Diet Vs. Exercise: What Should I Focus on?

As a registered dietitian nutritionist and someone who studies weight loss, I have learned that diet is hands down more effective at shedding those unwanted pounds when compared to exercise. Why, when most people think it’s a matter of exercising more or more often? That’s because it is much easier to pass on calories than to burn both those calories off through exercise. For example, the difference between a fast food small French fry and a large French fry is about 350 calories. In terms of exercise, one would have to run a 5K (a 3.12 mile race) in order to burn those calories off.

Start Reducing Your Calories

When dieters “trade in” their unhealthy food choices for more fruits and vegetables, overall calorie intake is reduced. And when it comes to weight loss, the biggest factor is calories, calories, calories! A pound of weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. So in order to lose one pound of weight, there needs to be a 3,500-calorie deficit. This can easily be accomplished by reducing your daily diet by 500 calories. This should provide a 1-pound weight loss per week. Including a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs over a cleanse or low carb diet is much smarter, more effective, and easier to sustain long-term.

Diet Trumps Exercise

Exercise is also important when it comes to weight loss, just not as important as diet. This should be great news for those who are currently unable to exercise or those unwilling to go to a gym at a certain weight. Losing a certain amount of weight often acts as a motivator to get started with physical activity, and also makes exercise much easier as excess weight can make some exercises dangerous, and put undue stress on knees and joints.

Get Regular Exercise

Studies show that people who are able to lose weight and keep it off include physical activity in their daily routine. Getting regular exercise can also help prevent excess weight gain in the first place. And besides weight management, exercise has a slew of other health benefits that shouldn’t be ignored including but not limited to disease prevention. Regular exercise helps to improve overall mood, control chronic health conditions like diabetes, boost energy and promotes better sleep.

In the end, it’s diet that trumps exercise for weight loss but for overall good health -- a good mix of both will keep you looking and feeling great!

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