Diet Vs Exercise For Weight Loss

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We’ve all heard about the importance of exercise.

We should all be active, right?


But if you’re interested in weight loss, is it better to focus on diet or exercise?

In this video, I’m going to talk about diet versus exercise for weight loss.

Diet Vs Exercise For Producing A Calorie Deficit

In order to get weight loss, you need to achieve a calorie deficit, and you can achieve that weight loss by either affecting your calories in the food and the beverages that you take in or affecting your calories out daily activity, as well as actual workouts that you do, whether that’s weight, training or cardio activity.

Now both diet and exercise can play an important role in weight loss. But if I had to pick one, there’s really not even any competition.

Let’s look at a specific example.

An average donut is about 250 calories.

So let’s have a quick look at this activity chart:


It gives you the calorie expenditure for different exercises.

Your calorie expenditure varies based on your body weight. So the heavier you are, the more that you actually burn doing that activity. This particular chart is for 30 minute segments.

Diet Vs Exercise – Walking Example

Now let’s take a look at walking for a second. Let’s assume that you were the heaviest in that category. So 185 pounds, but half an hour of walking in a fairly brisk rate is going to burn off approximately 159 calories. And again, if you’re lighter, you’re going to burn off fewer calories than that.

For a 185 pound person, they’re going to burn off about 318 calories for a full hour.

That’s twice what you see in the chart. They’re not much more than a donut.

Now think about this for a little bit. What’s easier, consuming a donut or going for an hour walk?

And you might be one of these people who really enjoys donuts and you might have to, then you’re going to have to walk for even longer just to balance things out.

Achieving Weight Loss

So let’s assume that you’re aiming for weight loss. You’re not aiming for just maintenance. You actually want to decrease.

It would be a lot easier for you to remove that doughnut from your diet than add an hour of walking.

Now, if you’ve ever spent some time with my fitness pal or another calorie counting app, you’ll often be surprised at how high in calories certain trait foods might be. So if you’re one of these people who really loves French fries and you see those serving sizes.

Even a large muffin (if you go to a particular place) can easily be 500 calories. Now it’s probably a lot easier for you to consume one donut than it is to even think about doing an hour long walk.

Diet Vs Exercise Comparison

Now let’s compare just diet or just exercise in order to lose weight.

We often give the example that you have to reduce your calories by about 500 per day for a week. So that’s 3,500 calories per week in order to lose a pound of fat.


Remember that this is only an estimate, but let’s use those numbers to get started.

Through just dieting, you could just reduce what you’re eating by the equivalent of approximately two donuts a day. So I mean, it all depends on what you’re eating already. Maybe you’re having a small muffin and a doughnut. You can reduce each of each day and then you would be losing a pound a week, or it could be fries or chips or whatever your favourite high calorie density treat food is you would reduce your intake of that food.

Calorie Burn Of Weight Lifting

If we, again, assume that we’re 185 pounds, then vigorous weightlifting could burn off about 250 calories per half an hour. So in order to burn off those 500 calories, you would need to do an hour of vigorous weight training every day in order to lose that pound each week.

Now I’m not saying you can’t do it that way. And that actually explains why people who are highly active are able to do this without watching their calories all that much.

Why Calorie Burn With Exercise Is Hard

Here’s the thing. Maybe you’re really busy. You have a life, a family, a career, and you can can’t necessarily do an hour of the gym every day. So it’s very hard for you to keep those calories in check through your physical activity. You would be much better served just to control your nutrition intake in order to reduce your calories.

And there are other ways of modifying your nutrition.

If you increase your protein intake a little bit, that’s going to affect it. If you increase your fiber intake, that again is going to affect how much of the calories that your body absorbs. I go into those sorts of details in other videos.

So hopefully you don’t have to choose between diet or exercise to achieve weight loss. I do think that they work really well together.

Benefits Of Exercise

Exercise obviously makes you feel more energetic and then you’re burning off more calories. It also increases your insulin sensitivity. So there are a lot of significant benefits to exercise.

But if you’re short on time and just overwhelmed by everything that it might take to achieve weight loss, then it’s important to focus on what’s going to get you the best result in the fastest time, rather than stressing out about trying to fit everything in and doing it perfectly.

If you like the sound of that, please hit that thumbs up. If you have any questions about weight loss, please leave a comment. Thanks for watching today.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 6-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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