Diet vs Exercise: Which is more important to lose weight, and improve your health?

diet vs exercise debate

Diet or Exercise? Which is best in order to become a healthier version of yourself? Although both can be used to lose weight, is one more efficient in order to reach your fitness goals? There’s many questions that have been asked regarding this topic so sit back and relax as you learn how they can both be used to get where you want to be!

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Last Updated on December 22, 2021 by Andrew Blakey

Diet Vs Exercise – What’s More Important?

Diet Vs Exercise. Its a debate that commonly gets brought up in today’s fitness community, with many people having little to no scientific evidence to back up their findings. For the majority of people it leaves them in a confused state which can often lead them to doing something worse – nothing at all.

So what is it about this topic that causes so much confusion?

diet vs exercise debate

The Body Needs Calories

First let’s talk calories. The body needs energy. Fact. It uses and stores this energy in the form of a calorie. Who would have known that the numbers on the back of a cereal box actually mean something!? 

Higher calorie foods simply mean they’re higher in energy. Be careful though because if we are getting too much energy (calories) we store it as fat!

weight gain teeter totter.png

Caloric Density And You

Now I believe something that you really need to understand is the concept of caloric density. Caloric density is simply a way of understanding food in a way that allows you to make better decisions regarding your choice of food selection.

In our life, we have foods that are high in caloric density and low in caloric density.

Foods that are high in caloric density are things that for the same amount of food, have a very large difference in the actual number of calories.

This about how 1 cup of veggies and 1 cup of pasta differ. They’re the same amount of food, but very different in the amount of calories consumed. For reference 1 cup of veggies will typically have around 80 calories, 1 cup of pasta has about 130 calories.

Foods low in caloric density typically have a higher water content and that’s something you can use to help guide you in the selection of foods if you’re trying to lose weight. Try to choose foods that are higher in water content.

The Diet Is More Important Debate

Let’s look at the diet side of the diet vs exercise debate. The argument is that it’s more efficient and easier to lose weight by focusing on cutting out calories.

This makes a lot of sense in that a single pound of fat on your body contains 3500 calories. This means you need to be in a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of a week to lose 1 lb a week.

Think of it like a teeter totter. If on one side you have all the food you’ve consumed in a day, and on the other side of the teeter totter is how many calories you burn during the day. If you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming each day than you would be in a caloric deficit.

diet vs exercise - diet

The opposite is also true. If you’re eating more calories each day than you’re burning, than you would essentially be gaining weight.

Now it’s my belief this is a bit of an oversimplification as I do believe there are other factors involved, but for simplicity this is essentially the model that is accepted in today’s society. I believe there’s many more things that come into effect when it comes to weight loss.

Exercise Is More Important Debate

On the other side of the diet vs exercise debate you have people saying “Losing weight by creating a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise is more important”.

They’re right this is also important. What good is losing weight if you’re still not strong enough to do activities such as climbing stairs, going for hikes, and carrying the groceries in from your car?

diet vs exercise - exercise

By doing exercise and working out, you promote muscle growth and since you have more muscle (which burns more calories per pound than fat) you’re burning more calories throughout the day!

My Thoughts On The Diet Vs Exercise Debate

Although both sides have very valid points, it depends on who you are in order to determine which you need to focus on. The title of this article is “Diet vs Exercise – Which is More Important For Weight Loss and To Improve Your Health”. So let’s break this down even further.

If you’ve spent your entire life eating the very best things for your body but have never stepped foot out of your house, the chances of you being able to go outside and do real physical activity (scary I know!) is slim to none! On the other hand if you are in the gym 4 days a week lifting till your body can lift no longer, but you’re drinking beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner the chances of you being healthy are also not likely.

I believe that focusing solely on calories in vs calories out can be a recipe for an unsustainable routine as someone may begin to obsess on reducing their caloric intake to levels that can even be considered dangerous. Here’s an awesome post we wrote about how to implement a sustainable fitness routine.

What Do You Need To Focus On?

Although both sides have very valid points, it depends on who you are in order to determine which you need to focus on. The most important factor is implement healthy SUSTAINABLE changes.

If you’ve spent your entire life eating the very best things for your body but have never stepped foot out of your house, the chances of you being able to go outside and do real physical activity (scary I know!) is slim to none!

On the other hand if you are in the gym 4 days a week lifting till your body can lift no longer, but you’re drinking beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner the chances of you being healthy are also not likely.

diet vs exercise - sustainability

It is with a efficient combination of both that allows optimal health status. I believe the diet vs exercise debate can be essentially solved by eating properly to obtain a healthy weight (which will take stress off your cardiovascular system), and working out to increase muscle strength so you can have a body that will be able to handle most demands you place on it!

I don’t think it’s a matter of one or the other, it’s a matter of how can you implement both in a way that is sustainable.

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