Which is more important: diet or exercise?

Benefits of combining diet and exercise

Combining both Calorie restriction and physical activity tends to be the most beneficial for weight loss, rather than just caloric restriction or just physical activity. Research showed that when combined, diet and exercise produced greater initial weight loss and resulted in greater sustained weight loss after 1 year compared to diet alone. We also know that greater initial weight loss in the first 2 to 4 weeks increases the chance of long-term adherence to dietary changes.

We hear and see many success stories but often we don’t see what happens once people have lost a lot of weight. Do the kilos start creeping back? For a lot of people, this might be the case as losing weight can be a lot easier compared to keeping the weight off. Evidence suggests that a combined diet-plus-exercise program can provide greater long-term weight loss success than a diet or exercise only program. Remember, you don’t have to make drastic changes in either of these areas to see results and maintain them. We definitely don’t recommend trying the next fad diet that restricts certain food groups or doing hours of cardio that you don’t enjoy. Instead, make these 6 tips a top priority each day for good health in the long term:

  1. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  2. Choose wholegrains and lean sources of protein and dairy products
  3. Move your body in a way that feels right for you and try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week
  4. Practice all 4 types of exercise – endurance, strength, balance and flexibility
  5. Prioritise good quality sleep
  6. Stay connected with others

 

Why can diet make or break your weight loss efforts?

While exercise provides many benefits that help sustain your results, achieving a Calorie deficit through diet modifications is key for weight loss. To lose weight, the number of Calories we consume must be less than the number of calories we burn. A negative energy balance over time leads to weight loss. Conversely, when we consume more Calories per day than we use through exercise and our usual daily activity then we gain weight.

why nutrition is so importantThe reason why nutrition is so important is because it is much easier to achieve a Calorie deficit through your diet than it is through working out. When you exercise you usually don’t burn as many calories as you might think that you do, and sometimes we may compensate for the Calories burnt by eating more. For example, a 30-minute walk only burns roughly 100 – 150 Calories. Whereas simple strategies such as reducing portion sizes, adding more veggies, switching to low-fat dairy products and choosing healthier snacks can make a big difference and will help to reduce your overall Calorie intake.

When you are trying to lose weight it is important to remember that Calorie intake matters, but so does the types of food that you are eating. Your body needs adequate nutrition to function properly and keep you alive. There are many very low or no Calorie options available on the market these days however, many of these might not actually provide you with many nutrients. Eating plenty of fruit and veg, choosing wholegrains, healthy fats and lean sources of meat and dairy while minimising ultra-processed foods will ensure that you receive all the essential vitamins and minerals that you need. This may also help to prevent health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and improve your overall quality of life. Adopting these healthy eating principles into your lifestyle will support you to keep the weight off and benefit you in the long run.

Exercise

exercising regularly

Although it is much easier to create a Calorie deficit through making changes to your diet, exercising regularly has a plethora of benefits for your mind and body. It plays an important role in building muscle, strengthening bones, reducing heart disease risk, relieving stress, improving sleep and overall quality of life. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity helps people maintain a stable weight over time and can reduce the risk of excessive weight gain over time.

Moving your body doesn’t have to be a super well thought out gym routine. Dancing with your kids, going for a walk with a friend, gardening and even completing household chores counts towards your overall daily energy expenditure. Surprisingly, simply being more active throughout the day can actually have a pretty significant impact on your weight loss efforts. Here are some ideas for small exercise changes that you can add to your daily routine:

  • Walk for 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Spend 10 minutes of your lunch break stretching or walking
  • Follow an online exercise video 2 – 3 times per week – like our new Jump Start ActiveATE program
  • Explore the great outdoors
  • Go for a long walk with a friend

How can Lite n’ Easy help?

Try Jump Start ActiveATE, the better approach to easy weight loss and long-term health. ActiveATE helps you achieve your health goals sooner by combining delicious, nutritionally balanced meals with the NEW and improved Jump Start ActiveATE mobile app. It’s like having a chef and a personal trainer in your pocket!

It’s FREE to download. Use the Jump Start ActiveATE app to track your weight, order your Lite n’ Easy meals from our chef-inspired seasonal menu or follow along with one of our many customisable workouts led by expert personal trainers.

Research shows a combined diet and exercise program can provide greater long-term weight loss than a diet or exercise-only program.

Take the small step to reach a healthier you. Let’s do it together with Jump Start ActiveATE!

Sarah Cinar, APD Dietitian at Lite n' Easy