Diet Vs. Exercise: Which Is More Important?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Many of us struggle with weight loss and weight management. How do you go about it in the most effective way? People always talk about the importance of eating healthy and exercising. In fact, by doing these two things you are guaranteed to lose weight and get in shape. The problem is, eating healthy and exercising are difficult, especially if you are going all out on both fronts. This begs the question: which is more important for someone who wants to drop a dress size or two?

The simple answer is that your diet accounts for about 75% of weight loss, while exercise accounts for the remaining 25%. But, it isn’t quite as simple as that. You might think that seeing as 75% of your weight loss comes from diet, why bother exercise at all? Exercise and diet work in tandem and you need both to stay healthy and lose weight.

Making sure you maintain a good level of fitness through regular exercise is essential. When you lose weight through exercise you are burning mostly fat and replacing it with muscle. Although muscle actually weighs more than fat, it takes up less space and so you will look smaller – even though the number on the scale will be higher. Experts recommend between five and seven workouts a week, each totalling around 50 minutes. Workouts that involve using your body weight against gravity – press-ups, lunges, squats etc. – are the best way to get lean quick.

On top of the relationship between exercise and your weight, there are a number of other perks that come with working out. The first is that it can help improve your sleep cycle. Wearing yourself out in the gym or on a long run means that by the end of the day you should be able to sleep like a baby. Exercise can also make you feel happier and reduces your stress level.

So, what about diet? Well, diet is really, really important. If you binge on burgers and fries five times a week you are going to look and feel like garbage. It is as simple as that. Even if you are exercising loads, an unhealthy diet will win and you will gain weight. The reality is that it is much easier to avoid the calories in the first place than to try and burn them off afterwards. In other words, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet.

The best diet for someone who wants to lose weight is one that focuses on lean meats, veggies, whole grains, and fruits. While fruit is often demonized for being too sugary, most fruits contain important vitamins that are essential for a healthy diet. Fibre, protein, magnesium, calcium – these along with many other elements are vital for staying healthy.

If you are unsure of how much you should be eating each day, experts recommend allowing 10 calories per pound of body weight. In other words, if you weight 200 pounds, you can eat 2000 calories per day. But, this should be 200 calories of low fat, good quality food. Although low-carb diets are increasingly popular, they are not always the most sustainable way to lose weight. Instead of cutting carbs out altogether, opt for wholegrain options. Most importantly, don’t punish yourself. Life is too short to constantly regret or feel guilty about what we eat. If you need a spoonful of nutella as a snack then do it – just don’t go overboard.


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