Diet or Exercise? Which Is More Important For Weight Loss?

food pyramid

This debate has been raging for decades. Ever since there have been diet, weight loss, and exercise businesses, the debate has been going on. What is more effective for weight loss, eating right or exercising?

Eating right and exercising are both important for different reasons. Both are important for maintaining health. Both are also important for losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Those on the eating right side of the issue talk about how it is easier to avoid a food than to burn off the calories from that food. There is a lot of truth to that.

On average, a big cookie, doughnut, piece of cake, or pastry can be upwards of 300 to 500 calories per piece. On average, a person walking for 1 hour will walk 3 miles and burn 250-300 calories. It is going to be much easier to avoid that sweet or pastry than it is going to be to burn off those 300 calories.

According to Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, “as a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75% diet and 25% exercise.”  An analysis of over 700 weight loss studies showed that people see the largest short term results when they eat smart.

Mr. Talbott recommends staying away from low carb diets. He says that they are great for short, term weight loss, but are very hard to maintain. He recommends a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

He also recommends eating at least 10 calories per pound of body weight per day. That way you don’t eat too little. Cutting back too much on what you eat will cause your metabolism to slow down and make it even harder to lose weight.

Talbott concludes with the thought that “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.”

While you can’t out exercise a bad diet, exercising will decrease the effects of a bad diet.

I know people who keep themselves in shape and eat healthy during the week only so that they can go out on the weekend and eat big meals and drink wine and not have to worry about it. They don’t have to worry about it because they are taking care of themselves consistently. If you take care of yourself consistently, then you don’t have to watch every meal you eat. You can eat some bad for you foods and bad for you meals, occasionally.

Exercising will decrease the effects that an unhealthy diet will have on your body and overall health. Just as healthy eating will decrease some of the unhealthy effects of not exercising.

If you try to lose weight through diet alone, you will be neglecting an essential component of your overall health. If you try to lose weight through diet alone, then you will be losing bone density and muscle mass along with the fat that you are losing. Working out stimulates the production of these tissues. Therefore when you work out, you will only be burning fat.

Burning calories and burning fat is the only way to lose weight. The more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose. During the first 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, you will make the biggest difference in your overall health. This is when you will lower your chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. After the first 20 minutes, you burn calories.

Muscle weighs more than fat does. As you replace fat with muscle, you might not see any difference on the scale. Even if you don’t lose any weight from exercising, you will be replacing fat with muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, your clothes will fit you differently, you will be leaner and feel better, but you may not lose much weight.

If you try to lose weight through diet alone, your health will be compromised. Exercise decreases the chances for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and weight gain. Eating right will help out with those areas, but you will see the most difference from exercising.

It has always been my opinion (reinforced by what was taught to me in my master’s of human nutrition course load) that you will see more difference from just exercising then you will from just eating right.

When it comes down to it, you will see the most difference by combining the two and allowing them to affect you together.

Eating right will decrease the amount of weight you have to lose. Eating right will decrease your chances of cancer and other disease processes. Eating right will prevent you from gaining more weight as you age. Eating right will decrease systemic inflammation and allow your body to feel better and be less injury prone.

Exercising will allow you to stabilize your joints. Exercising will allow you to slow down the progression of arthritis and other joint issues. Exercising will give you the best chance possible of being able to do the activities that you want to do as you get older. Exercising will allow you to get the most out of your body. Exercising will decrease your chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, etc. Exercise will allow you to burn off calories and excess weight.

Exercising and eating right will help you to slow down the aging process naturally and gracefully. The 2 together  work better than either one of them separately. If you want to feel better, age gracefully, avoid disease and cancer, then exercising and eating right is your best chance. There is no 100% guarantee with anything. Give yourself the best chance possible to feel well and be able to do the activities that you want to do.

Combining low impact and low intensity exercising and healthy eating to get the most out of your lifestyle is intelligent. Exercising and eating intelligently, rather than harder, is Pain Free Way.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *