Is DIET More Important than EXERCISE?
Both diet and exercise play an essential role in maintaining overall health and fitness. However, there is no point in having a bad diet and exercising to overcome its damage to our body. With several theories on diet and exercise mushrooming every day, it becomes hard to understand if diet or exercise is more important. Is diet more important than exercise? Can we out-exercise a bad diet? Can fat loss or weight loss occur by diet alone? Let’s scientifically probe these questions.
The DIET Only Approach:
In nature, no animal exercises to be in shape or to burn fat. So it opens doors to the theory that we need not exercise at all. However, surviving in the wild requires a lot of effort, and the calorie expenditure is very high. So animals opt to conserve energy rather than spend it on exercising.
As hunters and gathers, we never exercised. There was not a single case of obesity when we were genuinely hunting and gathering. However, 10,000 years ago, there was a paradigm shift in the way we lived our lives. We discovered agriculture and realised it was way easier to find food than continuing to hunt and gather. Since then, our reliance on agriculture has only increased by the day. The flipside of food technology (including raising animals for food) and genetic engineering introduced many more changes. The result was our lifestyle becoming less active and food becoming more abundant.
Whether we should only focus on our diet and not on exercise is a subjective question and relies on what goals we want to achieve. For example, if our goal is to fight obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, we can get results from our diet alone. Intermittent fasting coupled with a ketogenic diet is the easiest and most effective (non-exercise) way to manage weight, body fat, obesity, and other lifestyle-related diseases (if partnered with exercise, the results will be even better). Being in a ketogenic stage ensures our body burns body fat for fuel. So, yes, weight loss and fat loss can be managed through diet alone. Exercise may be the icing over the cake.
The EXERCISE Only Approach:
If we have a terrible diet and think that exercising can replace all the wrongs that the bad diet is doing to our body, we are wrong! When we exercise, the muscle tissue breaks down. Repairing the damaged tissue requires our diet to have enough protein and other micronutrients. Without a correct diet, the body will not optimally repair the damage (micro-trauma). There will be some weight loss or fat loss, but the body will not be becoming stronger as a flipside. Without a good diet, over a period, the body will start becoming weaker. The weight loss will be more in terms of muscle loss and less in terms of fat loss. Why would anyone want to lose muscle instead of fat? Exercising rigorously without a proper diet will do just that. If it interests you to know more about muscles, here’s a blog on How, When & Why do Muscles Grow?
It is Impossible to Out-Exercise a Bad Diet.
The case is a little different if we must achieve some goals with the help of exercise. It could be increased muscle mass, sprinting faster, running a longer distance etc. Here is where exercise will help, provided the diet is correct.
If we must Exercise to Burn Fat, then our Diet is Wrong.
Ideally, we should emphasise both exercise and diet. Both play not only an important but also a unique role in managing our health and fitness. The concept of choosing diet over exercise or exercise over diet is flawed. However, if it still must be answered - diet is the basis (cake) of our health and fitness, and exercise is the icing over the cake. Both are dependent on each other. Both diet and exercise individually help manage health and fitness, but together, they work even better!
A correct diet supports muscle building and reducing fat, while a challenging exercise regime ensures muscle breakdown and creates an environment for muscular development.
Exercise Only creates an Environment for Muscle Hypertrophy and by itself is NOT capable of Muscular Development. Exercise by itself is, in fact, Highly Catabolic.
Both diet and exercise play a vital and unique role in managing health and fitness.
It is possible to burn fat and reduce weight using diet (cake) alone. However, exercise is icing over the cake.
It is impossible to out-exercise a bad diet.
The concept of choosing diet over exercise or exercise over diet is flawed as both are not interchangeable and dependent on each other.
To get the most out of your exercise, have a good diet. To get the most out of your diet, have a good exercise regime.
We hope the article helped in understanding if Diet was More Important than Exercise.