By now you have probably heard that you have to exercise more to effectively lose weight. Well, while regular exercise certainly helps to keep you healthy and reduces your chronic disease risks, eating fewer calories may actually be the more effective weight-loss strategy.
Is Exercise Only Effective?
According to a review published in 2014 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, if you simply add exercise to your daily regimen but don’t watch what you eat, your chance of losing weight is low. Authors of this review do point out that exercise plus diet is most effective in the long term for weight loss – not to mention body recomposition – but exercise alone is much less effective than diet plus exercise or even dieting without exercise.
Why is Dieting More Effective?
While exercising can indeed help you burn extra calories throughout the day, some people offset these extra calories burned by eating more because exercise can boost your appetite. Furthermore, exercising can lead to increased muscle mass — and muscle weighs more than fat.
What about Body Fat?
While dieting without exercise can help you shed pounds and burn body fat, exercise is actually the key component in fat loss. A study published in 2013 in Obesity reports that while dieting without exercise often results in more weight loss (in numbers on the scale), exercising without dieting leads to a greater percentage of body fat – a phenomenon known as “skinny fat”. Therefore, it you want to tone up, adding exercise to your weight loss regimen is more than a great idea – including both cardiovascular and resistance training.
Ideal Weight Loss Combination
If you have to choose diet or exercise, dieting by reducing calories appears to be the most effective weight-loss strategy and a great starting point for those who are overweight or obese. However, diet plus exercise combinations are just as effective as diet alone, especially long term, according to the review published in 2014 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Furthermore, exercise does help accelerate fat loss. The American Council on Exercise recommends combining diet — by reducing daily food portions by about 10 to 15 percent — and exercising daily.