Diet vs Exercise: What is Most Important for Weight Loss

› Diet vs Exercise

Hi Beth,

I’m hoping you can help.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for ages. I’m exercising a lot, but it just doesn’t seem to help.

What can I do?

I’ve tried all sorts. Weight training, cardio, HIIT, classes and walking. I haven’t got the time to do any more.



Hi Millie,

It’s lovely to hear from you.

I hear this question all of the time. It’s actually one of the top reasons clients first come to see me.

First off, well done for making healthy changes AND sticking to them.

It’s easy to put off exercising, especially when you aren’t seeing the results you want. But you’ve stuck to it. That is serious credit to you.

The benefits of exercising go far beyond losing weight, so it’s really important to keep going.

Having said that, your goal is to lose weight, so let’s see what we can do to help.

Diet vs Exercise: What do you need for weight loss?

Diet vs Exercise: route to weight loss

Let’s go back to basics.

What do you need for weight loss to happen?

You need a calorie deficit. To use more calories than you consume.

That comes from moving a little more and eating a little less. Your body then turns to its fat stores for the energy deficit.

It sounds like you’ve got the moving thing down. But you didn’t mention anything about what you’re eating. What does your diet look like?

Now this maybe because everything is spot on there. But, in my experience, when clients don’t mention their diet it’s because they aren’t paying much attention to it.

Almost thinking that if you do enough exercise you can eat whatever you want.

Does this sound like you?

If it does, I’m sorry to say that unless you pay more attention to what you’re eating you’re not going to get closer to that weight loss goal.

Let me explain why…

Calories In - Calories Used = Weight Loss/Weight Gain

Diet vs exercise: why you can’t just exercise?

There is a common saying ‘You can’t out train a bad diet’.

That means it doesn’t matter how much exercise you do, if you still eat crap you won’t lose weight. And, you may even put weight on.


It’s all to do with maths and that pesky old equation calories in – calories burned = weight loss/weight gain.

Let’s say you run for an hour. You burn about 500 calories.

Not too shabby.

But, if you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating it’s very easy to overeat by that many calories. An extra two tablespoons of oil and a chocolate bar, that’s 500 calories.

Now, it isn’t quite as simple as that.

Exercising regularly will generally boost your metabolism, meaning you’ll burn more calories while you’re resting. But as you get fitter your body doesn’t work as hard to do that hour run so you’ll burn less calories.

So, if you’re not conscientious about what you’re eating, not paying it much attention, you can quite easily still be overeating.

Diet vs Exercise: Health benefits of food

It’s also important not to ignore the fat burning and health benefits of good food.

Your body needs fibre to keep your digestion and detox pathways healthy and regular.

Lean protein helps you build muscle and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Healthy fats help regulate your hormones which keep your appetite on track, your metabolism and other bodily systems functioning normally.

And what about all the vitamins and minerals that are in fruit, veggies and meat. You’ll need those to help you look and feel amazing. Because let’s face it, losing weight is about looking good. But it’s not the only component of looking good.

What about sparkly eyes, glowing skin and luscious hair.

Those things don’t come from just exercise.

Diet vs exercise: Keep on with the exercise

Ok, I’ve sold you on the need for a healthy balanced diet. Yay. But don’t be tempted to cut out the exercise, because it is just as important.

For burning calories, building muscle and firing up your metabolism. And, not to sound too much like your doctor, but, regular exercise can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and many, many more unpleasant diseases you really don’t want.

It also makes you feel pretty great, releasing endorphins, giving you an outlet for stress. And, if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, which we all know is really important, it gives you something to look forward to.

Why would you want to give up on that?

Diet vs exercise: which exercise to do?

Hopefully you now see the role that both diet and exercise play on your journey to a great looking bod.

But, before I sign off, there was another aspect of your question that I want to deal with.

What exercise should you be doing?

It sounds like you’ve tried a few.

My question to you would be, which ones did you enjoy? You don’t have to pick just one. In fact, having variety in your exercise programme is always best.

Was there something you enjoyed more than everything else?

Maybe it was classes, maybe it was strength training. Whatever it was that made you smile. That you think you could make a hobby, that would be where to start.

It’s always easier to include things we enjoy to our everyday life. And that is the key to consistency and healthy weight loss.

If you haven’t found your thing yet, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a while to find it, just make sure you keep looking. That you keeping trying different things. Maybe even something you would never have thought of.

If you’re still stuck, head over to work out of the month for some inspiration.

Diet vs exercise: Prioritise health

Always remember, when it comes to weight loss health comes first.

To have a healthy body you need to be eating a healthy diet and moving regularly. Once you have those things sorted, weight loss will come naturally, and easily.

If you’ve been neglecting your diet recently, then now would be the time to get that sorted.

Eating a balanced diet of lean protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals. Not forgetting to sprinkle it with a bit of what you fancy, and I bet you’ll be on your way to your weight loss goals in no time.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.


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