What Is More Effective for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

What's more efective for weight loss? (Photo via Mike Von/Unsplash)

Many debates have been formed around the topic of which is more effective for weight loss: exercise or diet. Ideally, it would be great if one were to combine both for weight loss. That’s the way to achieve optimum benefit.

However, if the question forced one to choose an answer for what's more effective for weight loss, it’s not impossible to answer.

What is more effective for weight loss?

When it comes to what’s more effective for weight loss between diet and exercise, it’s diet. The reason for this is that regardless of whether you exercise or not, you need to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight.

So, you could be working out every day using compound movements and HIIT sessions, but if you’re not in a calorie deficit, you will not lose weight. In fact, if you’re in a surplus while doing resistance training, you’ll end up becoming bigger with muscles and mass. Hence, it’s essential to maintain a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight.


What is a calorie deficit?

Our bodies have a daily energy expenditure which is measured in calories. Your body will burn a certain number of calories every day to maintain your current physique. This is known as maintenance.

Now, if you were to consume your maintenance calories, you would neither lose weight nor gain weight. However, if you are in a calorie surplus, the body will burn the maintenance calories and store the extra calories for future use or build muscles. Finally, if you’re in a calorie deficit, your body will use up the calories consumed and dive into the stored calories to reach the maintenance level. When your body needs more calories than you’re consuming, it burns the stored calories, which results in weight loss.


Therefore, it’s absolutely essential to be in a calorie deficit when you’re aiming to lose weight.

Why should you combine exercise and diet?

While diet is the answer to what’s more effective for weight loss, as previously stated, a combination of both is ideal.

A calorie deficit helps you reach the bare minimum in terms of how much you’re burning. If you need 2000 calories a day, the maximum you can cut out is 500 calories, and aim for 1500 calories a day. You can’t go lower than that since it’ll be harmful to your overall health.


On the other hand, if you consume 1500 calories, you’re only burning 500 calories a day. If you exercise while being on a calorie deficit, you can increase the number of calories burned on a daily basis.

Bottom line

When you’re focusing on what’s more effective for weight loss, there’s an answer. However, if you’re wondering what’s ideal for weight loss, it’s a combination of both.

Apart from exercise and diet, you should add rest and recovery to the process as well. Together, all of these elements can help you lose weight as well as attain muscle development.

It’s important to note that everyone will have a different calorie deficit range and maintenance calories. Therefore, it’s best to consult a dietician or fitness coach to understand how to go about the changes in your nutrition and workout routine.

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