It’s an age old question when it comes to weight loss. Diet or exercise? One may be easier than the other for a lot of people, which explains why so many want an answer. Let’s start with the basics then.
In theory, weight loss will occur when there is a calorie deficit. In other words, one must burn more calories than they consume. Both diet and exercise are great options to maintain health and fitness, but when it comes to weight loss alone, there are some key differences between the two.
Short Term Weight Loss
One factor to consider is the time frame. To drop your calorie intake with just exercise may be impractical. For example, to lose one pound of bodyweight in a week, one must have a deficit of 500 calories per day. To burn 500 calories, one must walk at a brisk pace for just under two hours. An hour of continuous swimming can also burn 500 calories. There are other forms of intense exercise that may help you burn 500 calories in less time, but all of these activities pose the danger of making you hungry right after. This also means that you tend to be physically inactive throughout the rest of the day. The average healthy meal is 450 calories but because of your workout-induced hunger, you may end up eating more than you burn. In the short term, diet is the way to go to achieve quick weight loss.
Long Term Weight Loss
In the long term, a calorie deficit through diet is hard to maintain since it can slow down your metabolism. So, it can slow down your rate of weight loss in the long run. This is where exercise comes in. Like we said earlier, intense exercise aimed at burning off the target amount of calories can set you back since it can make you feel hungrier. Instead, you can use exercise to burn off a certain percentage of the calories while the remaining amount is reduced from your diet. Combining the two helps you maintain muscle mass as well. Since muscle has a higher metabolic rate, you can sustain your rate of weight loss for longer.
Another factor to consider is your present lifestyle. If you already lead a physically active life or your job is physically demanding, increasing the amount of exercise may leave you fatigued and strained. In this case, dieting is a great option. If your caloric intake is high to begin with, and you do little to no physical activity, dieting may be recommended initially to kick start your metabolism. You can then slowly incorporate some amount of moderate exercise to start building muscle mass and increase metabolic activity.
Whether you choose to diet or exercise, the body can benefit from both practices. It is important to enjoy any type of food in moderation. Studies also show that a moderate amount of physical activity is crucial to maintaining health and avoiding the onset of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity. A healthy combination of both methods is your best bet as a practical, sustainable regime to maintain a healthy weight.