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GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
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Diet or Exercise for Maintaining Weight Loss? Science Weighs In

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Weight loss is a tricky endeavor. Everyone has a unique body and genetics, as well as conditioning as far as diet and exercise practices, and how their bodies respond. Age also plays a role as hormones, and metabolism change over time. So how can we better understand how weight loss is best managed?

“Diet and exercise” have been at the forefront of approaching weight loss for quite some time, with the details on how to effectively do each changing with the succession of each new trendy diet. If we had to choose, which should we pour more effort into for maximum results? Is it one more than the other? A combination? Science might have the answer.

The Science Concerning Exercise On Weight Loss

In the examination of the importance of exercise for weight loss, working out is essential for building muscle and losing fat. Though, differences between each person might require various approaches to this. A combination of strength training and aerobic exercise is usually recommended. They both assist with weight loss in different ways.

The key to remember with building muscle is that a loss in fat will not always equate to a loss in weight, as muscle weighs more than fat. So, in cases where a lot of strength training is implemented, weight gain or stagnancy may occur. This is why measuring the fat percentage is important.

Building muscle mass through strength training can aid with burning fat as more muscle tissue means more calories are burned at rest. What this means is that even when you’re inactive, your body will continue to burn calories. In addition, exercising aerobically through forms of cardio can help to speed metabolism. Your metabolism is the way that your body is essentially programmed to process food. This is critical to consider for weight loss. The operative word being food.

Why an Optimal Diet is Imperative to Weight Loss

While training your body to burn calories with exercise is indeed a significant component of losing weight, part of the training must be done on the inside. Despite efforts to exercise, the way you are fueling your body to do so, matters.

For example, how you choose to fuel your body the day of a workout, your body may be working to burn excess caloric intake on the day as opposed to fat. Diet also relates to building muscles, as muscles must be fueled properly to grow and strengthen. The effectiveness of working out is affected by what is being put into the body.

Diet vs. Exercise According to Science

One study demonstrated the importance of combining both diet and exercise. It noted that exercise alone can help to improve aspects of health like decreasing risk for cardiovascular disease, lowering insulin resistance, and loss of visceral fat. Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and can affect major organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines.

When comparing the effects from exercise to that of participants that underwent dietary restriction varied, those who participated in dietary restriction lost a higher percentage of body fat than those who exercised. Another study that investigates the comparison between the two suggests similarly—that although one may benefit from exercise, dietary practices might have a moderate superiority.

The Connection

However, it’s necessary to consider how diet and exercise affect one another and may optimize results when combined.

Nutritional biochemist Shawn M. Talbott put the concept quite simply. He explained to the Huffington Post that “It is much easier to cut calories than to burn them off.” He recommends that weight loss is 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.

This comes back to the connection between the two. To effectively lose fat, one must be in a caloric deficit. Meaning, we buen more calories than we use. How twe do this varies, which is what causes the confusion about the effectiveness of methods.

A Note from GR8NESS

If your goal is to lose weight, it might be best to consider that between diet and exercise, a diet might be more of a substantial determinant. However, the two in combination work together to help your body to speed metabolism and lose fat. Consult with a physician or dietitian to learn about best practices for your diet.

Keep in mind that science suggests that there is no one diet strategy individuals should refer to. Rather, that our digestive tracts tend to be different from one another, and therefore we may benefit from keeping our food diverse.

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Amanda
GR8NESS Writer
Amanda is a GR8NESS contributing writer who lives in celebration of self care, and endeavors to approach all things with a student mentality. Her love for the study of self-development is rooted in fitness, holistic wellness, and skin care. She is an advocate for mental health; and hopes to connect others to their own way of daring to care.
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