Diet vs. Exercise – Which is More Important?

Sept, 2012

Myth: If you stop eating, you’ll lose weight and look sexier.

Fact: Yes, if you stop eating, you will become smaller. That’s because the body is basically eating itself from the inside out. That’s NOT good. It starts by depleting your muscle stores before it moves on to the fat stores.  This is very bad news for you if you’re relatively toned and want to lose that last layer of fat. You’ll lose all your muscle tone before you even begin to lose fat.

Myth: If you eat just once a day and workout more often, you’ll burn more fat.

Fact: The only thing that’s correct about the above statement is the “workout more often” portion. Starving yourself not only rids your body of good muscle, but it slows down the metabolism. A slower metabolism can be a product of lack of food intake. When you eat less or go on a “crash diet”, your body is forced to deal with the lack of food by slowing down the digestion and absorption processes. You want it to do the opposite – you want a faster metabolism so that your body gets used to constantly burning the food that you eat.

The key to a faster metabolism is building more muscle. More fat-free muscles means more calories burned.

Myth: Food eaten earlier in the day gets burned, while late-night snacks will take longer to digest and will just sit in your system.

Fact: The body will digest food at the same rate throughout the day, whether it’s morning, noon or night. That’s not to say that you should have midnight snacks because more often than not, we tend to eat unhealthy snacks when we’re tired and lazy. Cutting back on midnight snacks means cutting back on excess calories that could amount to a few pounds lost each year.

Myth: Low intensity workouts at longer intervals burn more fat.

Fact: Remember, the key to the amount of calories burned is the total energy cost. The more energy you expend, the more calories burned. The problem with this principle is that not everyone can sustain high intensity workouts for an extended period of time, especially those who are just beginning to exercise, or those who are coming back from an injury or disease. In those cases, it’s better to start back up and gradually work yourself up to high intensity training.

Which is More Important – Diet or Exercise?

Neither diet nor exercise is more important than the other. If you want to lose weight and burn fat simultaneously, there is no substitute for proper diet and exercise combined. Try doing one without the other, and it won’t come close to the results you would have achieved had you stuck with a combination of both.

Exercise is not just a means to burn fat, but should also be a lifestyle choice. Exercising releases endorphins that will leave you feeling invigorated and more energetic than usual. This could lead to a brighter outlook on life and overall, just make you feel better about yourself. That, in itself, is reason enough to make the leap towards a healthier lifestyle.