As the warmer months approach, many Americans start to look for ways to lose those extra 10 pounds. Yet, many individuals do not know where to start when it comes to losing weight. An age old question regarding weight loss is which is more effective for weight loss, diet or exercise?
As a dietitian who has studied weight loss extensively, I have learned that diet is hands down more effective at shedding those unwanted pounds when compared to exercise. That is 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. For the vast majority of Americans, it is easier to sensibly reduce portions than it is to burn the calorie equivalency off through exercise.
So when it comes to weight loss, what really matters is calories, calories, calories! And when dieters trade in their unhealthy food choices for more fruits and vegetables, overall calorie intake is reduced. 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. For example, consuming 1500 calories per day instead of 2000 per day equals a 500 deficit. 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.
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. Studies show that people who are able to lose weight and keep it off include physical activity in their daily routine. Getting regular exercise also can 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. Regular exercise helps to improve overall mood, control chronic health conditions like diabetes, boost energy, and promotes better sleep.