If You Think You’re Going to Out Exercise Your Diet When Looking to Lose Weight, Think Again
I have clients that are dieters, and I have clients that are exercisers. The exercisers far outnumber the dieters.
This group of clients (and people, in general) tend to rely heavily on long exercise sessions to make up for imperfect nutrition.
Is Diet or Exercise More Important To Losing Weight?
Looking at the numbers alone, it’s a bad strategy to rely solely on dieting.
According to The Observer magazine:
“More and more research in both the UK and the US is emerging to show that exercise has a negligible impact on weight loss. That tri-weekly commitment to aerobics class? Almost worthless, as far as fitting into your bikini is concerned. The Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical research establishment in the US, reports that, in general, studies “have demonstrated no or modest weight loss with exercise alone” and that “an exercise regimen… is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change.”
Why Is Diet Important Than Exercise?
Why is this so?
First and foremost, losing weight is about putting yourself in a calorie deficit below what it takes to maintain your body.
This means, if it takes 2100 calories to maintain your current bodyweight, then you won’t realize any weight loss unless you eat less than 2100.
Physical Activity Matters
Performing physical activity will raise this maintenance number, modestly. For example, running at 5 MPH for 30 minutes will burn 288 calories (for a 150-pound woman).
That means your new maintenance number would be 2388.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
When planning on weight loss, you have to keep in mind that it takes a 3500 calorie deficit per week to lose ONE pound of body fat. That’s 500 calories per day.
So, with the running giving you 2388 maintenance calories, you still have to be at about 1900 calories per day to lose ONE POUND per week.
Conversely, 288 calories can be consumed in much less than 30 minutes with far less work.
One BIG MAC hamburger is 560 calories, one small donut is 300 calories. Even healthy foods, like avocado, pack a punch at 270 calories.
It takes time and effort to burn a negligible amount of calories through exercise, and it takes SECONDS to blow a whole session of cardio on a snack.
Exercise Helps With Weight Loss, Too
This is in NO WAY saying that cardiovascular work should be avoided when losing weight. Studies have shown that people who lose substantial amounts of weight keep it off by performing a structured cardio routine, and the benefits of exercise and cardio go WELL beyond calorie burning.
The point is if your intention is to lose weight, understand the role that exercise will play indirectly impacting the number on the scale. It’s small. It should be part of your program, but the main contributor to your weight loss will be your diet. Exercise because it brings so many other health benefits.
When trying to lose weight, never try to out-exercise your diet. The diet will win every time.
Matt Pirtle MA CSCS
Emerge Fitness Training
If you are looking for advice on weight loss through dieting and exercise, it’s time to call Emerge Fitness