There used to be a time when I say there was no way I would give up the foods I love, and that I would just exercise more to make up the difference and burn the extra calories.
But that didn’t really get me anywhere other than back to the ice cream shop.
I think this is a pretty big debate in the health world- which is more important, exercise or diet?
Well, it’s kind of a trick question because they both are important.
But at the end of the day, if you have to choose one over the other, a healthy and well balanced diet will do far more good for your body than an afternoon run. Generally speaking, 75% of weight loss comes from diet, and the other 25% comes from exercise.
And being healthy isn’t about weight loss alone. It’s about fueling your body and being strong.
And exercise alone cannot accomplish that.
The thing is, you actually can’t really even exercise effectively without a proper diet.
But what is a diet, anyways? I think that the average person hears the word “diet” and the first thing that comes to mind is a super restrictive eating plan with the main goal and purpose being to lose weight and get in shape. And while that is certainly one meaning of the word diet, it’s not the first and true definition of the word.
Webster’s definition is as follows:
So, when I talk about a diet, I am not talking about a weight loss plan, or any super restrictive meal plan. I am talking about the kinds of foods we habitually eat to fuel our bodies.
While dieting (in the super restrictive way we talked about) may help an individual lose weight in a short amount of time, it won’t sustain health and strength in an individual’s body the way that a well balanced and healthy long term diet (lifestyle) will. It’s also highly likely that a person will just gain most, if not all, of the weight back once the “diet” is over.
For those of us that love, I mean LOVE food, this can be upsetting, because it would totally be easier to just eat all the bad stuff and just run extra miles to burn it all off- and that may work for your outward appearance for a period of time, but it isn’t really sustainable. At some point, the damage being done to your body by continually making unhealthy choices will slow down your ability to be physically active. At that point, running extra miles to burn the extra calories will result in frustration when the strength and energy to go the extra miles is not there.
The thing is, the food we eat is what provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamin, and minerals that enable us to grow and function properly- or, if we aren’t eating a healthy and well balanced diet, it doesn’t.
And eventually, without the proper health and nutrition, your body won’t be able to meet the demand of constant workouts at the level of intensity required to make up for the lack of health in your diet.
So, yes, both exercise and diet are important, but what you put in your body is far more important than how you move it.
If you only have the mental capacity to do one thing- choose a healthy diet. It is my opinion (from experience) that choosing to fuel your body and prioritize a healthy diet will ultimately give you the push that you need to then add in a healthy exercise regime.
And then, when you do exercise, your well nourished body will have the stamina to go hard and strong.