Diet vs Exercise: What’s Most Important?

You see it thrown around all the time that ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ and that weight loss is ‘80% diet and only 20% exercise’. I hate both phrases. Abs aren’t made in the kitchen, they’re developed in the gym or other exercise facility, but their visibility is determined by body fat percentage and body fat percentage is purely the percentage of you body that is made up of fats. You can be underweight and still have a high body fat percentage and non visible muscle. It’s what everyone calls ‘skinny fat’.

I was skinny fat last year, after having four years off of any real exercise and training. I’d lost loads of weight and actually weighed the lowest I have since I was 17 years old. But my body fat percentage was nearly 30%, the highest it’s ever been. I was thin but I wasn’t healthy, I was still squidgy, I hated how my body looked and for the first time in my life I couldn’t do push ups, not only could I not do them on my toes, I couldn’t even do them on my knees. I’d lost weight because my thyroid had gone insane. But the same type of weight loss occurs when you lose weight by diet alone. When we restrict the calories going in, our bodies are very clever at making use of other available resources for energy and it breaks down what’s already in the body. But it’s not all from fat, you also break down lean muscle. When muscle loss happens, you also lose the subtle, metabolic boost that comes from having more metabolically active muscle tissue. And THERE IS NO MAGIC DIET THAT WILL ENSURE ALL YOUR WEIGHT LOSS IS FROM FAT. All diets will cause you to lose weight if you restrict the calories enough but none of them can cause you to purely strip the fat and get great ab definition and a sculpted ass. If you lose weight through diet alone, your body fat percentage is highly likely to stay the same and maintaining the weight loss will be almost impossible because you’ve just lost the lean muscle you had that was using more calories so your metabolism will have taken a dive and you’re to tired and unmotivated to start up any new exercise plans.

But you also can’t out exercise a bad diet! Doing the right types of exercise (I will go into what the right type of exercise is in another blog post) will help boost a lagging metabolism, build and maintain lean muscle and helps improve mental and physical health in a lot of ways but you can’t combat eating take-out almost every night and snacking on snickers and wine by going to Zumba once a week or even every night.

We have a lot of students comment that they deserve a take-out, or junk food, because they’ve just completed Metafit or done 90 minutes of kick boxing. They don’t realise that although they could have just burned off around 7-800kcals, there’s more calories than that in a big Mac and fries, not even including the soft drink or sides they might get as well, and there’s way more if they go for half a large stuffed crust pizza!

Diet and exercise are equally important in achieving a healthy, strong body. And anyone who tries to diminish the importance of either one is probably trying to sell you the other!

And if you are doing both and still not getting results, then something isn’t quite right and you may need to re-evaluate both and I’m willing to help. 🙂

Published by aerialemma

I'm a 40 year old aerial arts and pole dance instructor who has recently been diagnosed with Graves' Disease

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