Diet Or Exercise – Which One Will Help You Lose Weight Faster?

Diet and exercise, exercise and diet. Those are the two words we hear every day in our battle to lose weight and stay healthy.

I know many people who have started an exercise regimen or diet plan trying hard to get in shape, only to step on the scales a few days later and discover they haven’t shed more than a few ounces.

They look in the mirror, decide they’re a failure, and order a pizza.

So what’s the secret? What should you put your focus on in order to meet your goals? The answer is both simple and complicated…

Listen to what an expert has to say
Donald Hensrud, M.D the preventive medical specialist at the Mayo Clinic states that cutting calories is the more effective way of losing weight. The key is to consume less calories than you burn. 3,500 calories equals approximately 1 pound of fat. Cut 500 calories a day from your diet and you will shed a pound of fat in a week, far more quickly than trying to burn it off by exercising.

Don’t throw away your gym shoes yet, Dr. Hensrud also goes on to say that exercise is important because it helps maintain weight loss. Studies have shown that people who lose weight gradually, with a calorie controlled diet, will be able to maintain their weight better be getting regular exercise. Crash dieting without exercise often results in fast weight gain after the diet is stopped.

Identify the problem and find solutions
If you and your family are overweight, it’s time for a team meeting.  If you’re going to change habits of a lifetime it must be discussed first.  It’s even more important to do this if you and/or your partner have a family history of diabetes. Talk about the effects of diabetes, educate yourself and your family about the risks of being overweight. Point out how being overweight can affect social activities, confidence, and energy.  Then, just like a good salesperson, tell them the benefits of eating healthier. Make a list of consequences of good eating verses bad eating.
Sugar and processed foods are probably two of the biggest roadblocks in the effort to maintain a healthy weight. If you want to get in shape you’ve got to quit sabotaging yourself.

So the next step is to re-educate yourself about what you should be eating. Start in by choosing to add in more of the healthy foods you already eat. Ask yourself and your family “what fruits and vegetables do we like to eat?” (In the answer is none, then ask what they dislike the least)

Cut out as much sugar and processed foods as you possibly can. If you can get your family on board (with your sales pitch at the family meeting), you can clean out your pantry and throw away the junk food that is making you unhealthy. The truth is the human body responds better to unprocessed foods that are low in fat, salt and sugar. It may be difficult but it will pay high returns in better health and greater happiness.

It is easier (and more permanent) if you do it gradually. If the family gathers around the TV to watch Sunday football with chips, sodas and greasy hamburgers, start by substituting leaner hamburgers, or substituting soda sweetened with stevia. Gradually work your way toward whole grain hamburger buns, chips that aren’t fried and adding a veggie tray to the whole spread.

Also, expect some slip-ups. Don’t be upset if sometimes you give into temptation to eat things that aren’t healthy. Realize that the real mistake would be to give up and go back to your old unhealthy eating habits. Just try to do a little better overall than you have the year before.

“Consistency is important.  If you can only fit in ten minutes, do ten minutes. Just be sure to move a little bit every day.”

A final key to a healthy diet is portion size. Even though unprocessed foods tend to be lower calorie, they do still have calories. American portion sizes are notoriously large. You will need to re-educate yourself about what a real serving size is. It is an excellent idea to buy a food scale and measure out your food at least until you get a good feel of how many calories are in the portions you are eating.

But what about exercise?
Getting regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It keeps your metabolism going as you seek to cut out the calories from your diet. It may be quicker to cut calories to lose weight, but if you are continually cutting calories without keeping your metabolism ramped up the calories you do eat will stick around longer.A regular cardio workout helps to strengthen heart muscles, reduces the risk of heart attack, increase lung capacity, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and can help control diabetes. Another surprising result will be that you will sleep better.

Some other important benefits of exercise is that it will help you stay on your diet by reducing stress that might cause you to eat things you shouldn’t, it acts as a reminder of the connection between what you eat and how you feel, the increase of oxygenated blood to the brain helps you think more clearly, and exercise releases endorphins.

Consistency is important.  If you can only fit in ten minutes, do ten minutes. Just be sure to move a little bit every day.

What does this all mean?
This means that if you want to lose weight it is quicker to cut calories, but if you want to maintain your new healthy weight you need to exercise. This is why we hear over and over diet and exercise, diet and exercise. They are both necessary for being healthy.

What you need to focus on is making small changes every day that you can maintain. Start somewhere, enjoy the results of your efforts and move forward into more changes that will lead you to a new, healthy life!



  1. Ok mine is brief and real food.workout as much as you want.but never ever start that ” dont imagine eating that” or AKA d.I.e.t! If you start dieting you put the foundation to an eating disorder and better start digging your real food people…howmany people in this world have no food to eat Nd walk miles a day to find something to eat.are they on a diet?dont be stupid.
    My point is eat what ever you must know the limit.cut the portion control till you feel ful.and go out drink eat chocolate and celery and what ever you want. Because you deserve it. The key is may not lose weight but you will be stronger,faster and live longer.wish you the best.

  2. Gabrielle Day says:

    I believe starting slow is the best way, that’s where I am and I am slowing making progress. I hope to make my goal by the end of the year! Wish me luck!

    • Dhruv Bhagat says:

      Lemme share my weight loss journey from a big fat ass to a healthy slim guy..

      Well, there are so many things that led to weight loss. But, one should not lose hope while trying to lose some extra weight..

      If you lack in motivation, you won’t be able to achieve your target goal weight..

      I went to gym and did 40 minutes of aerobics and 40 minutes of weight training twice a day..

      I stopped eating fried food, sweets, soft drinks and such other food..

      If you follow these tips, you will surely be able to transform yourself in a very less time :)

  3. Nutrition is more important but exercise is important too. Even if it means sticking to a perfect eating plan and taking a half hour quick walk everyday. No need to work out vigorously at the gym unless you want to. You will still be fine without it.

  4. Remember that the two go hand in hand. If you maintain your diet but increase your exercise, you’ll lose weight faster. I say that’s the best route, but this is a great article!

  5. Katie Morrison says:

    It honestly takes a lifestyle adjustment. If you eat healthy foods, drink tons of water 9and cut out sugary drinks or tons of fattening creams and milk) and if you exercise daily, you will be in really good shape.

  6. Jason Babich says:

    It takes a lot of willpower to go through with a diet. Changing your way of eating and shopping is a lifestyle change, but it’s worth it. Happy body, happy mind.

  7. I was actually able to lose a lot of weight counting calories and it involved very little exercise. You have to be really disciplined though and it takes a lot of mental arithmetic when you’re away from a computer (how many calories can I eat? etc). But it worked and I lost about 40lbs in 6 months.

  8. At the end of the day you gotta do both if you want to stay fit and healthy. I was a very fit person through my teenage years and 20’s, but I stopped working out and eating too much after starting my own business and right now in my 30’s I weigh the most I ever weighed in my life. You can cut all the calories in the world but if you don’t exercise you’ll lose muscle mass and you’ll start gaining weight easily even if you don’t overeat. You can also exercise 5 hours a day, but if you don’t watch what you eat it isn’t going to do much good in the end. Like or not, you gotta do both.

  9. Well from what I understand there is not very much exercising going on among the Weight Watchers crown and they seem to lose the fat easily. You have a great article here and I would hope that everyone will use common sense in this and realize they have to watch what they eat as well. Thank you for reiterating that for me to my class.

  10. This is all commons sense approach to eating and exercising. There are certainly many exercise programs on DVD. You see the TV commercials all the time. You see the Tap out workout DVD series, P90X, even Zumba. And if you don’t want to spend money on a workout DVD, there are websites that teach you haw to workout efficiently and properly.

  11. BOTH, I have tried one without the other and it never worked for me, It took a combined effort it seemed to help me lose the fat. Of course I gained initially with the exercise but looked much better and felt really good about it.

  12. Well obviously a diet is going to help you lose more than exercise by itself but exercise with a diet is going to do you twice as much good. Thank you for posting this, and ladies remember they are touched up photos and photo shopped photos in those magazines making you feel guilty, I was even wondering if the girl on this post is as well.

  13. That last point by Maurice is very funny. To answer his other question: my suggestion is that if you want to speed up the fat loss, eat according to these healthy principles and workout 5 times a week. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend lots of time nor money for a gym membership. You need only 12 minutes a day working out from home.

  14. I find one particular point that this article mentions to be absolutely true. I am talking about that point about exercise which basically says, if you have only 10 minutes, then use that time to burn calories. I decided to cut my workout time from one hour on average to 12 minutes per workout. I increased the intensity based on the workouts that you find on sites like bodyrock and idealbite. And it Works!

  15. Thanks for the tips! I’ve always noticed that I do best when I put in cardio exercises like running into the mix with my diet. I agree with some of the other posters that weight lifting can actually add pounds since muscle is heavier than fat.

  16. Obviously if you aren’t eating as much you are going to lose weight faster, but from what I understand if you are working out at the same time you could be developing muscle at the same time so your scale is not going to reflect as much weight loss as you would think. You did a great job on your post and it was very informative.

  17. It makes sense that you would lose weight faster if all you did was watch what you eat. You have to watch not only what it is but how much, most people over eat without even realizing they are doing it. Exercise can speed the process as far as shrinking but it might not effect the scale as much. Thank you for posting this you have great advice.

  18. Losing fat is definitely faster if you watch what you eat and you can lose weight by dieting alone but if you add exercise to the factor then you are going to lose it faster. You have done a good job on this post and I always look forward to reading your posts because I learn so much from them. You have always done a great job on all of your posts.

  19. I understand the concept of doing this slowly because it will stick if you do but I want to see results quickly. Is there a way to do both? Take one thing and changing it before you change your whole diet is a great idea because it will be easier to stick to the diet. And can I ask why you used a skinny as a rail person on a weight loss article?

  20. Some say that diet and exercise are both equal parts of the equation, while others say that nutrition is more than half the battle. I know one thing is for certain: they are both important and if you are disciplined about both aspects, you will reach your fitness goals a lot sooner than you think.

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