What Is More Effective: Diet or Exercise?

If you want to watch the pounds melt away, it is better to focus your efforts on diet or exercise? There are many benefits from both of these health goals. But if you are looking for ways to optimize your results, then you need to pair a healthy diet with a regular exercise routine as well.

Depending on who you talk to, there are varying opinions about whether diet or exercise is more important for weight loss. You might hear one person say that diet is 80% of the effort and exercise only accounts for 20% of your results. On the other hand, some people have the opinion that you can relax your eating standards if you are consistent with your workouts.

Looking at the Numbers: How to Lose 1 Pound

One of the most important things you need to consider is the amount of effort it requires to achieve a negative energy balance.

Your body loses weight when you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. So, you have two options to reduce fat storage: eat fewer calories or increase the number of calories you are burning. When you are proactive about both of these efforts, then it’s easier to lose the weight more quickly.

If you look at the math, it requires a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat. You can reduce your calories over the course of a week or two to achieve their deficit. Or, increase your exercise to the point where you are burning more calories than normal.

The optimal solution is to find a balance between diet or exercise. For example, you might aim to burn 1000 calories through exercise in a few days. At the same time, be proactive with your meal planning to create a 2,500-calorie deficit in the meals you are eating. That will add up to a total deficit of 3,500 calories for the week – which should be a pound of fat that you will lose.

Effort to Manage Calorie Consumption and Burning

The truth is that diet is often more effective because of the effort required to create a large calorie deficit through exercise. For example, if you want to lose a pound per week without changing your diet, then you’ll likely need to run between 7 to 10 miles a day to create a big enough calorie deficit.

Most people can’t maintain this strenuous exercise routine. It’s especially hard when people are in the overweight or obese levels, because they don’t have the fitness or endurance to exercise that much.

The myth is that joining a fitness bootcamp or running a marathon will be enough to help them lose weight. Yes, these exercises can contribute to weight loss by building lean muscle and burning calories. But people are often disappointed in the results because they don’t proactively change their dietary habits.

Diet to Lose Weight, Exercise to Keep it Off

Changing your diet is one of the fastest and most effective ways to lose weight right now. Adding exercise into your routine is a great way to keep the weight off in the future. It’s a two-step approach so you can experience immediate results and long-term health.

Studies show that people who are successful in keeping the weight off in the long term are consistent about getting regular physical activity.

Focus on Sustainable Weight Loss

The problem with asking about diet or exercise for weight loss is that many people are only focusing on immediate results. While it’s nice to drop a few extra pounds, don’t harm yourself by participating in crash diets or excessive exercise.

You might notice fast results if you cut your daily calories down to 500 or 800 per day. But this method stresses the body and it’s unsustainable. In fact, many people find that they gain the weight back more quickly when losing it through a crash diet.

The problem is that crash diets are difficult to maintain for an extended period of time. Plus, these strategies take a toll on your metabolism. It’s a domino effect that makes it harder for you to lose weight in the future.

Instead of looking for the fastest solution to lose weight, focus on improving your health sustainably. Gradual weight loss is safe and effective, giving you the longer-term results that you want to maintain in the future. Depending on the expert that you talk to, the most common recommendation is to lose weight at a pace of 1 – 2 pounds per week.

Creating Healthy Habits to Change Your Life

One other thing to consider when you are asking about effective weight loss strategies is how you are shaping your frame of mind to create lifelong habits.

A common problem with weight loss is that people focus on a shorter timeframe because they are aiming for a specific goal. For example, you might set a goal to lose 20 pounds before an upcoming vacation. You will look good in your swimsuit, enjoy the delicious food, then have a hard time getting back on track when you are home.

It’s better to change your habits so you are creating patterns that last a lifetime. Then, you will lose the weight and keep it off. This approach breaks the weight loss roller coaster so you stop the cycle of losing weight and gaining it again.

The Conclusion: Diet is More Important Than Exercise

You can lose weight without exercising because dietary caloric deficits can be sustainable. But you can’t lose weight if you are exercising and eating a diet that counteracts your exercise expenditure.

This fact means that diet is more important than exercise for your weight loss goals. But that doesn’t mean that you should skip the exercise routine! Instead, make sure you are moving your body to build strength and endurance. At the same time, balance your diet so you can find the right mix of diet and exercise to burn off extra fat.

If you are looking for a way to reach your fitness goals, then join Fitness Nation today. We offer full-support solutions, including quality exercise equipment, personal training, fitness support, and more. Join our community to learn more about how you can change your life through health and fitness.