Diet vs. Exercise - The Showdown!

By Shannon Clark B Sc, MA   |   15 September 2017 

When it comes to creating a healthy body, there are two primary factors that are going to need to be put in place. These include exercise and proper nutrition. Without these two elements, sadly, results just won’t be seen.

But which factor is most important?

Some people seriously wish that they could either just diet and skip out on their gym workouts or just hit the gym, but treat themselves to whatever they feel like eating on the diet side of things.

Is this at all possible? Let’s dig deeper and look at this fat loss question.

Nutrition: 80% Of Your Game

For weight loss results, it really does come down to nutrition. In order to get the body utilizing body fat as a fuel source, you must create a situation where you take in fewer calories than you burn off.

This is the basic law of thermodynamics at work. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred from one form to another.

If you eat food (which is a form of energy) and don’t burn that food off, it has to get transferred into another form of energy. That form of energy in this case is your body fat stores. There’s simply no getting around this. Eat too much and you will gain body fat.

It really doesn’t matter how much you exercise, if your nutrition is not in proper alignment – your calorie balance isn’t where it needs to be – you simply will not see the progress you are hoping for.

On top of that, eating the right mix of proteins, carbs, and fats is what will ensure that you have the right amount of energy on a day to day basis and that your muscles have what they need to sustain themselves properly.

Exercise: How It Fits In

So if nutrition is so important, you may wonder how exercise comes into the picture. Exercise is basically the icing on the cake. If nutrition causes weight loss, exercise is what tells your body to lose fat mass and not lean muscle.

By exercising while you diet, you convince your body that it still needs the muscle mass tissue to perform the exercises you’re doing in the gym, thus the body is less likely to burn up muscle for energy.

If you aren’t exercising, the chances are high that as weight loss moves along, you’ll lose both fat and muscle. This will, in effect, just make you a smaller version of your current self. And, since muscle is highly metabolically active, it’ll also make it harder to lose weight in the future as your resting metabolism will slow down.

So hopefully now you can see why exercise is so important as well. Technically speaking, you could lose weight using just proper nutrition – a lower calorie diet plan – but you won’t guarantee that you lose body fat by just following a good nutrition plan alone. For that, you need to add exercise into the mix.

And, as far as burning calories goes, exercise does help. Don’t get me wrong there. If you exercise enough during the course of the week, this can help raise your total calorie expenditure so you can eat more foods with your diet plan. But, it doesn’t have you burning up thousands and thousands of calories.

Remember it’s very easy to eat 500-1000 calories in 10-15 minutes with the wrong food choices. It would take about 1-3 hours of exercise to burn off this many calories, so ask yourself, how much do you really want to be exercising?

If you want optimal results, get your diet under control. That is the moral of the story here. Nothing is going to have as large of an effect as keeping your nutrition plan in check.


...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at anytime!

Shannon Clark is a qualified nutritionist and a regular contributor to HB Insights. She specialises in weight control and management as well as optimal fitness performance. She's devoted to helping readers obtain their own personal best health and fitness and stays on top the latest trends in the industry.


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