When it comes to weight loss, many people wonder if it's better to focus on exercise or diet. While both are important for overall health, research has shown that diet plays a more significant role in weight loss, while exercise has a greater impact on overall health.
Here are some scientific data behind exercise and diet for weight loss, and provide tips for incorporating both into your lifestyle.
Diet and Weight Loss
The old saying "you can't out-exercise a bad diet" holds true when it comes to weight loss. Studies have consistently shown that dietary changes are more effective for weight loss than exercise alone.
One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who followed a low-calorie diet lost significantly more weight than those who only exercised, even when the exercise group burned more calories overall.
Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that dietary changes were more effective than exercise alone for weight loss in overweight and obese adults.
The reason for this is simple: it's easier to cut calories from your diet than it is to burn them through exercise. For example, cutting out a daily 300-calorie soda and a 200-calorie dessert can result in a 1-pound weight loss per week, while burning an additional 500 calories through exercise would take more time and effort.
Incorporating a balanced, healthy diet that is low in calories and high in nutrients is key for weight loss. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats.
Exercise and Weight Loss
While dietary changes are more effective for weight loss, exercise plays an important role in overall health and can still contribute to weight loss. Exercise helps to burn calories, build muscle, and increase metabolism.
A study published in Obesity Reviews found that exercise alone resulted in modest weight loss, but when combined with dietary changes, resulted in significant weight loss and improved health outcomes.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Strength training exercises should also be included at least two days per week.
Finding a balance between diet and exercise that works for your unique needs and lifestyle is key. For some people, focusing on a diet may be more effective for weight loss, while for others, increasing exercise may be more beneficial. It's important to experiment and find what works best for you.
Tips for Incorporating Exercise and Diet into Your Lifestyle
Incorporating exercise and diet changes into your lifestyle can be challenging, but with a few tips, it can become a sustainable and enjoyable habit.
Start small: Don't overwhelm yourself with drastic changes. Start small and gradually increase your exercise and dietary changes over time.
Find activities you enjoy: Exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Find activities you enjoy, such as hiking, dancing, or swimming.
Make healthy eating enjoyable: Experiment with new recipes and foods to make healthy eating enjoyable and flavorful.
- Get support: Surround yourself with a supportive community, whether it's through friends, family, or a support group.
While dietary changes are more effective for weight loss, exercise plays an important role in overall health and can still contribute to weight loss. Finding a balance between the two that works for your unique needs and lifestyle is key.
Incorporating a balanced, healthy diet that is low in calories and high in nutrients, along with regular exercise, can lead to long-term weight loss and improved health outcomes. Remember to start small, find activities you enjoy, make healthy eating enjoyable, and get support from a community.
American Heart Association. “American Heart Association | to Be a Relentless Force for a World of Longer, Healthier Lives.” Www.heart.org, 2018, www.heart.org/.
Atkinson, R L, et al. “Combination of Very-Low-Calorie Diet and Behavior Modification in the Treatment of Obesity.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 56, no. 1, 1 July 1992, pp. 199S202S, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/56.1.199s. Accessed 8 May 2020.
Carraça, Eliana V., et al. “Effect of Exercise Training on Psychological Outcomes in Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis.” Obesity Reviews, 6 May 2021, https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13261.
LASSLO-MEEKS, MILLICENT. “Exercise vs Dietary Change to Bring about Weight Loss.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 97, no. 6, June 1997, p. 583, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0002-8223(97)00148-x. Accessed 13 Mar. 2020.