Weight loss, the most sought-after fitness goal of the modern world. Rise of obesity is going bonkers, bringing along with it a slew of health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and weight-based stereotypes.
Why you or anyone else wants to lose weight
Regardless of the reason why you or anyone else wants to lose weight, no doubt that finding the best way is just as much of a struggle as actually doing it. The common understanding is that you have to work out hard and eat healthily. But between exercising and dieting, which one will help you lose weight most effectively? Let’s look at the physiological process of weight loss first. Generally, weight loss occurs when net energy expenditure exceeds that of net energy consumption.
Burn more energy, Measured in calories
Simply put, burn more energy, measured in calories, than you consume. Energy expenditure occurs mainly through three factors: The one that accounts for most of the energy is your basal metabolic rate or BMR. This accounts for all the bodily function during rest, such as your heartbeat and brain functions. Another factor is the thermic effect of food or the energy used during digestion. And the third factor is physical activity, determined by any type of movement you perform, including cleaning, walking the dog, and of course, exercise. Of the three factors, physical activity is really the only thing you can manipulate in any appreciable manner. You just have to do…
What and how much you eat?
Well, more physical activities. Energy consumption, however, is completely under your control. You are responsible for what and how much you eat. Some might doubt this, but as far as the research goes, losing weight generally comes down to eating less than you burn. So, the exercise burns more energy and dieting decreases energy intake. Now, we simply compare which one does their job better. And DIETING seems to be the easier path.
Take a hundred calories for example: With dieting, that means eating only half of that chocolate bar or take one less bite of that burger. With exercise, burning 100 calories means running a whole mile or walking the dog for half an hour. Increase it to 250 calories, and that’s skipping the whole chocolate bar or a handful of fries versus a whole hour of weightlifting. Unless you’re a fitness freak, eating less will almost always be easier than exercising more.
The goal of weight loss
And even more so if you focus on eating low-calorie, nutrient dense food which will make you feel more full instead of the high-calorie junky type which makes you feel like reaching for seconds. So, does that wrap up the argument? Just diet and not exercise at all? Well, not exactly. The goal of weight loss shouldn’t start and end with the sole focus on seeing the number on the scale go down. Exercise, although not as effective as dieting for weight loss, per se, it still comes with a lot more health benefits that everyone should have.
Now, for people that are extremely overweight, simply losing weight is already a huge health improvement. If just dieting works for them, then that’s perfectly fine. For people capable enough, exercise most certainly should be part of the plan. The obvious benefit is burning more calories and giving you the green light to finish that chocolate bar. Exercise will also improve your overall heart health and lung capacity.
Some even benefit from the therapeutic high of certain exercises along with the awesome benefit of burning more fat for energy granted you are eating enough protein. And one thing about only dieting for weight loss is that your body will eventually adapt to the changes. The longer you diet, the more your BMR lowers and your body becomes a clingy fat lover.
Muscle protein breaks down often, stress hormones elevate, and your appetite gets shaky. Less energy ends up being burned and you will need to eat even less than before to keep losing weight. Adding exercise, however, makes life a whole lot better. BMR might still go down, but much slower with exercise than without. It will also slow down muscle breakdown and increase fat breakdown to provide muscle energy.
It also means looking leaner and getting stronger as you lose weight, especially for beginners. With just dieting, you simply end up being a smaller version of your pudgy self. But keep in mind that exercise still requires an overall calorie deficit to lose weight. The saying, “You can’t outwork a bad diet” still rings very true. Now weighing diet and exercise with all the added benefits considered, exercise might be the overall better approach.
Sure, you lose weight slowly but you don’t have to starve yourself and become healthier, stronger, more muscular, and, most of all, happier. Doing both in tandem will probably be the best, but if I had to choose one, you can find MY answer at the gym. What’re your thoughts on exercise versus dieting? Which one is better for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.