Is Diet or Exercise Better for Weight Loss?


We’ve been conditioned over the years to believe that the best way to lose weight is to sweat it off with rigorous exercise at the gym, and be mindful of what we eat. If that were entirely correct, we wouldn’t be tipping the scales of obesity as 45 million people spend more than $ 19 billion annually on gym memberships, a number that’s doubled over the past 20 years. The problem lies with the fact that human metabolism is highly efficient, and any excess calories are immediately stored as fat.

More Exercise Leads to More Eating

Despite our best intentions, we eat far more calories than we need at any given time to fuel our muscles and cells. Exercise does burn additional calories, but for many people it pales in comparison to the quantity of food they consume. As you exercise, your body sends the signal to eat more so you’ll have enough energy reserved for the next workout. Your next meal or high carb snack will be larger than necessary to compensate, and the excess calories are efficiently stored for future use.

Exercise is Not an Efficient Weight Loss Tool

Research generated by the Mayo Clinic and reported in Time Magazine concludes that exercise is a very inefficient way to drop excess pounds. Researchers found that intense exercise may actually cause weight gain, as test participants consumed more calories after exercise than they burned, resulting in leftover calories which the body typically stores as abdominal fat. It’s important to understand that exercise is still an essential part of human health, but should not be your primary weight loss tool.

Calorie Restricted Diet Delivers Weight Loss Results

The best strategy to drop weight is to eat a calorie restricted diet with 25% fewer calories than you presently consume each day. For many, this type of restriction will seem severe, so you’ll need to slowly work up to that level by eliminating 100 calories each day for a week. The next week, cut out another 100 calories until you hit the 25% reduction level. Most moderately active women should eat 1200 to 1500 calories per day, and men should target 1500 to 1800 calories to see significant weight loss results.

Exercise is Still Important

Regular physical activity is still vitally important, as multiple studies confirm that those who sit for 8 hours a day are most likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer and die early from any cause. Stay active, and if you have a desk job that requires you to sit for long periods, get up and move around at least once every half hour. Establish a set amount of time for exercise into your daily schedule, at least 30 minutes on most days. Walking is a great activity which keeps your heart pumping and your muscles moving, but don’t plan to eat more afterward to compensate.

People begin exercising or sign up for a gym membership as a way to burn off excess fat, and subconsciously believe this will allow them to continue eating more calories than they need. For most individuals, the calories burned through moderate exercise don’t compensate for the super sized appetites experienced after a workout. While regular physical activity and stress reduction are required for optimal health, calorie restriction is by far the most effective weight loss tool.

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