Diet Vs. Exercise: Which Helps You Lose More Weight?

Which is more effective in helping you lose weight, diet or exercise?

Obviously, in the perfect world you would exercise regularly, develop a sensible and nutritious diet, get lots of sleep and drink lots of water. That would help effectively return your body to its ideal weight. But if you had to choose one or another, exercising or dieting, which is the most efficient and healthy way to lose weight?

The short answer is diet. That’s right, what you eat (as well as how and when you eat), is far more effective than exercise when it comes to weight management. Exercise is still ultra important for your overall physical and mental well-being, so you really should exercise frequently while also eating properly.

What you focus on and what you believe also play a part

A study out of Ohio State University’s College of Public Health indicates that when you spend time on one action or habit, that often creates less time for another activity. You are focusing all your time and energy on exercise so your diet suffers, and vice versa.

As it turns out, those that believe dieting will help you lose more weight than exercise generally have a lower body mass index (BMI). That information comes from a handful of studies published in Psychological Science. 1,200 participants in South Korea, China, France, Canada and the United States were asked what they believe the main factor is that keeps people overweight. Height, weight and other measurements were taken.

Surprisingly, people who believed fitness and exercise was a more important factor for weight loss than proper diet and nutrition actually had higher BMI numbers. They had more body fat. This is because your weight loss mentality impacts your food choices. If you believe exercise is more important than diet for losing weight, you don’t pay as much attention to what you are eating and how much you are eating.

And if you believe that proper diet and nutrition removes more weight than exercise, you are more inclined to pay attention to what you put into your body. For instance, in one of the above referenced studies, the volunteers were offered unlimited chocolate. Time and again, those that believed staying active was the key to losing weight ate more than their diet-minded counterparts.

So how can you use this revealing research to your advantage?

You can’t work off a poor diet

Understand that exercise can definitely help you lose weight. But also remember that effective weight loss means putting the right things into your body in the first place.

In a Nutshell…

Cut back on processed, fatty, saturated and fast foods, white flour, sugar and salt. Eat real food, eat slowly, and eat with the sun (not at night – especially not late at night).  Remember to also drink enough water. Water is often all your body requires when you think you are hungry.

Consistently focus on creating a healthy diet, and your beliefs will help you reach your weight loss goals faster.

To your health and happiness.

Neil Forsey
Head Coach & Founder of Hungry Coach
Weight Loss Coach/Consultant
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (INHC)
Certified Eating Psychology Coach (CEPC)
Certified International Health Coach (CIHC)
Certified Life Coach (CLC)


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  • Weight Loss
  • Overeating
  • Binge Eating
  • Emotional Eating
  • And/or Body Image Issues

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