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Exercise or Diet: Why Both Matter

You go to the gym once a week? Great! But did you know that once a week isn’t really enough to promote weight loss? Neither is twice a week and while three times a week is perfect, it’s not the complete picture of what you need to do in terms of exercise and weight loss.

Firstly let’s not forget that stat we see every day on social media – “losing weight is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise”. I'm pretty sure this isn't a statistically proven fact, but I would agree with it for the most part. The reality is that you can get significant weight loss results by just focusing on your diet and really this needs to get the most attention if you are serious about losing weight.

I am a huge advocate for exercise - being a fitness coach it's kind of my job... however, it should be done more for its other health benefits, getting stronger, fixing muscular imbalances, and feeling more confident rather than solely for weight loss. Other benefits like reducing your cholesterol, risk of diabetes and heart disease, giving you strong bones and muscles, alleviating depression and anxiety, improving your brain function and lung capacity too.

Exercise - not diet - is the single most effective way to improve your health and mental well-being and EVERYONE should exercise!

For exercise to be effective it needs to be done regularly - preferably three times a week. To promote weight loss with exercise alone you are going to have to work REALLY hard. So simply exercising once to twice a week in a nutshell, is NOT enough to give you significant weight loss results.

There are a few things, however, that may be hindering your progress. Do you replenish your fluid with sports drinks that are full of sugar or use protein shakes to help with recovery? Maybe think twice about doing so. If you do either of these out of necessity or feel that you NEED to do this, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons and you're likely wasting precious calories.

Secondly, it’s not uncommon for people to treat themselves after a hard exercise session. This may be a larger portion size of carbohydrate and/or protein, higher calorie food choices or a few extra indulgences like alcohol or sweets. By receiving praise from your friends, coach or from yourself we sometimes think we can treat ourselves. Unfortunately we often end up compensating the calories burned in a workout in a post workout indulgent meal or treat. Being aware of this trigger means you can better manage your response and be even more driven to eat healthy, especially post exercise.

Apart from these post exercise compensations, what is actually far more important for weight loss than that 1 hour of exercise you do with your PT, your friends, or by yourself no matter how many times a week it is, is what you do in the other hundred hours of your week! I’m not just referring to exercise, or nutrition. We know we should track our calories.

It’s your incidental activity that you should be focusing on. Remaining active and achieving 10,000 steps per day is a huge contributor to weight loss and may even burn similar calorie levels to your structured exercise.

If you are looking to lose weight, look at the food you eat and how active you are throughout your day, layer in some regular exercise (with or without your PT) and you really will be ticking all boxes to achieve great health and as a consequence you will lose weight!

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