Losing weight by diet alone is perfectly possible. If you eat less than your body uses, you will lose weight. The problem is that most of us live sedentary lives, and therefore our calorific requirements are rock-bottom low to begin with. You may need as little as 1500 calories a day to maintain your weight, so to lose even a little weight, you could be eating 1200 calories or less. Shorter people and older people are especially vulnerable because of this. It is simply unreasonable to try and lose weight under these conditions.
What is more, the less food you eat, the less nutrients you get. So on that 1200 calorie diet you may not be getting enough vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, etc, to keep your body healthy. This will leave you tired and ill tempered.
Finally, when we stop eating as much our body tends to burn what it can to survive. And when it's burning fat, it has to combine it with protein to make ketones, otherwise it cannot use it. And where will it get that protein from? The muscles we aren't using, of course. Which, if we are particularly inactive, includes our heart muscles.
For those reasons, many of us turn to the traditional cardio routines when we need to lose weight. The idea is that this sort of exercise will keep us moving, keep burning calories, and help us lose weight whilst maintaining muscle. However, it has been found that cardio is not the most efficient way of burning calories for weight loss, nor is it the best way to maintain muscle. Instead, more and more people are turning to weight lifting for their weight loss plans.
There are many ways that lifting weights can help us lose weight. First of all, it burns calories. Cardio burns calories too, but not a lot. It only burns calories based on how many times you move each limb, and burns very little after the activity. On the other hand, weight lifting burns more calories each time you add more weight to your exercises, and will continue to burn a large number of calories by repairing your body as you rest and sleep.
Secondly, it will improve your metabolism over all. Muscle burns more calories than fat, even when resting. This may only add up to a few hundred calories per week, but every bit counts. And what is more, muscle burns calories every time you move it, so if you have more muscle, every time you move you will burn more calories.
Thirdly, it is a great way of shaping your body. After losing weight many of us will suffer from loose skin. This can look unsightly and make us feel unattractive. However, we can't lose all that fat and just have our skin ping back to normal. If you're lucky, or had little to lose, you may get off lightly, but for the rest of us, we need to fill the skin up with something else. Muscle will fill the skin and draw the skin back against the body, reducing sag.
Of course, you need to start lifting weights gently and easily if you want to do it right. Most people could do well to start with cardio and bodyweight exercises, until they have the stamina and the basic muscle mass for real weights. Once you are confident you can move onto free weights or weights machines.
Many women are scared of getting too bulky if they lift weights, especially heavy weights, but this just isn't true. Women do not have the same capacity to put on muscle as men. And, even if we did, any bodybuilder can tell you that it is hard to gain muscle. You can stop long before you get “bulky”, because it would not happen overnight!
This isn't to say that no other type of activity is good for weight loss, or that you shouldn't do anything else. A well-rounded exercise routine is not based on weights alone. A bit of cardio does your heart and lungs a lot of good, and high intensity exercises will improve your stamina and reflexes. But for weight loss, nothing beats weight lifting.