Food vs Exercise: Which is more beneficial when you’re trying to lose weight?

Vegetables. Photo credit: Jackie (Flickr)
Vegetables. Photo credit: Jackie (Flickr)

Having an active life style is a key component in keeping fit and healthy, but when it comes to weight loss, what’s more important, exercise or diet?

According to experts, when it comes to dropping a dress size or increasing energy levels, dieting is more important than exercise.

Diet image. Photo credit: Laura Lewis (Flickr)
Diet image. Photo credit: Laura Lewis (Flickr)

Doctor Donald Hensrud, chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine at Mayo Clinic, believes the “key to lose weight is simply to consume fewer calories than you burn.

“For most people, it’s possible to lower their calorie intake to a greater degree than it is to burn more calories through increased exercise. That’s why cutting calories through dieting is generally more effective for weight loss”, says MD Hensurd in an article for Mayo Clinic.

Recent studies in Psychological Science have shown that people who emphasise more on diet management to keep their weight down, are more successful than those who think exercise is more significant.

There are two rules to follow to consume fewer calories. Firstly, let your veggie side out and try to stick to eating mainly plant-based food: vegetables and fruits, whole grains and nuts, and heart-healthy fats, like olive oil.

Vegetables. Photo credit: Jackie (Flickr)
Vegetables. Photo credit: Jackie (Flickr)

The second rule is simple; limit what processed foods you eat. Try to cut out carbohydrates from your diet, like pasties, pasta and white bread. And stay away from frozen meals, although they are the easiest option, they are not the healthy option, and usually, there not the best tasting either.

A lot of people believe you can eat what you like if you work out, and overestimate the amount of calories they burn during an exercise. Brent McFerran, professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan says “our beliefs guide our actions…If we eat a 3000 calorie lunch, nearly no one has enough free time in the rest of the day to exercise it off”. This is very true for any student, parent, worker, or generally anyone who doesn’t live in a gym.

However, this certainly doesn’t mean it is necessary to starve yourself in order to shed those few pounds. Crash dieting will often result in you regaining weight very quickly once you stop dieting, and is not a safe way to lose weight.

It also doesn’t mean exercise should be completely forgotten about. Regular exercise is important to keep your body toned, maintain your weight loss, and keep the weight off for longer. Exercise also increases your metabolic rate, helps you sleep, strengthens your bones, and supports a healthy heart, according to Keri Glassman, RD, a Women’s Health weight loss expert.

Exercise. Photo credit: Global Panorama (Flickr)
Exercise. Photo credit: Global Panorama (Flickr)

In addition to this, staying active helps to build strength and flexibility, which will help increase your quality of life, and keep you mobile as you get older.

So basically ladies and gents, restrict the calories if you are looking to lose weight, and try to fit in at least 20 minutes of exercise a day to stay fit and keep those dreaded extra pounds away. The aim is to achieve a good balance of diet and exercise, because relying on solely diet or exercise is like leaving half of the equation out.