Which Is Better for Weight Loss: Diet or Exercise?

What is better for weight loss, cutting calories, or increasing exercise? Cutting calories seems like a bit of a no-brainer — if you burn more calories than you take in, then you lose weight. It sure seems, at least to us here at BODY Divine, like a pretty simple weight loss routine! But exercise seems like it’s about the same thing, even with the same rationale: if you burn more calories through exercise than you take in, you lose weight. Right?

Unfortunately, like many of the notions around a weight loss routine that rely on exercise, it just isn’t that simple. In this blog, we’ll discuss why diet and exercise affect weight loss differently and how you can make nutrition your secret weapon in weight loss.

Diet versus Exercise

While technically, a person could use exercise and diet interchangeably to achieve their weight loss goals, it tends to be much easier for humans to lose weight through diet or diet and exercise than through exercise alone. It’s just simpler to consume fewer calories and shed pounds that way than it is to try to exercise them off.

It’s also not always possible for us to exercise off the excess calories we have consumed. There are only so many hours, and so much available exercise time, available to us busy, social creatures. While it is one choice to not eat that candy bar or packet of chips, it’s another altogether to spend the 42 minutes of fast-paced walking or 22 minutes of running to eradicate the calories from that Snickers bar, or the quarter slice of pizza that is 449 calories requires a 1-hour 23-minute walk or 43-minute run. Frankly, you’re a lot more likely to run out of time and willpower to keep going after you add up everything you need to burn off and conclude that you basically have to run a half-marathon every day at a 10:00 per mile pace to burn off what you can simply not eat in the first place.

That being said, exercise is extremely helpful while dieting to help keep the pounds off, keep cheat days in check, and tone and sculpt your body as it loses weight. It can also be quite helpful in terms of continuing to keep the weight off once you have reached your goal or target weight.

The Importance of Good Nutrition

Good nutrition can go a long way towards helping you lose the weight for the body you want. While an abundance of nutrition plans exist — we’ll explore a number of them in the next blog post — it’s important to find one that works for you, includes foods that you enjoy, and can bring more balance into your nutritional profile, even in terms of snacks, sweets and “cheat” foods.

While all of the different nutrition plans advocate for certain types of eating, many of them also advocate for plant-based or low-calorie density foods. Foods that are low in calorie density tend to be high in water content: they fill you up without the calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great foods that are low in calorie density, and many diets are plant-based or at least plant-intensive, which helps with the consumption of lower calorie-dense foods. If this isn’t making sense, consider leafy salad greens, grapes, melons, citrus fruits, even cruciferous vegetables, squash or carrots. All of these are high in water and low in calories.

Making Nutrition Your Secret Weapon

Nutrition is a powerful ally when you are dieting. You basically have the power to make it work for you or against you. Getting back to the idea of low-calorie density foods versus high-calorie density foods: if you take a grape and a raisin, which do you think is the high-calorie dense food? The raisin, of course (we did already say that low-calorie dense foods included grapes). A raisin is just a dehydrated grape, but in dehydration, its calories are concentrated into a much smaller area (and there are no fewer of them). It’s the filling water (and frequently, fiber) in low-calorie density foods that allows you to enjoy a lot more food for a lot fewer calories. And that may just be the key to a successful weight loss routine.

Just with this little bit of understanding about how calorie density works, you now have a new weapon that you can pack into your toolkit against diet fails and difficulty with food choice. By educating yourself and understanding how nutrition impacts your diet, you have a whole new secret weapon to use. If you’re interested in getting started with a great nutrition plan that could help you shed pounds and reveal a happier, healthier you, contact BODY Divine today.