Diet / Fit / Fitness Trivia / Workout

Dieting vs Exercise: Which is More Effective?

A lot of people ask me what my secret is to losing weight and keeping it off. I always answer, plain and simple, “A clean diet and an active lifestyle.” AND being the operative word. Most of the women I know resort to just dieting, while most of the men focus on working out. Research shows that when people devote time to one health habit, they tend to spend less time on another. Hard truth is, if you want to see real results fast and if you actually want to keep those results, you need both. The question is, just how much of each do you really need?

According to several studies, people who believed that one’s diet is more important in weight management had a lower BMI (body mass index) than those who view exercise as a bigger factor. Conversely, those who prioritize exercise over what they eat had a higher BMI. Now in order to test just how much weight-control beliefs affect food choices, researchers offered unlimited chocolate to their respondents. As expected, those who believed in exercise more ended up eating more than those who focused  on dieting. Are you starting to see who’s winning here?

One study said that although exercise plays an important role in weight loss and maintenance, and gives you a bunch of other health benefits aside from feeling like a total warrior, people tend to overestimate the amount of calories burned during a workout and after, during the so-called “after burn” – that 24-48 hour window after a workout when your body is supposedly a fat burning machine. Not entirely true! Even though the after burn is real, studies have shown that it only lasts a few hours and can only burn up to 190 extra calories, which doesn’t really amount to much.

The key to weight-loss is to burn more than what you consume. So, if you’re going to stick with the fast food, junk food, and sweets in between workouts, don’t expect to see much results any time soon.

Your diet is number 1! You can live in the gym, but if you don’t eat clean, you’re wasting your time. -Jessica Jessie, IFFBB Pro Bikini

It’s easy to feel like exercise is the bigger factor in losing weight because it just feels more proactive. You’re always moving, you’re sweating, and if you do it right, it just hurts so good. But countless studies have proven time and again that changing your diet is a more effective way to lose weight. Given that each pound of fat yields about 3500 Kcal of energy, reducing your daily calorie intake by a mere 500 will make you drop 1 pound every week without exercise. If you want it to happen quicker, add an exercise routine for support and for all the other awesome health benefits being physically fit brings you. But keep in mind that you cannot out-train a bad diet.

“Calories in” add up much more quickly than “calories out.”

So before you have that 600-calorie milkshake, or that 400-calorie burger, imagine the time and effort you’ll have to clock in at the gym just to make up for it.

2 thoughts on “Dieting vs Exercise: Which is More Effective?

  1. Hi, Anna!

    This is a great article!

    I just want to ask you about exercising and BMI. They say the muscles weigh more than fat. Could that be why those who prefer exercise over dieting have a higher BMI?

    I’d love to hear from you.


    • Hey Gianna. So sorry it’s taken me months before I finally got around to replying. Things got a bit crazy over here. Haha 😉

      About your question, yes definitely, muscles are heavier and denser than fat, hence a higher BMI for those who are more toned or buff. I gain a bit of weight whenever I lift weights or use the gym machine, but I look leaner. It’s really the muscle. 🙂

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