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Weight Loss: Diet vs. Exercise

This article was originally published in the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE’s) Get Fit blog. Visit the American Council on Exercise for free health and fitness information, and read on for an excerpt from the article below.

The two major players in the weight-loss battle are diet and exercise. But can the battle be won using only one of these tools? Many people opt for the easier route, which they believe is dieting. But when you consider how poor the statistics are for long-term weight loss through diets, you need to consider a combination of both. Normally, only about 5% of dieters are successful in keeping weight off, and weight cycling is very common. Usually one-third of weight lost is regained within one year and almost all is regained within three to five years.

How Weight Loss Works
The mechanism of weight loss is simple. It is encompassed in a concept called energy balance. When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Therefore, to lose weight you need to burn more calories and/or consume fewer calories. The combination of both of these methods is the best way to lose weight and improve your health.

How the Pros Do It
Members of the National Weight Control Registry are people who have lost weight and kept it off successfully for a minimum of one year. Of these people, 89% use a combination of diet and exercise, although 10% have had success using diet alone and 1% used exercise alone. However, research shows that the combination of exercise and diet is more effective than diet alone. Furthermore, while diet alone helps you lose weight, it is exercise that improves your physical fitness.

Getting Started
Combining diet and exercise can be tricky when you’re trying to cut calories. It is important to make sure that you eat enough so that you have energy to get through your workout, but not so much that you tilt your energy balance back to the weight-gain side.

While guidelines suggest 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss a week, you should set a goal that is both realistic and manageable for your lifestyle and fitness level. Overly aggressive goals often lead to attrition and failure.

Read more in the full article, and track your own nutrition and workouts in TrainingPeaks!

Reader Comments (1)

For me weight loss = regular exercise + strict diet plan. Great blog on weight loss and thanks for sharing it with everyone.

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