macronutrient. However, the macronutrients of each food product have a caloric value.
You should adjust your macros appropriately and consume high quality food, but at the end of the day, you’re manipulating calories. The quality of the food you eat determines how easily and how efficiently your body will change.
Furthermore, manipulating protein and other macronutrients is a good way to ensure that your body changes how you want it to.
Bottom Line: The quality of the food you eat still matters because macros work differently in the body. However, remember that each macronutrient has a caloric value. In its simplest form, weight changes do then depend on caloric manipulation. Calories are not the whole equation, but they are the most important part.
Beginner Questions Answered
As a beginner, it’s pretty confusing trying to understand what’s necessary and what to avoid. Fortunately, there are some pretty simple answers, even to complex questions such as the ones mentioned.
Understanding the truth behind these questions will put you in a great position to progress in a reasonable amount of time.