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Diet or exercise: Which is more important for weightloss?

Last updated on: June 20, 2012 18:41 IST

Diet or exercise: Which is more important for weightloss?

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Courtesy MyNutraMart.com

Of course, you need a healthy balance of both the right diet and adequate exercise to drop the pounds. But does one outweigh the other? Find out.

This has been an ongoing controversy for many years. For optimal fat loss, should you focus more on your diet or your exercise routine? All in all, you do need a balance of both. You must follow a diet and exercise in order to get the absolute best result. But when it comes down to which contributes more, you may be surprised as to what the answer is.

Simply put, exercise is the easy part...at least for most people. A majority of the population finds it much easier to get to the gym and break a sweat than to put down that piece of bread or stop themselves from another serving of dinner.

Exercise is always more favourable than dieting. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just exercise and eat whatever you want? Well, that's sure as heck not the case! Dieting contributes to about 90 per cent of fat loss, leaving only 10 per cent to exercise. This may come as a big surprise to you, but it is true. How come? Read more to find out why dieting has an advantage over exercise when it comes to weightloss.

You can't out-exercise a bad diet

This is such a popular phrase in the fitness world and it is probably one of the truest statements out there. Many people believe that if they work their butt off in the gym, that they can go home and eat what they want.

The main idea behind exercising is to burn calories. The unhealthy foods that you reward yourself with afterward are chockfull of unnecessary calories. Take this for example: You stop by the McDonald's drive-thru with some friends and splurge on a Big Mac. In the back of your head you're thinking 'I'll just go to the gym later'. Well, hold that thought and put the Big Mac down! In order to burn off a Big Mac, you would need to bust your butt in the gym for at least 90 minutes of full-on intense cardio, just to create a small calorie deficit.

This goes for all foods, not only Big Macs. In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. If you have bad dietary habits, chances are that's not happening and that's the reason why you aren't losing weight. All the exercise in the world can't help a bad diet.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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It's easier to create a calorie deficit through dieting

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So we've already established that in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume.

There are two ways to do this: through diet or through exercise. Here's the deal: In order to lose only one pound per week, you have to burn 3500 EXTRA calories in that week. That means you would have to burn 500 calories every day. For some people, that's a breeze; for others, not so much.

It is much easier to cut calories from your diet than it is to bust your butt in the gym to burn them. You can cut out simple things in order to save 500 calories such as your daily soda, which contains about 120 calories. If you drink more than one soda...well, you get the point.

In the perfect world, you can split it up and cut 250 calories from your diet and burn 250 calories in the gym. However, this is only to lose one pound per week. If you are someone who wants to lose more, you have to do the math and figure out which is more realistic. The majority of the time, it's easier to cut your calorie consumption to lose two to three pounds per week, rather than exercising to burn all of them.


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The food you eat is what fuels your workout

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Conduct this experiment: eat a Big Mac and drink a large soda before hitting the gym one day and then the next, eat a banana and drink a tall glass of water instead. You probably already know which will benefit you more. Your body can't just do what YOU want it to. It's a lot more complex.

Feeding your body unhealthy foods that are high in saturated and trans fat, sodium and way too many calories will definitely have a negative impact on your ability to exercise. Eating those foods is just putting garbage into your body. It's like putting water into your car's gas tank, instead of what it really needs...gas. You are not going to get very far, if anywhere, by doing that. Your body is the same way. You must give it proper fuel to make it work.


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There's a lot more to food than you think

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Food does more than just taste good and satisfy a hungry stomach. This is what your body needs for survival. Food can either make or break a lot of things in your life, such as your weight and common diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Without consuming the proper foods your body will begin to shut down, slowly but surely.


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So which one wins: Diet or exercise?

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The answer is diet. Diet is going to have a greater impact on your fat loss. It will help you shed the weight much quicker than exercising alone will.

There are many things that dieting can do that exercising cannot. The hardest part for most people is the diet anyway. The way you eat goes all the way back to how you were raised. If you ate poorly as a child, you never knew any better. It's much harder to change eating habits than it is to just get up and go for a walk.

The thing with a diet is also that it's much harder to understand how to execute it properly, as compared to exercise. Exercise is simple. You go to the gym, hop on the treadmill and sweat like a pig (there is more to it, but considering only weightloss, it's pretty simple!).

The bottom line is that you need to do both. Dieting will help you lose the weight, but exercising is what's going to tone you up. It's very simple to diet the whole time and lose all the weight, but if you want nicely toned arms, six pack abs, and tight legs, you're going to have to hit the gym. Eating apples and yoghurt isn't going to create biceps!


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