Exercise Vs. Diet To Lose Weight?

Andrew Siegel, M.D.   Blog # 97

An article in the International Journal of Obesity (Katz DL: Unfattening our children: forks over feet: Int J Obesity 2011; 35: 33-37) concluded that when it comes to weight loss, diet plays a more important role than exercise.

To quote Dr. Katz’s conclusion:  “Feet and forks are master levers of medical destiny. Diet and physical activity patterns exert powerful influences on weight and health. There can be no choosing between them when it comes to overall health: physical activity is the vital, conditioning work of the human machine, diet is its fuel. But forced to choose a side of the energy balance equation to favor in weight control, it is forks over feet for fundamental reasons of modern living. One may readily out-eat even somewhat extraordinary levels of physical activity, but most will find it very difficult to out-exercise even fairly ordinary levels of dietary intake.”

If you would like to read the full article, which is quite worthwhile:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v35/n1/full/ijo2010218a.html

Dr. Katz’s article confirmed what I reported in Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food.  The following is a verbatim excerpt from pages 117-118 from the chapter entitled “Raw Facts and Truths”:

As important as exercise is, calorie restriction is the most efficient means of achieving weight loss: exercising restraint over eating trumps exercising our bodies in terms of weight loss.

This is not to denigrate exercise in any way, as getting moving andactive is a fundamental part of any weight loss regimen. Exercise is incredibly important to our health, fitness and well being and can aid the process of weight loss. There are a host of compelling reasons to exercise, including the following: augmented caloric expenditure; aerobic and cardiovascular fitness; improved strength, physical conditioning and self-image; and a productive means of dealing with many of the emotions that drive eating. Ironically, though, burning calories via exercise will leave many of us with a vigorous appetite that can be potentially detrimental to a weight loss program. As important as exercise is, it is not very efficient in terms of weight loss. It takes a great deal of effort to burn a lot of calories and the resultant increased hunger can often negate the effort. For example, I can run for 30 minutes at a good clip and burn 300 calories. By the same token, I could consume 300 calories in two minutes by eating a few cookies. When it comes down to degrees of ease, it is a lot easier to take calories in by eating than it is to expend calories by exercising. Therefore, as important as exercise is, with respect to weight loss, a reduction in caloric intake is of paramount importance and is more efficient than exercise.

Bottom Line:  If you want to drop the pounds, drop the fork…and the most efficient exercise with respect to weight loss is to exercise restraint in terms of eating!  It is simply very difficult to “out-exercise” dietary intake.  Another perspective is that eating less will help you to look better clothed, but exercise will help you look better naked.  In terms of overall health, there is no substitute for the synergy of healthy eating and exercise.  If you commit to one, you will have a better chance of staying on track for the other.

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

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3 Responses to “Exercise Vs. Diet To Lose Weight?”

  1. Stokvis Jack Says:

    Unfortunately the link to the original article is “restricted” to subscription holders and does not work.

    Dr. Siegel’s blog however is very informative and thoughtful. Thank,s

  2. Boot Camp Gold Coast Says:

    Obviously both of these elements are critical for losing weight (and keeping it off) but personally… I don’t think either are the most important.

    For me mindset is by far the most important tool for losing weight.

    A good strong mindset is the thing that will bring exercise and diet together, it will give you the focus and belief to become what you’re capable of.

    • promiscuouseating Says:

      You are ABSOLUTELY correct, with the right mindset, healthy eating and exercise will naturally follow…and the mindset is the “glue” that keeps it all together. Well said.

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