Weight loss is far more complex than the simple recommendation to "just eat less and exercise more." Both serious athletes and fitness exercisers struggle to either lose weight or keep off the weight they have lost. Why is weight loss so difficult? Does the body adapt to a reduced calorie intake? Does dieting "ruin your metabolism"? Or do dieters just have poor compliance? The answer, to date, seems to be that most people have trouble with compliance; it's hard to eat less food (Heymsfield et al. 2007).
As a result of the abundance of yummy food that pervades our environments, flabby thighs and big butts (either real or perceived) haunt many active people. Hence, they work extra hard to burn calories and trim excess body fat. Although some of them successfully lose weight and attribute that loss to their exercise programs, others express frustration that they don't shed an ounce of fat despite consistent workouts. As Sarah, an avid runner and newspaper editor, complained, "I've been running for 10 years now, and I haven't lost a single pound. I must be doing something wrong." Her husband, Peter, had the opposite experience. "I started going to the gym a month ago. I've painlessly dropped 5 pounds." Yes, gender differences exist when it comes to exercise and weight loss.
The purpose of this chapter is to help you learn how to lose body fat by appropriately managing your food supply. You'll learn how to eat wisely, improve your health, have energy to enjoy exercise, and be able to lose excess body fat without feeling denied or deprived. Yes, despite popular belief, you can lose weight without dieting. Even if you are a bodybuilder, wrestler, lightweight rower, or other athlete who needs to make weight for your sport, the same rules that apply to fitness exercisers also apply to you.
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