What’s More Important For Weight Loss: Diet or Exercise?

So you want to lose weight, but all of your previous attempts have gotten you nowhere. Or you may have succeeded in losing some weight quickly, only to regain it just as fast. Maybe you’ve tried both exercise and dieting, but aren’t sure which is more effective.

While both diet and exercise are important contributors to weight loss, cutting calories promotes weight loss more effectively than increasing exercise. It’s generally easier to lower your calorie intake than it is to burn more calories through increased exercise.

Importance of Diet

Weight loss is generally 80% diet and 20% exercise, and the science seems to back this up. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies revealed that the biggest short-term results were achieved by people who changed their diet. The people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost an average of 23 pounds. The people who exercised without dieting only lost about six points over 21 weeks.

So does this mean you should only focus on your diet instead of exercising?

Not necessarily.

In order to effectively lose weight, your body must be in a calorie deficit. This means that your body should be expending more calories than it consumes. While this can be achieved by eating fewer calories, it is recommended that you also burn some calories from physical activity as well.

Importance of Exercise

It is possible to lose weight from diet alone, but exercise is still an important component. Exercise can help you maintain your weight loss. If you lose weight by crash dieting or drastically reducing your calorie intake, you’re more likely to regain weight quickly. This typically happens six months after you quit that diet. Studies show that people who practice regular physical activity are more likely to lose weight and keep it off over a longer period of time.

So what kind of exercise should you do to support your weight loss journey? Strength training helps preserve and build muscle mass, which increases your metabolic rate over time, allowing your body to burn more calories, even when it is at rest. Aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging, or cycling) can burn a significant amount of calories in a single session and help promote a calorie deficit. Also, regular physical activity burns extra calories and increases your metabolic rate. This gives you more flexibility with your diet so your weight loss journey is more enjoyable and less restrictive.

And of course, beyond helping you lose weight, exercise comes with other impressive health benefits, like improving the quality of your sleep, lowering your cholesterol, and reducing your stress and anxiety levels.

How to Find the Best Diet and Exercise Plan For You

So how can you find the right exercise or diet that works for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all plan for nutrition or exercise. This is where a personal trainer can be instrumental. Personal trainers are not only trained in physical workouts, but are also experts in health and nutrition. Working with a personal trainer means that you will have custom-tailored workout routines as well as nutrition plans that will help you reach your goals faster. Talk to a Just You Fitness personal trainer near you to learn more about how you can combine diet and exercise to successfully lose weight over the long term.