Everyone has an opinion as to whether diet or exercise works best when trying to lose weight. Which method will provide the best weight loss results, and more importantly, which will help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes and cancer?
Both diet and exercise are important when considering a weight loss plan, and each regimen has important benefits when considering the war on obesity. More than 45 million Americans belong to a health club and yet obesity continues to rise at an alarming rate. How do you determine the best strategy to drop those excess pounds without disrupting your daily routine?
Changing the quantity and type of food eaten is the single most important way to promote weight loss and improve overall health. To lose one pound of body fat, it’s necessary to burn an extra 3500 calories, either through physical exertion or reduction in calories eaten.
This can be done by jogging for a total of 7 hours over the course of a week or through substituting 3 sugary soft drinks each day with a no calorie alternative. The net effect will be the same, and most people find the dietary modification route much easier to tolerate. Diet trumps exercise as the quickest route to sustainable weight loss.
It’s important to look beyond weight loss, and consider the health implications of a reduced calorie diet. The food you eat has a direct impact on your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia. The nutrients in the foods we eat have either a positive or negative impact on our genes. Studies demonstrate that our genome is altered ever so slightly every time we eat, depending on our food choices at that meal.
Researchers have been able to map the negative genetic changes which we incur from a single meal of fried foods, refined carbohydrates and sweets. Our genes are dynamic and continually changing the risk factors which lead to serious disease. Proper diet is the most important factor in any healthy weight loss plan.
While diet may be the most efficient route to permanent weight loss, exercise is a necessary component to ignite your fat burning machine. Combined with a low calorie menu, exercise compliments diet to provide muscle tone, endurance and a positive mood.
Over 70 studies confirm the mood lifting effect of both cardio and resistance exercise performed for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week. Regular exercise is also important for reduction of heart disease risk as it builds the heart muscle, as well as prevention of diabetes due to improved regulation of insulin metabolism by the muscles.
A diet which emphasizes substitution of high calorie, unhealthy foods with low calorie, nutrient dense vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts and seeds will alter the body’s metabolism and result in slow, sustainable weight loss. When compared to exercise, most people will find a dietary restriction plan easier to follow because small changes in food choice lead to quicker weight loss.
The importance of both diet and exercise on overall health cannot be minimized, as both are clear winners in disease risk reduction, but the blue ribbon is awarded to healthy diet and calorie restriction in the weight loss battle.