Nutrition

Is Dieting or Exercise Better For Weight Loss?

Is Dieting or Exercise Better For Weight Loss?

When it comes to losing weight, we are constantly being bombarded by advertisements that may leave us thinking that an amazing physique is achievable through taking some pill twice a day and not putting any effort in. In fact, adjusting your current dietary plan to lose weight while getting rid of fat can be a prolonged process requiring persistence, self-education, and lots of hard work. The weight does not shed itself off of our bodies, and when focusing on dropping a few pounds, we should focus on basic dietary principles that apply to losing body fat and decreasing weight.

Let’s talk about some basics for achieving effective and sustainable weight loss while answering an important question – is exercise or dieting better for weight loss?


Weight Loss & Calories

First things first, if you’ve been interested in bodybuilding or fitness, you probably heard the concept of getting into a caloric deficit of X amount of calories on daily basis and sticking to the regimen for a certain period of time to see substantial weight loss. In the most basic terms, if you eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the day you will lose weight, and if you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight.

I know this is such a profound piece of information, but an understanding of it and executing your dietary plan with that concept in mind can greatly assist you with your weight management goals. Also, keep in mind that each macronutrient has a different amount of calories packed within. 1 gram of fat has 9 calories, 1 gram of carbs have 4 calories and 1 gram of protein also has also 4 calories. So before you soak your dinner in 5 tbsp of olive oil, think about the number of calories that will total.

sprinting for weight loss


Diet or Exercise For Weight Loss

Regular exercise has numerous health benefits. Besides the more obvious ones, such as promoting cardiovascular health or improving your physical condition, exercising can assist you in reaching your weight loss goals at a much faster rate. If we look at exercising through the scope of calories, we can approximate the number of calories burned throughout the activities we engage in. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a 154-lb person burns approximately 590 calories in 1 hour of running/jogging at 5 mph, or 440 calories while playing basketball for an hour [1].

Plenty of resources and energy calculators examine the number of calories burned during physical activities, but generally the number of calories exerted during an hour of various types of exercise will range anywhere from 200 to about a 1,000 calories. Other factors such as the amount of muscle mass, body weight or age will affect the amount, but generally, you are not going to burn 2,000 calories while walking your dog around the neighborhood for 30 minutes.

The importance of the connection between exercise and the number of calories burned is to describe the significance on watching your dietary choices throughout the day. It is ok to indulge in enjoying your favorite piece of pie sometimes, however, when you do not pay a particular attention to the foods you’re eating, chances are that exercise will play a minor role in regards to achieving your weight loss goals.

Let’s look at some popular foods that might taste great, but that actually have a potential to completely ruin your weight management progress. For instance, enjoying a BigMac medium combo with fries and a soft drink will quickly add about 1,090 calories, along with 44g of fat, 149g of carbs, and 29g of protein [2]. A regular fast food slice of cheese pizza equals approximately 285 calories, 12g of protein, 10g of fat, and 35g of carbs.

As a result, one large 14” pizza can easily amount to over 2,400 calories in one sitting. One last example is my all time favorite cheat food – chocolate fudge brownies. These chocolaty bad boys can easily amount to over 350 calories per 100g, and if you’re a brownie lover yourself you know that its nearly impossible to measure and stick to a weighted serving portion when it comes to brownies.

Why not try a Protein Cookie instead as a healthier high protein snack?

summer fitness


Take Home Message

The main point of this article is to describe the relationship between caloric intake, how many calories are exerted through physical activity and how can all these factors affect your weight control. Keeping your weight off while having an unbalanced nutrition plan with excessive calories hidden in processed foods, junk food, and cheat meals will most likely result in completely slowing down your physical condition process. Even if you exercise on regular basis, based on some approximate information about burning calories you would still have to jog for over 4 hours straight to burn a 14” cheese pizza. Eating excessive “empty” calories with little to no nutritional value is nearly impossible to out-exercise and it is absolutely essential to develop your weight management from creating healthy habits, following a sound and clean nutrition plan, and if you choose so, exercising on regular basis (strongly encouraged).

Try to carefully read nutrition labels and consider the caloric density of foods you allow to appear on your dinner plate to see if the dietary choices are in line with your goals or if they’re actually detrimental to your fitness progress. Don’t forget though, it takes time, persistence, and effort to transform your body so try not to settle for any unrealistic shortcuts. Keep it clean, keep it healthy and good luck with your fitness goals!


[1] Physical Activity For Healthy Weight. Centers for Diease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/

[2] Nutritional Calculator. About Our Food. https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html

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Vojtech Velecky

Vojtech Velecky

Writer and expert


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