Is Diet Or Exercise More Important For Losing Weight?

It's not hard to figure out that both diet and exercise play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however, the question is which one is more important? Changing your diet can alter your life in many ways and exercises can help fight off degenerative diseases and keep your mind sharp.


If you want to drop a dress size or fit into those jeans, dieting is your best bet when it comes to losing weight. Controlling your calorie intake is a lot easier than heading off to the gym. You could essentially burn off the same calories as you would in 30 minutes just by skipping a candy bar.

Portion control is also very important. You may find that after an hour of strenuous exercise that you tend to overeat. Burning off calories is much harder to do through exercise than it would be by rationing your portions.

There is a common misconception that many people have about dieting and exercise. Many people use treats as a reward after an intensive work out but the truth is that you would need to spend hours at the gym just to work off 1200 calories in the burger and fries you just ate.

The tricky part is knowing what diet and foods work best to keep those pounds off.

Bottom Line:

Studies have shown that diet is more effective than exercise when it comes down to losing weight because it is easier to avoid calories than it is to burn them off. Strenuous exercise may cause you to overeat especially after a workout.

Avoid Dieting Slogans

Photo of a Diet Plan

Nowadays everyone is jumping on the weight loss trend and labeling products with slogans such as "gluten free", "organic" and "low fat". We tend to misunderstand these slogans because in our minds this means we can eat as much as we want without gaining weight. One study in specific showed that adults consumed almost 50% more alcohol because it was thought of as heart healthy. The truth is that a low fat ice cream is still an ice cream that contains calories and when eaten in excess it can still add on a few pounds. It is important to stick to the recommended calorie intake even if foods have diet friendly slogans.

Bottom Line:

When dieting it is essential to stick to your calorie intake. Just because a certain food or beverage is diet friendly or low fat does not mean that it does not contain any calories. At the end of the day, a low fat ice cream is still an ice cream and overindulging will add some extra weight if you are not cautious with your portions.


Don't throw away your gym membership just yet. While studies have shown that diet is more important than exercise, exercise is still crucial for fighting off diseases and keeping your muscles healthy, strong and lean. A flatter belly wouldn't hurt either.

Studies show that exercise is extremely beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease. When you are exercising your blood pressure drops and your blood circulation to the muscles and organs is increased.

a woman doing dumbbell exercises at the gym

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and reducing stress. Studies show that exercise can help with fatigue and improve concentration. 

Exercise boosts endorphins which effectively help to improve your mood. This chemical is also essential for appetite and controlling emotional binge eating which could lead to rapid weight gain.

How To Avoid Overeating After Exercising

  • Avoid habit forming eating patterns

For example, if you have finished your workout and get a smoothie to reward yourself, you start getting into the habit of getting one after each workout no matter how long or how intense it was. On average, each smoothie you drink contains about 500 calories.

  • Exercise Before Meals

Try planning your exercise routines before you eat your biggest meals. It makes no difference how many calories you have eaten during the day because your workout will only burn off a few of those, by eating after you work out, you are refueling your body with calories you would have eaten anyways.

  • Snack Through The Day

Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps to keep your energy levels up, stabilizes your blood sugar levels, and increases your metabolism. It also ensures that you don't overeat when it comes to eating your main meals.

Woman Drinking Glass of Water
  • Drink Water 

We confuse thirst with hunger often. Drinking water after your workout will also fill you up for a little while until you are ready to eat your next main course. Be sure not to overdo it with the water because this could lead to water intoxication especially since your salt levels are very low after a workout.

Our Ultimate Take Home Message

Shedding a few pounds sounds easier than it is, especially when you are not taking diet into consideration. You may be wondering why your morning runs have not produced any results. This could be because you have not considered portion control or because you have not eaten the recommended calories you should be. The bottom line is that diet is exceptionally crucial for weight loss, not only because it is easier but also because you may not be burning calories at the rate that you are eating them.

By simply switching to a healthy eating plan and cutting out the treats and rewards you allow yourself to have after working out, you could maintain your desired weight. With that being said, you should not throw in the towel just yet, exercise is a contributing factor to reducing your risk of cardiovascular and other disorders. Having a healthy balance of both diet and exercise will ensure that you not only look great but that you feel great as well.

Researched and written by experts, brought to you by our team at Mommy Authority.

Kari is a main contributing writer for MommyAuthority and has written for many other outlets regarding diet, nutrition and psychology. After becoming a mom herself, her new found passion, relating to motherhood, is now incorporated in her research and writings.