MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Everyone seems to be looking for the secret to losing weight, but the answer may not be so secret after all.
Weight loss professionals said exercise is not as important as your diet if you are trying to lose weight.
Dr. J.O. Patterson has been practicing internal medicine in Memphis for 28 years. He said diet needs to be the top priority.
"A Big Mac takes an hour-and-a-half of walking to burn that off," Patterson said. "So unless you're exercising a couple of hours a day at a really aggressive pace, you can't realistically exercise your way thin."
Patterson said the weight loss equation is 30 percent of weight loss from exercise and 70 percent diet.
Patterson said weight loss can be simple or complex, but the first thing you need to do is eat real food.
"Vegetables out of the ground is real food; meats can be real food too but the more processed generally the less healthy."
Patterson said when you go to the grocery store, the produce section is the most important section and one of the first sections you see.
He said the more food you get from that section, the healthier your meals will be.
While eating healthier is a smart move, eating less may not be. Patterson notes you should not skip meals.
"If you skip meals and eat less you can lose weight, [but] it tends not to work out. It really helps if you eat more frequently and eat smaller meals."
As far as exercise, the official recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week. This amounts to roughly 30 minutes per day.
Andrea Tutor is is a Mid-South woman who recently lost 30 pounds before her wedding later this month. She said having a partner to work out is key, and another key is making it fun and interesting.
"Yoga, Pilates, cycling, things like that to keep it interesting so you don't get bored," Tutor said. "So recently, the weather has been so nice so we've been able to go for a walk or take advantage of Shelby Farms."
She also said joining an adult softball or kickball league is another way to go out, have fun, and get the blood pumping.
Patterson also said it's not about dieting, but lifestyle changes you can do for the rest of your life to keep the weight off.