Trying to lose weight can be difficult, and while we all know a good combination of exercise and diet is essential, which one is more important? If you had to choose, should you be hitting the gym, or eating salads? There are many ways you can burn a few hundred calories; running for 20 minutes, an hour of surfing, or singing your favorite song 23 times – in fact we have a whole video dedicated to weird ways of burning calories.
But the point is, it takes time to burn a significant amount of calories even with strenuous activity – not to mention the extra barrier of traveling to the gym, and then coming home to clean up. Now, compare this to the number of calories in, say, a chocolate bar – which is often over 200 Calories. You could either walk for about an hour to burn that 200 calories or you could simply not eat that chocolate bar. Which sounds easier to you?
How about running for 30 minutes every day or cutting out those two cans of soda? Many physicians point out that there is a lot of high-sugar, high-fat, high calorie foods we could cut from our diet, to see weight loss results more quickly. And studies tend to show that diet does indeed play a bigger role in weight loss than exercise. A 2011 meta-analysis of children found that their level of physical activity was not the main determining factor of their weight.
And a study of 3000 adults found that minimizing calories was linked to greater weight loss maintenance than exercise alone. Furthermore, studies comparing industrialized and developing countries show that the rate of physical activity is fairly similar between the two, making activity and exercise an unlikely culprit for obesity rates in the industrial world. Of course, a combination of diet and exercise would yield the best results long term.
And exercise has many health benefits beyond weight loss, like slowing the aging process and improving mental health. But at the end of the day, if you’re looking to lose weight, you’re likely to get more bangs for your buck if you focus on your diet first.