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If you've made the decision to make healthy changes to your diet and start exercising, you are already on your way to a better you. While you may be tempted to try a fat-burning supplement or that new diet that promises fast weight loss without exercise to help speed things along, save your money and stick to your healthy plan. How long it takes to see results from a good diet and exercise program varies, but your patience and perseverance will pay off.
To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. Following a good diet helps you cut back on your daily calorie intake, while exercise helps you burn those calories. To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to create a daily deficit of about 500 to 1,000 calories. Ideally, you should not lose more than 2 pounds a week. Losing too much weight too fast means you are losing muscle and water, not fat. Additionally, as long as you continue to eat healthy and exercise, you should be able to keep the weight off.
Diet and exercise work together to help improve your fitness level. Your diet provides your body with the fuel it needs to perform physical activities, and exercise helps to improve strength, flexibility and endurance. While you may feel the benefits of the food you eat fairly quickly, benefits from exercise take a little bit longer. According to Pete Pfitzinger, an exercise physiologist and two-time Olympic marathoner, it can take about eight to 10 days after a workout for you to see results. Of course, this number varies and depends on your genetics, lifestyle, workout and ability to recover.
A good diet and exercise program also improves your health, especially your heart. If you have high cholesterol, eating right and getting regular physical activity can lower your numbers in one to three months, according to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. You can also improve your blood pressure in just a few weeks. Over the long haul, a good diet and exercise program reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
A healthy diet and exercise program also boosts energy levels. Food is your body's source of energy, and if you eat good food regularly throughout the day -- three meals, plus snacks -- your energy levels remain up. Exercise increases energy by strengthening your muscles and improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. While you may feel the effects on your energy levels from your good diet almost immediately, it can take up to six weeks before you start feeling it from your exercise program.