Let me be brutally honest with you. Exercise is the easy part.
99% of the time when I first start training somebody they’re all for the hardcore exercise and workouts but when it comes to the diet part they start running for the hills. For some reason giving up our favorite foods and bad diet habits make us squirm.
And I’ll tell every one of my clients that if they don’t start following healthy diet habits then all the exercise in the world isn’t going to make them get down to their desired weight. But don’t get me wrong, they will lose some fat with just doing exercise but their results aren’t going to be near what they could be if they ate right.
It’s obvious that I would recommend doing both when it comes to diet vs exercise but I want to dig deeper and see which one is more effective. Is a fat loss diet going to be more successful than an exercise plan for fat loss?
Let’s look at a 12-week weight loss study that compared the amount of weight lost through diet only to the amount of weight lost through an exercise program.
At the end of the 6 weeks the group that only focused on fat loss through diet lost an average of 15 pounds but the group that only did exercise only lost an average of 1 pound…that’s right just 1 pound!
Also those who did the diet only program dropped their bodyfat percentage by an average of 6% while the exercise only group dropped their bodyfat percentage by only 2%.
Seeing these results is evidence enough that in the battle of diet vs exercise, nutrition comes out the clear winner. Doing exercise will get you some results but diet is going to be king of the fat loss castle.
I’ve lately begun showing this research study to my clients who are still resistant to implementing a great diet plan because they just don’t want to give up the foods they love. And I always tell them that they don’t have too.
If you’re able to eat healthy 90% of the time then you can use that last 10% to cheat on your diet plan and eat whatever you like. So if you’re eating around 5 small meals a day (which you should be doing) then that leaves room for 4 cheat meals per week.
I encourage my clients to plan out their cheat meals just like they do for their regular diet foods. Having some light at the end of the tunnel is going to be critical for when the nutrition plan gets tough. Also a great way to fill in those meals that you miss while on your diet is to use some protein powder, see my Progade review for more.
And it’s a great thing to have those cheat meals because of the leptin hormone which cuts off fat loss when the body has had restricted calories for too long. The hormone goes way back to the caveman days when food and nutrition was scarce.
When we couldn’t get enough food to fill our belly then leptin would tell our bodies to slow our metabolisms and stop burning fat because we’re going to need all that we can get.
It’s kinda like money, when you have a lot of it you’re willing to spend it more freely but when you’re broke you’ll hold onto every penny.
So having those strategically placed meals is going to be very important to losing weight. But they’re not like rollover minutes, you can’t add them up and go on an all out binge eating special.
I’m hoping this review on the diet vs exercise debate has inspired you to keep strong with your nutrition and not to neglect exercise. Exercise has been proven to make significant gains in the fat loss process, but you can never out train a bad diet.
P.S. – For a great diet plan (for the holidays too!) that lets you have you cheat meals while also having massive fat loss results… Click here to check it out
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.