Is it better to exercise or diet to lose weight?
This is a hugely important question that will determine how you approach weight loss. Will you spend an hour on the treadmill before work, or will you cut back on portion sizes?
First off, there's a huge misconception that you NEED to exercise to start losing weight. That's totally incorrect.
Formal exercise is actually the least important of the 5 key steps to lose weight.
There are 4 foundational steps you need in place to lose weight BEFORE starting a structured workout routine.
Read our foundational article ‘Weight Loss For Men Over 40' to discover the 5 key weight loss steps you need to follow.
Fact #1: To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn.
Fact #2: It's easier to NOT EAT 500 calories than to burn it.
I'll prove this to you with these 11 comparisons images below. These images will help you easily answer: is it better to exercise or diet to lose weight? Enjoy these images (especially #10)!
Here's 11 comparisons of what burning 500 calories vs eating 500 calories looks like…
#1: Jogging (for 55 min) -vs- 1 bagel w/ cream cheese
Would you rather run for 1 hour or eat a bagel? I'll skip the run.
#2: 1000 situps -vs- 5 tablespoons peanut butter
That's 200 damn sit-ups PER tablespoon of peanut butter.
#3: Elliptical trainer (52 min) -vs- 1.25 cups of granola
Is 1.25 cups of sugary granola worth 52 min on the elliptical?
#4: Shoveling Snow (52 min) -vs- 2/3 cups mixed nuts
Sometimes you have to shovel the snow. That's life. And nuts are actually healthy – in the right amount. Limit to 1 serving (1/4 cup or a small handful each time you eat 'em).
#5: Jumping rope (45 min) -vs- 40 oz Soda or Fruit Juice
Skipping rope is a fantastic exercise. I love it personally. HOWEVER, is it really worth drinking 500 liquid calories from this sugary soda? Also remember: fruit juice is nearly as bad.
#6: Swimming laps (47 min) -vs- 1 McDonald's Big Mac
Michael Phelps can get away with eating a Big Mac. For the purposes of weight loss, you and I should probably skip it.
#7: Aerobics class (55 min) -vs- 38 tortilla chips
As much “fun” as this aerobics class looks, I think we should limit the chips and keep the neon headbands in our closets.
#8: Punching bag (45 min) -vs- 1 medium blueberry muffin
Your boxing partner will probably look nothing like this gal. I promise the muffin at Starbucks will look worse too.
#9: Running stairs (43 min) -vs- waffle w/ 1.5 tbsp syrup
Again, running stairs is an awesome workout. It harkens back to the football glory days. Yet, it takes a lot of stairs to burn off the carbs from this waffle.
#10: Lying completely still (6 hours) -vs- 1/2 stick butter
So, what if we just didn't move at all for 6 hours? That'd be equivalent to 1/2 stick butter. If you study cooking recipes, you'll be shocked how much butter sneaks into cooking.
#11: Lifting Weights (55 min) -vs- 1 Fruit Smoothie
Last but not least, perhaps the most effective exercise form of all: LIFTING. Yet, even an hour of pumping iron can't offset one of those damn sugary Jamba Juice/Naked smoothies. Fruit smoothies are total scams for weight loss. Know that.
The Question: Is it better to exercise or diet to lose weight?
The TRUTH: Exercise is important. BUT….It's absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to “out-exercise” a bad diet. Calories stack up too quickly from even the smallest foods.
I hope this helps put things “in perspective.”
Your new friend & weight loss coach,
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
Founder, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “Mr. Results”
Bragging Rights: Has helped over 35,000 fathers lose fat, build muscle, & get healthy for their families
P.S. If you're not already getting my private email training series, sign up for the newsletter here. You'll get more NO BS weight loss articles just like this sent to your inbox each week.