Diet or Exercise for Weight Loss

Diet and Nutrtion
Combine exercise with diet for long lasting weight loss
Whether the goal is to look and feel better or to improve health, many people want to lose weight. Until someone invents a magic pill, healthy weight loss comes from changing diet and exercise habits.  But what happens when one diets without exercising, or exercises without eating well? Is dieting or exercising alone enough to lose weight and to keep it off?
If you only exercise…
In theory, exercising alone should cause weight loss. After all, exercise burns calories, and burning more calories than one uses results in weight loss. In real life however, this is not always the case. One reason that exercising alone does not usually shed pounds is that exercisers compensate for the calories burned by eating more. The amount of calories burned during exercise is often less than we think. This problem is augmented when one uses the calorie counter on cardio machines to estimate calories burned, as the machine often overestimates. If working out is used to justify a few extra treats, the result is usually weight maintenance or weight gain. It takes a lot longer to burn off the calories than it does to consume them! Also, regular exercise can increase appetite, which leads to eating more. If the increased food consumption more than makes up for the calories burned in a workout, the scale will creep up.
If you only diet…
Although making changes to diet can result in weight loss, there are some negative effects of dieting alone. One downside of calorie restriction is a slower metabolism, which means that the body burns fewer calories per day. This slow down, causes a plateau in weight loss, even though the caloric intake stays constant.   Also, diets are often unrealistic. While some people may be able to restrict certain foods for a few months, most will not be able to maintain it for the long term. Because diets slow the metabolism, most dieters gain back the weight lost, plus more, when they get off the diet. Finally, dieting alone causes loss of muscle as well as body fat. Even thought the scale shows a change, the percentage of body fat may remain the same.
If you exercise and follow a healthy diet…
It is no surprise that combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off. Exercise helps to speed up, or at least maintain the metabolic rate despite a reduced caloric intake. Exercise also reduces the amount of muscle mass lost during dieting. This means that when the scale shows a drop in weight, the weight lost is likely body fat. Most importantly, people who exercise are more likely to keep the weight off. Even if exercise does not result in weight loss, it is a key component in maintaining one’s new figure.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to

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