With obesity on the rise, now is the time to make lifestyle changes to counteract the trend. While you devise a plan to get healthy, you might wonder which one, diet or exercise, has the largest impact on weight. This question has been haunting fitness and health professionals for decades. The old walking off your dinner concept is losing ground fast, as studies are beginning to show what you eat makes all the difference.
What it comes down to is math. Weight loss is ultimately a game of numbers. You gain weight because you eat more calories than your body needs to function. The human body is conditioned towards survival. It takes those extra calories and saves them for a rainy day. When you look down and see a belly roll – that is the bank of calories building up.
It gets convoluted when you consider the value of some foods. Just like money, not all calories are alike. Fat calories are worth more. When the body burns a fat calorie, it gets more energy. Conversely, it takes less fat calories to fuel body functions. Typically, one fat calorie is worth nine regular calories. If you eat more fat, you are eating more calories and increasing the storage. In other words, cutting back on fat means you automatically cut calories.
So, if all you need to do is count calories, why worry about exercise for weight loss? Exercise is a tool that helps burn calories. Studies are showing that counting calories shifts the balance. You eat less and force your body to draw on its savings for energy. If you eat less fat, you eat fewer calories. Exercise and diet have a symbiotic relationship, however. By increasing activity, you require the body to burn more calories.
Weight loss means cutting calories and that is about diet. Exercise helps tone the body and will burn calories, but not if you don’t manage the intake. You can workout all day long, but if you consume 5,000 calories, you will not lose weight. It’s a contested subject and there is evidence supporting both sides, but when it comes to the basics of diet vs. exercise, diet wins.