What works better for weight-loss? Diet or Exercise?
Which one of the two is more effective?
Do I have to do them both, or can I do one of them only?
The basic requirement for weight-loss: Energy deficit
Weight-loss is based on energy (or calorie) deficit. That’s basically the difference between the calories you eat and drink, and the calories your body burns in a day. If you’re burning more calories that you are consuming, you’re in a ‘deficit’. If you achieve a deficit of about 7,000kcal, you should metabolise 1kg of bodyfat.
So let’s do the maths:
Say you’re a woman, and you reduce your calorie intake from your usual 2000kcal per day to 1500kcal per day. That means you’re achieving a deficit of 500kcal per day from your food. If you also walk for 30min per day, you’ll burn another 200kcal , so your deficit would increase to 700kcal per day. If you do this daily, you should theoretically be able to lose 1kg of fat every 10 days.
As you can see from the example above, diet has more than double the impact on your weight-loss compared to exercise (500kcal vs 200kcal). The challenge lies in knowing how much food makes 1500kcal, and controlling oneself on a daily basis not to exceed that intake.
You could achieve the entire deficit of 700kcal per day exercising only, but you would have to exercise about 2 hours every day of the week (depending on intensity). Not many people have the time or willingness to do that on a daily basis.
An additional issue that arises when exercising a lot is that the body up-regulates your appetite, in order to make you eat more. Therefore, without realizing you will eat a bit more every day, reducing your daily deficit and making it harder to lose weight.
In fact, a recent study done on 320 post-menopausal women whose weight ranged from normal to obese showed just that. These women were randomised to either an additional exercise or no additional exercise group (the control group). Those in the exercise group were instructed to do 45 minutes worth of moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise, 5 times a week for a whole year. Both groups (the additional exercise and the control group) were instructed not to change their diets.
At the end of the year, it was found that the exercise group, compared to the control group, lost an average of 2 kg of fat. For most people that’s not a satisfactory amount of weight loss in 1 year. It took them about 77 hours of walking to lose 1 kg.
If you diet only, without exercising, total weight-loss can be significantly faster. However, much of the weight lost is not fat, but lean muscle tissue together with some water.
2 problems arise here:
You are using the scales as your primary measure of progress. Your weight is dropping, but only some of that weight is actually fat. Your body shape is not really improving, you are just becoming a smaller version of what you were before.
The muscle tissue you are losing is contributing to a decline in metabolic rate, which will eventually put a stop to your weight-loss AND will make it very easy for your body to regain the weight you lost. This is why 90% of people who diet (and dont exercise regularly) regain all their weight.
The best solution
The best solution to weight-loss is definitely a combination of dietary control and exercise. Diet will bring about a large-enough caloric deficit to allow for a satisfactory rate of weight-loss, whilst exercise will boost metabolism, limit loss of lean muscle tissue, accelerate fat metabolism, help control blood sugar levels and bring about numerous other benefits, including:
- Better body shape
- Leaner, more toned muscles
- Stress reduction
- Improved sleep
- More energy and better mood
- Increased strength, stamina, coorodination and balance
- Postural improvements
- Alleviation of back pain and joint pain
- Improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.
- Activation (expression) of thousands of health-promoting genes
- Reduction in risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more
Our coaching programmes
For these very reasons, all our programmes that have fat-loss as a goal include both one-to-one nutrition coaching as well as personal fitness training.
Our nutrition programmes focus on addressing and rectifying a client’s current eating issues. These may vary from eating too much, too late, to nibbling too much, consuming too many sweets, excessive alcohol intake, emotional eating, etc.
Each client is different, and although general rules of healthy eating apply to everyone, these rules are very flexible and can be customised to each individuals needs, preferences and time-availability.
It is not necessary to eat 6 times a day to lose weight. For many people this is impractical. There are many case studies of people that eat as little as once a day (1 meal in the evening!) and they still achieve fantastic results.
If you are interested in optimising your eating habits long-term and embarking on a regular, supervised exercise programme to improve your fitness, health and wellbeing, give us a call today on 27877445/99877445 , or contact us here.
We look forward to meeting you!