Diet vs exercise…which one matters more?
As a personal trainer and nutritionist, I always stress the importance of both to my clients. But if I had to just pick one?
Diet would win, every time.
By diet, I just mean what you eat. What you eat has a direct effect on your body including your weight. When it comes to weight loss, it’s the most powerful tool you have.
Sure, exercise is important and can boost your overall health and fitness, but diet is the weight loss winner. If you don’t quite understand why diet is so key when it comes to weight loss, keep reading!
Diet vs Exercise
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Round 1: Effort
This is a general example. To lose one pound each week, you need to consume 500 fewer calories every day. You can do this by restricting your diet by 500 calories, or adding exercise to burn 500 calories.
Diet: Eliminating 500 calories from your diet is relatively easy. Don’t drink your calories; no coffee, soda, or juice. Skip the chips or fries at lunch and go for fresh veggies instead. Say no to dessert. Making one or all of these changes should help you eliminate 500 calories pretty quickly without much thought or effort. You could also replace breakfast, lunch, or both with a meal replacement shake for a surefire way to cut your calories without feeling hungry.
Exercise: Burning 500 calories through exercise is possible and some people even think it’s fun, but it definitely takes some work. You could run 6.5 miles per hour for 40 minutes, ride your bike for 56 minutes, go on an 80 minute walk, or try out a yoga class for a mere 158 minutes.
And the Winner is… DIET!
It takes so much less time and effort to keep the calories out of your mouth than it will ever take to burn them off. So in this case, diet is the clear winner!
Round 2: Appetite
No matter who you are or what you do, you have an appetite. It’s your brain’s way of telling your body that it needs something–especially when it comes to food. Having an appetite is important. Controlling your appetite is even more important when you’re trying to lose weight.
Diet: By learning more about what you eat and adding more healthy foods to your diet, it’s possible to make yourself feel full while eating less than usual. There are plenty of foods that can fill you up without adding too many calories to your diet. These include foods that are high in fiber, water content, and lean proteins. You can also try adding hunger-blocking snacks and drinks to your diet for a great way to keep your appetite under control.
Exercise: While all that extra moving and shaking is great for your health, it’s also been linked to increased appetite. That’s because many forms of exercise cause your body to release hunger hormones which make you want to eat more after you’re done.
And the Winner is… DIET!
You may not believe it, but it is possible to change your appetite with a healthy diet. As you decrease your daily calorie intake, your body gets used to the new norm and is able to survive on less. That will never happen with exercise because it fuels your appetite and makes you hungrier.
Round 3: Energy
Everyone needs energy. It’s that crucial element that helps you get everything done that you need to do. Energy is an essential component for weight loss. If you’re running low on energy, you’re not on top of your game and it will be harder to make healthy choices.
Diet: If your diet consists of a lot of soda, fast food, and sugar, your energy levels are probably lower than you would like. If you’re eating a healthy diet, chances are that your energy levels are pretty good and you feel more ready to conquer the world every day. There are a lot of tips and tricks when it comes to eating for energy, but the most important thing to remember is that food is fuel. The more nutritious the food, the better the fuel. The better the fuel, the more energy you’re likely to have.
Exercise: You may never wake up feeling like you have enough energy to get everything on your to-do list done and get some exercise, but exercise may be one of the keys to making your to-do list easier to complete. A study done at the University of Georgia found that exercise was a more effective treatment than drugs for individuals suffering from fatigue. And there’s even better news: the study found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise a day, 3 days a week was enough to make a difference.
And the winner is… we’ll call it a tie.
It turns out that exercise and diet both play a big role in your energy levels, so it’s best to let them work together as you wage your weight loss war.
Round 4: Rewards
We all have a tendency to reward ourselves for the good choices we make. But which rewards have the best payoff? The ones related to diet or the ones related to exercise?
Diet: When you make a conscious effort to slim down using a healthy diet, you usually have a specific plan. You become more aware of everything you put in your mouth and, if you’re fully committed, it becomes pretty easy to make healthy choices. Most plans even have a cheat day or a cheat meal built in and those cheats serve as your reward. You look forward to eating that ice cream sundae or going out to a steakhouse with your friends because you know it’s the time for you to kick back, relax, and not think about what you’re putting in your mouth.
Exercise: With exercise, the idea of a reward is a little harder to come by. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love as your main form of exercise, your workout becomes your reward. If you view exercise as something to check off your to-do list, you probably have a tendency to reward yourself in other ways. You’ve put in your time at the gym, so you trick yourself into believing that you’ve earned the right to eat whatever you want as a reward. This kind of thinking is natural, but it’s also really dangerous for your waistline.
And the winner is… DIET!
The rewards of diet are planned and scheduled and fit easily into a healthy meal plan. The rewards from exercise… not so much.
Round 5: Maintenance
After you’ve reached your ideal weight, the next step is maintaining it. So what’s easier: maintaining a diet that helped you lose weight, or maintaining an exercise program that was responsible for your weight loss?
Diet: Once you’ve learned how to eat healthy and how to eat for weight loss, you’ve already won the battle. All you have to do is take what you’ve learned and use it for the rest of your life. You know which foods are healthy. You know how your body reacts to a weight loss program. And most importantly, you know that you can do it! After you’ve reached your ideal, maintenance is taking what you’ve learned and making it a part of your daily life. It’s something you’ve been practicing and perfecting over your weight loss journey and it’s something that’s pretty easy to keep going with for the rest of your life.
Exercise: Suppose you used exercise as your main means of losing weight. If, and it’s a big if, exercise was the one thing that finally got you to drop the extra weight, chances are pretty good that your exercise routine was extreme, intense, and maybe even a little insane. It doesn’t really matter what your chosen exercise was: if you took it to an extreme, it’s going to be pretty hard to maintain. Most people just don’t have the time or energy to make extreme exercise part of their daily life. After all, most of us have jobs, families, and other responsibilities that we have to consider and we can’t spend countless hours in the gym every day.
And the winner is… DIET!
It’s so much easier to make a lifestyle change that involves healthy eating than it is to make extreme and intense exercise a part of your daily life.
The Final Thought
According to TODAY, “Exercise is vital for overall good health. But if you’re strictly interested in dropping pounds, eating less delivers the best results.”
This doesn’t mean exercise has no place when it comes to weight loss, it just means that diet will always have a bigger impact on your weight loss than anything else. Thankfully, there are many benefits to exercise that have nothing to do with dropping pounds and everything to do with getting healthy.
Ideally, you want to make both diet and exercise part of your weight loss plan. Put the most effort and energy into your diet. Make the necessary changes to the way you eat. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your life. And remember that by putting diet and exercise on your team, you pretty much guarantee that you’ll be victorious in your own weight loss battles.
Managing your diet can be difficult, but with IdealShake it’s SO much easier. Reduce calories by replacing one or two meals each day with our delicious meal replacement shake and watch the pounds melt away.
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