DIET VS. EXERCISE – What’s More Important For Weight Loss?


I have been asked the same question countless times over the years –

“I am trying to lose weight…so what is more important, diet or exercise?”

And, to be perfectly honest, my response used to be incorrect.

I used to tell people a good workout regimen with an okay diet would do more good than a bad workout regimen with a good diet.

BUT, over the years I’ve come to realize this actually did, and does, more harm than good.  For a number of reasons and realizations I NOW believe, and have proof, that clearly indicate a good diet and a bad workout are better for weight loss than a good workout and an okay diet.

So, if you’re serious about losing weight, especially if you are serious about letting that 6-pack shine through, your diet has to be as good, if not better, than your exercise.



1 | Exercise Doesn’t Burn As Much As You Think

Yeah, it’s a bummer to start with such a shocker but it’s true!

Any and every exercise you do probably doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does.

For example, an hour of any P90X weight lifting routine (i.e., a typical one hour weight lifting session) burns anywhere from 300 – 450 calories.

Now you might be like “300 – 450 calories!  That is awesome!”

But is it…?  300 calories is less than two servings of Oreo Cookies (i.e., 6 cookies).

“Well, I don’t do an hour of weight training, I run 1-2 miles a day…so I can eat two servings of Oreo’s…right?”


A 20-minute run (i.e., about a 2 mile run at a 10 min./mile pace) only burns about 200-230 calories…and 200 calories is bearly enough for 3 Oreo cookies.

Okay, you don’t eat Oreo’s?

Well, a 2 mile run is enough for one serving of ice cream….but we all really eat closer to 2 servings of our favorite ice cream.


The MAIN CAVEAT here is that people find themselves simply indulging (but it’s really more like overindulging) because they “worked out today.”

So, if you did work out today, don’t necessarily think you can eat a few extra Oreo’s just because you did – use a heart rate monitor and FIGURE OUT HOW MANY CALORIES YOU’RE BURNING before you start packing on the calories just because you hit the weights today.


2. Dieting Can Be Easier…and much less time consuming

So, you can either run an extra 20 minutes a day or simply not eat 3 Oreo cookies (a decision you make in less than 3 seconds). Or you could run an extra 10 minutes or simply skip 1 extra slice of that buttered bread or glass of milk…or…you get the point….

For me, when it comes to Oreo’s, I say, “the hell with it…I don’t really like Oreo’s that much anyways (though I do think they’re good).”

But throw a glass of whole milk or a slice of buttered bread in the equation and you’d see me running all day for either of those two items.

But not everyone loves buttered bread nor milk as much as I do…and not everyone prefers to extend their workout just to have that extra piece of tasteful bliss…. whatever that bliss may be.

So, I’d suggest looking closely at your own personal diet and selecting one item to remove per week.





The only caveat here is that people can give up a workout at the drop of a dime, but when the time comes to drop that dessert…let’s just say this very rarely gets dropped!

In other words, if you do plan to take the diet approach, sans working out, THEN STICK TO YOUR DIET!!!


3. Metabolic Rate Increase Is Actually A Decrease

For many years people thought that as one lost weight their basal metabolic rate (i.e., the number of calories one would burn if they did nothing all day) increased – BUT IT DOESN’T!

As one loses weight their basal metabolic rate actually decreases!

So, What Does That Mean?

Three Things Really;

1. Heavier People Burn More Calories Than Lighter individuals.

2. As you lose weight you will have to work out that much harder to continue to lose weight…or…

3. As you lose weight you will have to increase your caloric deficiency to continue to lose weight (i.e., you will have to eat even less calories).

Well, That’s Just Stupid?!

Yeah, it is…but now we know…and knowing is half the….you know…

So, Why Even Exercise?

If working out contributes to weight loss, which means our basal metabolic rate will decrease, which means we’ll have to eat even fewer calories to continue to lose weight, why would anyone in their right mind diet AND workout?

Well, other than the numerous other benefits attributed to exercise (i.e., stress reliever, a brain and heart enhancer, being able to bend at the waist, etc.), working out can help build muscle…and MUSCLE BURNS FAT! 

Fight Fire with Muscles

If muscle burns fat we can fight fire with muscles…and by “fire” I mean fat and by “muscles” I mean muscles.

You see, if we are building muscle we are doing a number of things;

1. We are exercising (i.e., burning calories)

2. We are tearing down existing muscles to build them back up (i.e., burning calories)

3.  Maintaining current muscle mass (i.e., burning calories)

So, yeah losing a few pounds means you might have to cut even more calories to continue the weight loss…but STRENGTH TRAINING AND EXERCISE can add a few calories back in your mouthpreferably in the form of a glass of milk with a chocolate chip cookie or that glass of milk with a Publix chocolate covered doughnut…just thrown’ some options out there.

How Does This Work?

It’s quite simple really, muscle requires energy to maintain and or build itself.

So, if you have, and are maintaining muscle mass via resistance training, your muscles will utilize calories to maintain their existence.  And, if you are working out hard enough you might even be breaking down and having to rebuild existing and new muscle mass…which is a triple whammy!

1. Working out burns calories,

2. Maintaining muscle mass requires calories,

3. Building new muscle requires energy.

This is awesome right?!

Yes, strength training does have awesome benefits in terms of maintaining weight loss, BUT REMEMBER TO NOT OVEREAT JUST BECAUSE YOU WEIGHT TRAIN!

Again, a one hour typical weight training session (i.e., no cardio mixed in) burns about 300 calories…which is about 30-50 calories short of that glass of milk and Publix doughnut!