Which is more important for weight loss: exercise or nutrition?

Which is more important for weight loss: exercise or nutrition?

Trying to lose weight can feel like an uphill battle. While there’s simply no quick fix for weight loss, you can maximize your weight loss efforts with the right balance of nutrition and exercise. Both are important for weight loss, but which is more important: nutrition or exercise?

As a general rule of thumb, long-term weight loss is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise. The key is to consume fewer calories than you burn, and when it comes right down to it, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to eat right and exercise regularly.


So how much should you eat to lose weight? Start by aiming to eat 10 calories per pound of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to eat 1,500 calories each day. But remember: eating too few calories can slow your metabolism and stall your progress.

Your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole-grain carbohydrates — no more than 30 to 45 carbs per meal and just 15 for snacks. Carbohydrates turn into glucose, which the body will burn for fuel before it begins to burn fat. By lowering glucose levels, your body will begin to burn stored fat and you’ll notice a slimmer waist and a lower number on the scale.

Drinking plenty of water can also help you lose weight. In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that dieters who drank more water experienced greater weight loss. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups (3 liters) a day for healthy men and nine cups (2.2 liters) a day for healthy women. Space out your water consumption throughout the day, drinking at least every two hours, and 30 minutes before and after every meal.


Regular exercise not only helps you maintain your weight, but it can also help improve sleep, reduce stress, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, among other health benefits.

The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That amounts to 30 minutes, five days a week. Brisk walking, cycling, swimming and Zumba are just a few examples of moderate-intensity exercises.

Resistance training is also important. Muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have, the leaner you will be. Focus on body weight exercises that work against gravity — movements like squats, lunges, burpees, push-ups, planks and sit-ups — rather than heavy weight-lifting exercises.

A nutritious diet and regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent the onset or progression of a number of diseases, but nutrition information can be confusing. Our registered dietitians can help you understand the facts so you can make the right food choices for you. For more information about the nutrition services offered at Goshen Hospital, call (574) 364-2679.

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