Diet VS Exercise – Which is More Important for Weight Loss?

‘You can’t out-exercise a bad diet’ – that’s what some old phrase says, and they would be quite right – because bottom line is this; when it comes to looking out for your body diet – what you put into your body – is key.

 Imagine what you would look like without six months of healthy nutritious food – how your skin, hair, muscles and bones would look like if you filled up on empty calories and junk food? There was recently a case in Europe where a teen has developed permanent sight and hearing damage from eating a diet of mostly chips, white bread, processed snacks, and processed meats over a course of three – five years! Diet is more important than most people know.

But you sure can go without exercise for six months and continue eating excellent nutritional food – you wouldn’t look too bad for it either. Simply put, diet trumps exercise when it comes to weight loss but both are very important to healthy weight loss and maintaining it long term. 

 You need both diet and exercise if you want to lose fat and gain some muscle. Nutritional habits have far greater impact on your body and health goals rather than just exercising, but both play their own important role in losing the weight and keeping it off. The ideal though is to combine healthy nutrition with exercise.Doing both will produce even more success in attaining your body goals and losing weight. 

If you apply 80% nutrition and 20% exercise rule, it is very apparent which plays a bigger role in weight loss. Exercise is just not complete without healthy eating. There is even a possibility for weight gain if changes in diet are not put into place and you increase the amount of exercise you do–this is because exercising tends to make you hungrier as well! Changing your diet is very important because the equation for weight loss is simple — calories in should be less than calories out.  Exercise, on the other hand, is very important to build and maintain muscle which helps the body burn more calories and stay healthy.


It might be nice to believe that you can make permanent weight loss changes to your body if you concentrate only on exercise, but that is far from the truth. If you want to lose weight, then exercise and diet together will yield the best results. 

While exercise is vital for helping you to lead a healthy life, just doing exercises exclusively isn’t going to promote weight loss. A study completed in 2015 found that controlling your calories is more successful than exercise. Further research found that when you work out you might burn more calories, but eventually your body adjusts and the effect on weight loss plateaus if you only focus on exercise alone. This is why it is very important to stress that to get healthy weight loss, both diet and exercise go hand in hand! Eating the right food is very important but physical activity and exercise helps not only build muscle, but also helps reduce risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It also helps in boosting your mood and can help you sleep better.

 Why is diet more important than exercise?

 For many years, physical exercise has been championed as being the most effective vehicle for driving home weight loss. While a good exercise regime is certainly very important; it is nonetheless the diet that drives sustained weight loss. If you are not fully convinced, here are some top reasons why diet is more effective than exercise, along with some steps you can take to benefit from this.

 1. Exercise alone does not drive significant weight loss.

Studies prove this.  Some people become physically active to compensate for the calories they eat. The quality of food and the amount of food though will play a very big role and exercise alone will never be able to counteract the effects of a bad diet. To help with this, it is a good idea to keep a food diary that lists the food you consume, so it is easy to assess if your diet is in line with your weight loss goals. 

 2. Exercise increases your appetite.

Yes, regular exercise can trigger subconscious eating habits, based on research, and that physical exertion increases your appetite and metabolism. Studies also show that those who do adhere to rigid exercise regimes increase their calorie intake simultaneously. This kind of cancels out the impact of workouts – it means snacks and meals need to be regulated to get the weight loss results you want to achieve.

 3. All this increased physical activity hasn’t countered rising obesity levels.

Between 2001 and 2009 in the US, people involved in physical activities increased hugely, yet obesity continued to rise, confirming that exercise is not sufficient to prevent weight gain. One needs to review the nutritional values of the meals they consume because exercise alone will not cut it.

 4. Food is the fuel source that drives exercise.

Many people misunderstand this statement. Without the right calories from the correct healthy foods, you won’t be able to exercise effectively and achieve the weight loss that you desire. You have to fuel your body with the right foods to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

 5. Short-term weight loss driven by diet.

Today’s new age makes everything around us fast paced. We become impatient if we don’t see fast results, and that includes dieting. Experts estimate that weight loss generally consists of 75% diet and 25% exercise, that short-term weight loss occurs through eating smart and lessening the calories you take – in other words, over the short-term, people look at diet first for losing weight over exercise in the same period.

 6. The effectiveness of just exercise for weight loss as a standalone is not effective.

The American Dietetic Association highlights this; that it is almost impossible for overweight people to produce the required weight loss effectively without managing and reducing what they eat – the fundamental rule of weight loss. Exercise is important but diet still has a bigger effect on weight loss.

Is diet or exercise first for you? The answer should be both, but know that changing your diet and eating habits are key to attaining your weight loss goals!

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