The key to weight loss is to consume fewer calories than you burn, right? So, when it comes to losing weight, which one matters more – is it diet or exercise? While it’s true that a combination of diet and exercise are key for long-term weight loss, diet is actually far more important! What you put in your body outweighs how you move your body. You may be familiar with the 80/20 rule meaning 80 percent of your results are from nutrition and 20 percent from exercise – but why?
Exercise Alone Is Not Enough
Going to the gym every day doesn’t negate unhealthy eating. You can lose weight with a strict diet alone yet not with a strict exercise schedule alone. For most people, it would be easier to lower their calorie intake to a greater degree than it is to burn more calories through increased exercise.
Keep in mind though, that without exercising, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat since you’re also stripping away muscle and bone density. You should incorporate a mix of strength training and cardiovascular exercises as both burn calories and lead to stored fat being used as a source of energy. Exercise helps you maintain your weight loss. Also, don’t forget that exercise has many health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing your stress level, and improving the quality of your sleep.
Exercise increases your metabolism which helps increase the number of calories you burn each day but be careful that you don’t overcompensate and eat extra calories just because you feel more hungry. People tend to overestimate how many calories are burned during exercise and think they deserve a treat. As mentioned in previous posts, it’s perfectly acceptable to treat yourself but keep an eye on the calories and frequency of your treats to make sure you’re not undoing all of your hard work.
Don’t Starve Yourself
While it’s important not to overeat and consume more calories than you burn, it’s also essential that you don’t try to “starve the weight off” because that will shut your metabolism down. Instead, make healthy choices and eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism active and feed your body the nutrients it needs.
The Calorie Equation
Let’s get to the specifics. How many calories will help you lose weight? The most widely accepted equation is that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. You can either burn those calories through exercise, or reduce your caloric intake. Safe fat loss is one to two pounds per week so to lose one pound of fat per week, you would need a 500 calorie deficit each day.
Bottom Line: Change Your Diet to Change Your Body Composition
While diet and exercise are both important for long-term weight loss, remember that it’s much easier to avoid calories than to burn them off – you can’t out-exercise a bad diet! You can lose weight without exercise, but you cannot lose weight if your nutrition counteracts your exercise, so what you put in your body is more important than how you move it.
Eating less is far more important than exercising more.
What has your experience been with diets and exercise? Which has worked better for you to lose weight faster or keep it off long-term?