Diets vs. Exercise: Which Is More Effective?

diets vs. exercise: which is more effective?

The mechanics of weight loss seem pretty simple: Burn more calories than you consume. So why are there so many contradicting theories and opinions on how to achieve weight loss?

One specific area of confusion is which is more important for weight loss—diet or exercise.  Certainly using both leads to the greatest success, but does either diet or exercise have a greater impact than the other?

To help answer this question we can look to members of the National Weight Control Registry. This group consists of people who have lost significant weight and kept it off successfully for a minimum of one year. Of these successful individuals, 89% use a combination of diet and exercise, 10% have had success using diet alone, and 1% use exercise alone. 

These numbers definitely demonstrate the importance of using both diet and exercise for weight-loss success. Another statistic that helps shed some light on the question is that only about 5% of dieters are successful maintaining long-term weight loss. Most people experience "weight cycling," regaining about one-third of the weight being within 1 year and the rest of the weight within 3–5 years.

Woman Working Out

Photo Credit: Lululemon Athletica

So diet alone may not be a long term solution. But what about exercise? Well, exercise might not be the end-all either. Consider how much easier it is to consume a meal at a restaurant (which averages 1,000–1,500 calories) than to run 10–15 miles (an average-size person burns 100 calories/mile). It is much less demanding, time-consuming, and tiresome to pay attention to what you are eating.

However, exercise improves your fitness, increases your metabolism, increases energy, improves mood and helps to fight diabetes. So there are many benefits to exercise that definitely help in the weight-loss battle. Also, it is important to remember when trying to fight the battle of the bulge that most people overestimate the amount of calories they are burning by about 30% and underestimates the amount of calories they are consuming by about 30%.

So keeping track of your activity and your food intake is important and very helpful for weight-loss success. The method for achieving weight loss is simple. The method is known as "energy balance." Simply stated, you will lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume. The best way to do this is by combining a diet and exercise. In other words, to improve your health and lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Do you have a personal experience with diet and exercise? Sound off below! Sources:

Photo Credit: Lululemon Athletica

If you find that you are having a hard time staying motivated, I would recommend reading 10 Ways to Commit and Stay Motivated to Working Out. It's a good read with plenty of good tips and tricks to staying active.

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