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Diet vs. Exercise: What is your goal?

Sometimes the ‘which is better – nutrition or exercise’ debate can get a little confusing, unless you take a step back and focus on your end goal.

Obviously, to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain your weight, exercise and nutrition are equally important.  However, when taking a look at a more specific goal, one might outweigh the other.


If your goal is to lose weight then your diet is more important.  Simple math tells you that weight loss is about having a negative balance of calories – calories in should be less than calories out.  It is important to understand that exercise is not a remedy for overeating.  Fitness director, Adam Martin puts it, “Exercise, while it has innumerable benefits, will not produce significant weight-loss results without cutting back on calories.  So it’s the second part that’s most important if you really want to lose weight.”  See how one meal can offset your efforts.


If your goal is to boost your energy then exercise is more important.  According to an exercise physiologist at the University of Georgia, the reason is exercise causes the brain to release invigorating neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.  Studies show that those who consistently exercise report surges in their daily energy.


If your goal is reduce your risk of heart disease then your diet is more important.  If you added omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, you could cut down your risk of heart disease by up to 64 percent.  Not only adding omega-3’s to your diet, but reducing your sodium and cholesterol intake you are lowering your risk of stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure.  That said, exercise will improve your cardiovascular health as well.


If your goal is to improve your mood then exercise is more important.  Not only can exercise help decrease your stress levels, a 20 minute exercise session can be enough to improve your mood for up to 12 hours says a study from the University of Vermont.  Exercise may also be as effective as medication for treating depression in some people. 


Please let me stress – one is not better than the other.  The most effective way to manage your weight and improve overall health is to combine efforts of eating a well-balanced diet with regular exercise. 



Source: Women’s Health magazine, June issue

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