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Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

Diet vs. Exercise for Weight Loss: Which is More Important

When wanting to lose weight, you may find yourself cleaning up the diet or joining a gym. But does one result to greater results? Find out what the research says when it comes to diet versus exercise for weight loss.

Diet vs. Exercise for Weight Loss: Which is More Important

You may have seen it before... Translating the number of calories in food to a number of exercise minutes, including "One cookie will take X number of minutes to walk off..." 

The statement holds value not only as a reality check, but just how much easier it is to consume calories rather than burn them off. Additionally, people can pack on calories without actually realizing just how much they are adding, even when believing they are making a more health-conscious decision. 

Take a salad for instance... Yes, those greens were a good start, but then the presence of heaping scoops of croutons and large drenches of dressing make that salad fairly less than nutritious.

 And while these instances serve true in theory, what exactly does the research say when it comes to diet versus exercise for weight loss?

Diet Versus Exercise for Weight Loss

While the harmonization of a nutritious diet and regular exercise can facilitate weight loss, research suggests one may be more effective over the other. 

A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, conducted at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, suggests exercise alone does not lead to weight loss. In fact, researchers assumed wrong that exercise proves key to weight loss. 

While exercise can create calorie burn, therefore potentially leading to a caloric deficit, exercise alone may not be an effective weight loss approach. The ineffectiveness is thought to be related primarily to stimulated hunger following exercise, which may in turn cause overcompensation with food and dismiss any sort of caloric deficit. 

Public health scientists of the study, Drs. Richard S. Cooper, MD and Amy Luke, PhD further went onto say, "This crucial part of the public health message is not appreciated in recommendations to be more active, walk up stairs and eat more fruits and vegetables. The prescription needs to be precise: There is only one effective way to lose weight -- eat fewer calories."

Diet and Exercise: Which Is More Important?

According to the data, diet takes the cake (well, not literally) as the most important component for weight loss. But ultimately, it is undoubtedly beneficial to pair the two together. 

While diet and exercise both have considerable benefits to health, one really should not be discouraged over the other, as a nutritious diet cannot build muscle alone while regular exercise cannot supply ample nutrients. 

Additionally, both exercise and diet have a strong tie to reducing and preventing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and age-related conditions. Supplementary to a well-balanced diet and consistent exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are also significantly beneficial to health.

If needing assistance on eating for weight loss, consider a meal service that delivers well-balanced meals delivered straight to your doorstep. 

And while most so-called "diet food" may be lacking in flavor, an extensive menu of flavor creations, including chicken stuffed with spinach and feta, pork tenderloin with olive tapenade, jerk spiced tilapia, hickory smoked BBQ beef with Yukon gold potatoes, and turkey breast with cranberry chutney and wild rice blend (just to name a few...), are sure to satisfy both the waistline and taste buds!

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on February 16, 2019.


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