Is Diet Or Exercise More Important for Weight Loss?
Let’s say there are two women, Jackie and Sarah, who want to slim down a bit – they each want to shed about 10 pounds. Jackie plans to tackle this task by increasing her exercise level but keeping her dietary habits the same – her eating isn’t horrible, but it isn’t perfect, either. She hadn’t really been exercising much before, but now plans to work out with cardio and weights four times per week, for one hour each time. Sarah, on the other hand, plans to be super-strict about her eating, putting a safe-but-challenging limit on her daily caloric intake. She plans to maintain a pretty casual exercise schedule – working with her trainer sporadically and taking leisurely walks a couple of times per week. So, the big question . . . who is slated for better success? What really is more important for weight loss – diet or exercise?
The effectiveness winner, by a landslide, is your food choices. What you choose to put (or not put) in your mouth plays a big part in determining how successful your weight loss endeavors will be. Think about this. The fictional Jackie we introduced above may burn 350-400 calories during her workouts. That is impressive, and a big deal, until you realize just how easy it is to consume that many extra calories in a day. Eat a couple ounces of cashews or add some dried fruit and cheese to your salad, or even drink a couple of regular beers (not to mention a certain beloved pumpkin spice coffee drink that people start craving like crazy this time of year), and you’re just about there. Add in the fact that exercising increases your appetite, and it becomes even harder. Jackie would have to burn 35,000 calories to lose her desired 10 pounds. At 400 calories a workout, that’s a little over 87 workouts, all the while not over-indulging in extra calories.
Sarah, with her diet-based plan, really just has to (for example) eliminate her daily dessert, her afternoon soda, and swap out her morning bagel and cream cheese for a couple of eggs, and she’ll already be down around 750 calories per day –WAY more than a typical person will burn during a workout, and the workout won’t usually happen every single day the way a diet plan can.
Now, lest you get ready to toss out your gym shoes and consider exercise a wasted effort, let clear up a couple of things:
If exercising is at least a little bit effective in losing weight, and controlling your diet is even more effective doing both, smartly and simultaneously, will bring about the quickest results possible.
The benefits of exercise are vast, impressive, and life-altering, pure and simple. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another single element that can reduce stress, improve your mood, increase your heart health, help to keep your cholesterol in check, build and maintain muscle tone, help you sleep better, keep you feeling and looking younger, improve your immune system, keep you primed for whatever daily tasks you need to accomplish, improve your skeletal health, and more.
At Fitness Together, we are proud and excited to offer you the very best in nutritional and fitness coaching, because we understand the importance of each of these elements in your healthy endeavors. Whether you, too, want to lose a little weight, or simply desire to feel and look the healthiest you can, our coaches are trained in everything you need to know. And we’re excited to share it with you. The debate may be put to rest, but our striving efforts to help you will never be.