Is it Diet and Exercise or Just Diet?

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Reuters published an article titled Curbing Calories Works in the Long Run. What I really wish could be found is a way to curb appetite.

It seems like everyday another study shows that as important as exercise is to overall health, it really has little effect on weight loss. This is something I have believed for years. When I eat less, I lose weight, regardless of level of exercise. When I have been getting a very large amount of exercise, I do not lose weight. To lose weight, you need to cut calories, simple as that. I also tend to get a fair amount of exercise, but that is because of my interests and hobbies, not because it makes it easier to maintain an ideal weight. Exercise makes me feel better, and makes me stronger and more agile. My diet makes me less fat.

I don’t have a big problem with my weight because I am watchful over my diet, trying to control portions and eating healthy food. But, like everyone else, I wish I was not hungry as often as I am because that would make it a lot less difficult to resist the temptations.

As focused as society is on how much a person weighs, I think it is much more important, (up to a certain point), how a person feels about their weight. Being several pounds over what is considered ideal weight is less important than what you are eating. Someone who is at their ideal weight but has a diet high in sugar, fat, highly refined carbohydrates, and animal protein, and low in vegetables and whole grains, is more at risk for health problems than someone 20 pounds overweight, but who eats a healthy diet.

Focus first on what you eat, then move on to how much you eat. Exercise can then come in many forms and does not have to involve the gym, team sports, or long hikes. I read a while ago that the healthiest elderly folks often were life-long gardeners. My garden requires regular maintenance and provides lots of organic vegetables, often picked a few minutes before eating them.

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Will Sig
1 JD Thomas

I’ve noticed the same thing in general terms, but I do notice that if I make a point of doing just a little extra walking when I am trying to lose weight that it helps. Its not dramatic, but it does seem to give my metabolism a bit of a boost. The change in diet and reduction in caloric intake, however, is effective whether or exercise or not.

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2 Bobbie

I have a friend who argues that it’s ALWAYS about what you eat. She is fond of pointing out that “There are no fat prisoners of war.” Kind of stark, but it makes her point.

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3 Will

Welcome Bobbie! Even though I have never dived in any way, shape, or form, I really like your site and will have to explore it further. Are all the photographs yours?

Your friend’s example is an extreme situation, but makes a good illustration of the point. I think exercise can help a bit if you exercise enough, but it is eating less that really works. I get a pretty good level of consistent exercise, playing hockey, hiking and gardening. But I still gain and lose weight solely based on how many calories I eat. I can go a couple of weeks being too busy to play hockey or hike and gain no weight. I can also gain a few pounds even when I am exercising more than normal, if I eat too much!

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4 Will

Yes, Martha, exercise is important for a variety of reasons. In my case, however, it has never made a difference in my weight. The only way I have ever lost a few pounds when I wanted to is to eat significantly less. Very hard to do because of that thing called appetite!

By the way, the girl in the photo on your home page is way too thin! LOL!

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5 Stella

Hello Will, My situation is similar to you, when I eat I loose weight and even if I exercise for more than an hour per day, I hardly loose weight. I have been studying all the health literature and everything related to diet and health in general, and what I have learned is, its our overall health that matters. Moreover, we eat what our body requires, i.e. we normally eat only that much amount of food, which can easily fulfill our energy requirements. So, I personally do not believe in this concept that we can get fat by eating. Of course it true in case of overeating or just eating without consuming the energy. But otherwise our regular diet never adds up to our weight in general.

So, I would say, we should just keep a balance between what we eat and what we burn (in terms of calories). If that balance is maintained, anyone can remain fit without requiring any exercise. Therefore, it is more of “fitness” in general than “diet” or “diet and exercise”..What do you say?

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6 Will

Hi Stella – What I actually meant is that controlling diet seems to work better than exercise to control weight gain. Exercise is important for it’s own reasons, but what and how much I eat always seems to be the factor in my weight. You are lucky, or young, if you can eat all you want and not gain weight. Most of us are not that fortunate! Of course eating healthy food, rather than processed food, snacks, and soda is of utmost importance.

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7 Betty

Few days ago I just talked with one of my fiend. She is telling the same things. Exercise won’t make us loose weight. But if we do enough exercise, our body will be more tight. It means that even with the same weight (between when we do routin exercise and not), we’ll be able to use smaller size clothes if we do routin exercise.

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8 Cardiovascular Activities

I am convinced that cardio is one major way to lose fat. The question is how you do cardiovascular activities. It does not help once a week, it also does not help if you overdo it. The best is to do it regurarly, at least 45 minutes, and running with quite low speed.

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9 hakan

I get a pretty good level of consistent exercise, playing soccer, hiking and gardening. But I still gain and lose weight solely based on how many calories I eat.

I think it is necessary more to loss weight. I have read a few weeks ago that Diet Otels will be construct soon. This is interesting also.

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10 Exercise and fitness

I think both exercise and diet need to be used together

i agree with Cardiovascular Activities and that it definitely the way to go
even just a short brisk walk is enough to burn of those extra pounds

Exercise and fitnesss last blog post..Some tips to avoid injury during Fitness training

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11 Paul Aitchison

I think anybody starting a diet for the first time shouldn’t do any exercise for a week or so. their bodies are still getting used to all the toxins and rubbish leaving their body which can leave them weak. however once into the diet I think it is essential for cardio work to keep fit and strength training to lose the actual fat.

Paul Aitchisons last blog post..Burn Fat 4 Dummies – Boosting your metabolism

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12 Mark

From 17-24 I used to go to fitness 2-3 per week and I had no problems with fat , after that from my age 24-26 I started to eat a half as before, but not regulary and stopped fitness and last year 26-27 I needed to wrote an site about how to lose belly fat to do change my weight back …becase a lot of new belly fat {I take in 20kg} …and how to stay healthy because of my own experiences ..? move daily “sport” + eat regulary ,but not fat food ->better fruit and vegetable and drink natural water and do not sit at work all the time.. take a few minutes to get moved.. Best Regards Mark

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13 Hockey Training

Good article. I like the perspective about how you feel about your weight vs. what others think. Although I think that can still be unhealthy. Being fine with your weight is nice unless youre unhealthaly overweight. Then its no good. I guess its really a mix of both. Good article!

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14 Anonymous

I think diet is more important than exercise. Both are needed but if you don’t watch what you put into your mouth, all the exercise in the world won’t matter.
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15 Mark

A balance is most important, but between the two it would have to be diet. Eating healthy, unprocessed food and not exercising just make sense for a healthy lifestyle more than eating mcdonalds daily and exercising.

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16 Nathan

Like the old saying goes, “an effective training program is 80% nutrition!” It is all a game of calorie balance. Consuming less than you burn daily will result in fat loss. If you don’t get your diet right then no amount of exercise will help you lose that extra fat. Combining the two properly is the real key. It’s important also to chose the right cardiovascular exercises at the right intensity to burn fat.
.-= Toning Abs´s last blog ..The REAL Training Abs Secrets =-.

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17 Heather

I do agree that you have to eat less to lose fat. But I have never lost weight with diet alone. It has always had to be a combo for me of eating less and exercising.
This summer alone I have lost 15.5lbs and I did it by eating mostly fruit and veggies and doing 45min. of cardio type exercise 5x/wk. I also have done weight training 2x/wk to keep my muscle. And the weight has just been falling off.
I met a girl a few months back who has lost 75lbs just by diet. She was beautiful and had a slim, curvy figure. She lives in Dominican and since lunch is their biggest meal of the day she would eat a big plate of rice and beans which would keep her full all day and all evening. She told me she would eat fresh fruit for brekky and snack on grapes at night. My boyfriend is Dominican and we stay with his family for 3 weeks a few times a year. I always drop lbs when I’m there and only exercise (gym exercise) maybe 1-2x/wk. We do walk a lot though. I think by eating a diet high in fresh fruit and veg and whole grains you can be full and still lose weight. It makes it almost effortless.

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18 Will

Another great comment, Heather! I suppose the exercise depends on how much you are getting in the first place. I have always been very active and increasing exercise does not seem to make a big difference. But because I am active, if I reduce my food intake even by a little, I lose weight. The other thing I am convinced of, but not necessarily correct on is that my body has a weight it strives to maintain. That weight is about 10 or 15 pounds over what I think I should weigh. But I have pretty much stopped fighting it. I think if you are talking about 10 or 12 pounds, just concentrate on eating healthy and you will be fine. If you are 20 or 30 or more pounds over your ideal weight, then you will need to address that to stay healthy.

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19 boccaccio

This article is undated so I don’t know when this conversation took place… Maybe in the last century and all the commenters above are long dead… Just kidding but seriously, no dates?

I can’t agree more. I’ve been doing quite intense workouts for 3-4, sometimes 5 times a week for a long time, making them more and more difficult: HIIT, tabatas, weight training, circuit traing, periodization, shmeriodization, etc etc I’ve also been playing hockey so I guess my body has adapted to various exercise patterns I’ve tried over years…. To the point I just can’t work out any harder or I am going to fall apart.

And yes the only time that I lose weight is when I stop eating. And then it gets to extreme and I feel starved and fatigued and I know I am doing everything wrong but just can’t help it.

Oh, and at one time I broke my leg and I didn’t work out at all for a couple months but I also barely ate anything as I stayed in bed for a few weeks I wasn’t hungy at all. Sure enough, I lost a lot of weight. Granted some of that was muscle which is bad but I could tell that I got visibly leaner too!

All those success stories seem to be about super obese people who lose 1000 “easy” pounds since they got off the couch.

But there are lots of very active but slightly overweight people who want to get rid of extra pounds off their waist but they just can’t.

And I totally agree with your last comment: everyone seems to have a “programmed” weight and our bodies try to undo all our futil attempts to change that. And this is especially hard for endomorphs like myself.

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20 Jan

At Weight Watchers the lecturer told us that if you stick to the diet and do no exercise at all you will lose weight. I think it’s pretty much proven now that exercise is more important for weight maintenance than weight loss, plus the health gains of course. Also if you do a lot of exercise, you will be hungry and just increase your intake anyway. But if you have a tendency to put weight on it’s always going to be tough!

I just read about an interesting study on MNN – Mother Nature Network that was done in Greece and they followed a number of slim and overweight people and the slim people who suffered from metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, high blood pressure, low good cholesterol, high bad cholesterol were some of the indications), had a far greater risk of heart disease than the overweight people who did not have metabolic syndrome. So that was a very interesting study.

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21 Will

Yes Jan, you are correct. There is more and more evidence all the time that one of the biggest contributors to all kinds of disease, including cancer, is metabolic syndrome. And one of the biggest contributors to that seems to be fructose. I wonder if it is only the fructose that is mixed with sucrose to make table sugar and also the HFCS? Or is eating a lot of fruit a contributor also?

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22 Genie

I think it’s both; eat the right diets in the right proportions at the right time, and exercise to keep fit and be more healthy. You really cannot have one without the other if you want to maximize great health.

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23 Lyka Ricks

I sincerely agree that elderly folks live longer because of having healthy food intake. Those who are active in farming or gardening live longer than those who are not. It’s more on having a Natural Lifestyle.

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24 Veronica Kline

Well its not just the fact that elderly farm working folks eat better it’s also important to note that these folks are pretty active (exercise of a sort) and that plays a big part in health and longevity. We were never meant to be sedentary creatures.

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25 Will

You are right, Veronica – Here are several things I wrote about just that sort of exercise.

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26 John T.

I think it’s better to diet and exercise. Exercise helps you loose that fat from your body. And make your body lean. I enjoy working out, it’s fun and it can made by body to be healthy

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27 Alexa

YES..human really needs exercise 30 min or above everyday so that the toxic in our body wash away…and surely diet is more important too if we maintain our body healthy and fit…

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