Diet vs exercise for weight loss: How your eating plan is more important than working out


What should you prioritise — diet or exercise? That seems to be the eternal question that haunts many wanting to knock off their extra kilos. Well, some health researchers seem to have found the answer. A recent study suggests that diet is far more important than physical activity. Read on to know more…


CNN reported that the reason behind this is exercising increases the appetite, especially with prolonged endurance exercises or weight lifting, that can ultimately sabotage the best of intentions to lose weight. About 10 per cent of our calories are burned digesting the food we eat and roughly 10 per cent to 30 per cent are lost through physical  activity, the study said. “It could not be more true. What you omit from your diet is so much more important than how much you exercise,” says nutritionist Lisa Drayer.

According to Drayer, all of your “calories in” come from the food you eat and the beverages you drink, but only a portion of your “calories out” are lost through exercise. Alexxai Kravitz, Investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US, says that the average person — excluding professional athletes — burns five per cent to 15 per cent of their daily calories through exercise. It is not nearly equal to food intake, which accounts for 100 per cent of the energy intake of the body, said Kravitz.


Diet is more important than exercise to lose weight, agrees Shalini Bhargava, director — JG’s Fitness Centre. There has to be a calorie deficit in order to shed the pounds, which is easier to obtain by restricting the number of calories consumed. Most of us consume more calories than required by our bodies. “An hour of exercise will burn calories, give an after burn, keep the metabolism high so that you continue burning calories post-exercise sessions too. However, there is an upper limit to that unless you go berserk and start exerting like a maniac, which may result in injuries. It is much easier to cut calories than to burn calories,” she reasons.


Many articles online peg diet at 70 per cent and exercise at 30 per cent efforts when it comes to losing weight. Shalini believes this is a good ratio, but adds that depending on the person, gender, age, medical conditions, it can be altered to 80/20 also. Leena Mogre, director, Leena Mogre’s Fitness, says, “This 70/30 rule of diet vs exercise is not modern day science. It’s been there for years, something which I’ve been telling my clients for three decades.”


Leena agrees that diet is more important when it comes to losing weight, however, she points out that if one doesn’t work out, there will be a loss of lean muscle tissue, which increase Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). One will lose weight for the time being, but in the long run, this eventually will result in fat percentage going up. If you only rely on dieting for weight loss, you won’t get a toned, fit look for which exercise comes into play. The 30 per cent of exercise is equal to 70 per cent of dieting because it takes a lot of effort to work out.


“The 70/30 rule is a traditional approach, whereas the new approach would be 60 per cent, diet 20 per cent exercise and 20 per cent commitment to fitness and health,” opines nutritionist, Karishma Chawla. Eating habits, exercise, stress management, spiritual health, career, relationships, sunshine and a positive self image make up the circle of fitness and missing out on any of these would hamper growth. “Good health is not a destination but rather a journey which is accomplished with utmost commitment and consistency to grow adequately,” she adds. Some people are under the impression that walking can suffice for cutting down the flab. Leena busts this myth, saying, “Walking alone isn’t enough if one wants to lose weight. A combination of cardio, weight training and de-stressing int he form of yoga, meditation, Power Yoga is required.”