So is diet or exercise more important when it comes to losing body fat? I am the author of a fitness site, so obviously I am a big believer in exercise…but to be honest, you can get pretty dramatic results from diet alone. In fact, I would say that 90% of the people who are having a tough time losing weight are simply messing up when it comes to diet.
[The CEO of True Religion Jeans poses with sexy swimsuit models from his recent fashion show]
In a Perfect World You Should Combine Diet and Exercise
For best results, exercise with diet is your best route to a lean body. The problem is this…things don’t always go as planned and life gets busy. There are times when you simply can’t exercise, but you always have time to diet. No matter how busy life gets, simply follow your diet and you will make forward progress. Exercise whenever time allows, but no matter what…stick to your diet (whatever diet plan you end up following).
“You Can’t Out-Exercise a Big Mac”
I can’t remember which of the readers of this blog put that as a comment to one of my articles, but I really enjoy that phrase. A Big Mac has 540 calories. Do you realize how much exercising it takes to burn those calories? Well about an hour on the elliptical trainer at a moderate pace would do the trick! So after an hour of boring cardio, you are back to square one…you probably won’t lose weight at all especially if you added the fries and soft drink. Large fries would be an extra 570 calories and a large non-diet soft drink would be an extra 310 calories. So how much exercise would you have to do to burn 1,400+ calories? Let’s not even go there!
It is Easier to Create a Large Calorie Deficit Through Dieting
A simple approach to losing weight is to create a daily calorie deficit. Basically, the idea is for your body to use more calories each day than what you consume in food calories. So, there are two ways to create this deficit…either consume less calories or burn more through exercising. Each pound of fat on your body is 3,500 calories. So to lose 2 pounds per week, you need to create a weekly calorie deficit of 7,000…or a daily calorie deficit of 1,000. In my opinion it is much easier to create this calorie deficit by not eating those calories in the first place. You would have to spend two hours at a moderate pace on a stationary bike EVERY day to accomplish this!
Fat Loss Isn’t Quite This Simple
The body is actually much more complex than simply responding precisely to a calorie deficit. There are WAY more variables that come into play when it comes to fat loss…the type of food you eat, the timing of your meals, the metabolic effect of exercise, the muscle sparing effect of resistance training, etc…there are a lot of things that come into the fat loss picture that I’m not addressing here.
Diet is More Important Than Many People Realize
I would bet that over 80% of the articles in fitness magazines are about exercise. It does make a lot of sense, because exercising is a much more interesting topic. The funny thing is that diet is equally, if not more important to an attractive physique. Don’t get me wrong…I am a HUGE believer in regular exercise…I just think people are “spinning their wheels” when it comes to getting fit by not paying enough attention to diet. If your diet is bad, a lot of your effort in the gym goes to waste.
Diet is What Makes Your Cardio Much More Effective
If you are going to do a session of intense cardio or HIIT, you obviously want to get good results. If you are downing fast food and drinking soda on a regular basis, you are just getting back to square one with cardio…you will not lose body fat. If you do that exact same cardio workout and follow a clean diet, you will get a huge fat loss boost from that cardio.
Bonus: A Self-Discipline Tip That Works Well
Self-discipline sometimes just depends upon how you view certain things. It really isn’t that a certain person is just naturally more disciplined than other people…often times they just think a bit differently about a certain task. Here is the way I view cardio that almost forces me to follow a strict diet. I tell myself that if I do cardio while following a bad diet, that I am accomplishing nothing as far as getting lean is concerned. Since I do a pretty intense High Intensity Interval Training Routine, I would be mad if I didn’t see results! I follow a clean diet, because I can’t stand the thought of working out that hard for nothing. It works the other way as well…when I’m following a clean diet, I can’t stand the thought of not doing cardio because I know it will be that much more effective!
Note: I’m not putting down McDonald’s in the earlier part of this article. I think McDonald’s gets bashed too much. The company has always delivered exceptional value for the money and now offers healthier alternatives.
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