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Diet vs Exercise - Which is more important and why?



  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,846 Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    Diet for health. Exercise for fitness. One can be fit and unhealthy.
    The same goes for being at a normal weight and unfit.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 7,080 Member
    ninerbuff wrote: »
    You can't outrun a bad diet.
    Definition of a "bad" diet is subjective. I relish in junk food weekly and have been maintaining. For many a "bad" diet means no junk food.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition


    Sounds more like the diet from hell.

  • Sara3veg
    Sara3veg Posts: 48 Member
    edited June 2021
    For myself personally I found out that being more active has been more important for maintenance, than during my weight loss phase. First time through I lost a big chunk of weight with no extra exercise at all, (improved my health markers/corrected a health issue with just the weight loss). Started walking after I started transitioning into maintenance and its been very helpful to keep my mindset where it needs to be. Now I'm working on some 'pandemic weight creep' and I'm trying to make regular walks a thing again, (something I got away from over the past year). Being more active is part of my weight management plan-which I've now learned is something I actually have to keep doing to keep my weight in my maintenance range, go figure :p

    In hindsight I should have added the walking back when I was doing my initial weight-loss phase, to cement the habit. Live and learn.

    eta: OP, I just took a peek at your profile and wow, we've pretty much done the same thing lol :) I've experimented with just about every way of eating during my years of maintenance. From WFPB to a two years experiment with very low carb/carnivore (I was featured on Shawn Bakers website haha). Now I'm just working on finding a balance with all of it.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
    If exercise was a pill, it would be the most widely used medicine in history.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member
    I don't think that people here are actually resistant to exercise. I think people stress that it is not necessary for initial weightloss, for a very good reason:

    When you are very out of shape and obese, the work involved in exercise can seem very, very literally painful. If you add in a lot of negative associations many people have to being overweight and in school gym classes, associations can make for another kind of pain.

    I have always been active. I play freaking sports.

    But anyone trying to push an increase in formal structured exercise on me would be met with a heck of a lot of resistance. Anyone suggesting an overall change in my lifestyle as well as my diet would have made me rage quit, the same way 'no more chocolate or you won't lose weight' would.

    And again: I was starting as someone participating in a couple of organized sports and a lot of general walking and hiking.

    I still do those things. I do more other activity on top since my weight made things more achievable and I just plain felt better and more able to. But the weightloss and dietary changes had to come before I could increase my movement, and that would have been MORE true if I was sedentary beforehand.

    Heck, even today if you told me to 'exercise' my first thought would be something painful, boring, and difficult. Not... going out to hike 10 miles on the hard trail or trail running 5K with my dog. Because I have a very, very hardwired in negative association to structured exercise I cannot quite break, at least yet.
  • azuki
    azuki Posts: 38 Member
  • J72FIT
    J72FIT Posts: 5,937 Member
    Once again, (better for what?) because I think the point gets lost after a while...
  • jmf552
    jmf552 Posts: 46 Member
    I haven't read this whole thread, so I hope this has not already been covered. The way I look at it, just looking at calories for this food or that exercise is simplistic. A calorie is just a measure. I think you have to look at it as a dynamic balance.

    If you eat X amount and do Y amount of activity and that keeps you at Z weight, that is the balance of calories in, calories out, you are at. You change that balance by lowering X, increasing Y or both. So if you start exercising as a weight loss strategy and you don't eat more, you should lose. The advantage of exercise over dieting is that it increases your metabolism, whereas lowering calorie intake can decrease it. I also find that just decreasing my food intake alone depresses me somewhat, whereas exercise does the opposite.

    Of course the best thing is to do both. But I can't imagine ME losing weight without exercise.

  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    I'm not a fan of traditional exercise and the horror of going in a gym is too much for me to bear!
    But I enjoy outside activities such as hiking and cycling.
    The benifits from a hike/ bike ride for me definitely trump the calories I burn from it.
    Burning calories is just a bonus.
    There's no way I would go in a gym so I could eat pizza - I'd rather go without- or just eat the pizza and not worry about it 😂
  • KL1887
    KL1887 Posts: 99 Member
    I’m medically exempt from exercising, if anything most of my doctors/specialists advise against it. So for me diet is definitely more important.
  • In terms if weight loss, I read an article from The Mayo Clinic that said as a general guideline 10,000 steps maintains weight, 15,000 steps (I am a walker) helps weight loss while dieting. With that said, in terms of health (along with diet) I consider exercise as the universal drug that helps your every part of our body. As you age it is important to use your muscles to prevent atrophy, I learned a great lesson when I broke my arm, both my doctor and PT said cardio exercise was important because it increased blood flow to the injured bones which accelerates healing. Since my arm was immobilized for 6 weeks, the amount my muscles atrophied was incredible. So I walked, even in my brace, which I believe was a major contributor to my success at gaining full movement of my arm. I also learned from them that blood flow decreases to your bones as you age and cardio becomes even more important for healthy bones. And we all know the benefits to our heart

    Also, my husband has Parkinson's and his neurologist told us that studies have shown that daily exercise decreases the progression of the disease by 30% even without medication. As I learn more about Parkinson's and the role dopamine plays in the proper functioning of our bodies, I stay away from any diet that messes with the normal production, as low dopamine levels can affect every part of our body functions. At least I would check with your doctor prior to starting such a diet.

    So I put diet vs exercise as equal in importance.
  • JMC3Terp
    JMC3Terp Posts: 2,774 Member
    Personally I think exercise is very underrated in the "diet community" and places like MFP. That said, as someone who values exercise greatly, diet is a bit more important.

    This comes from someone who basically eats at maintenance and uses and relies on exercise to put me in a deficit for weight loss. That said, I do firmly believe I could diet, not exercise - and lose weight. However, I would have a much harder time if i exercised but never watched what I ate. So if we have to pick one - diet. But both are nearly as important.

    I will say for me though that while I think diet is slightly more essential, my whole process RELIES on exercise. I find that when I exercise, I am more accountable in my diet as well. It's like when your parents told you that you had no concept of money and what it takes to make money before your first job. Knowing how hard it is to "burn calories" makes me appreciate my caloric intake more and not over do it.

    So again, both are important but diet is slightly more essential. But do both and prosper 😎
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,301 Member
    From all of the reading I've done and my own experiences, exercise seems to be more beneficial in regards to overall health and well being (obesity aside) than what my diet consists of. I tend to put a premium on good nutrition, namely because I feel better and it seems to better compliment fitness performance...but I've also gone through times where my nutrition wasn't the best or even close to the best but weight and health markers were stable with regular exercise.

    In general they tend to go hand in hand for me.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member
    So, I last posted in June (and 25lbs heavier) and I feel the need to come back and say:

    For losing weight diet was where it was at. And having a calorie budget meant that I focused extra hard so that budget kept me healthy and feeling good and not starved.

    I really do have to admit though that now that I'm not just a healthy weight but toward the lower half of the range and maintaining, on a daily basis exercise (and for me that's just fun activity I enjoy) is more important to my daily life/quality of life/enjoyment of life and functional regular old health. It's a big chunk of what I LIKE doing, and in me feeling good. The activity also gives me more 'room' to eat and maintain, but that's pretty secondary.

    I could not be at this place without having lost the 70ish lbs first, though -- and that was through diet.