Health

What Matters More For Weight Loss: Diet Or Exercise?

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We're not saying you should choose between eating healthy and going to the the gym, but if you're trying to lose weight and you can only do one, you know what they say: Abs are made in the kitchen. (Translation: eat healthier.)

If You Had To Choose...

If you're hoping to lose weight, focusing on your diet could prove way more helpful than hitting the gym. Exercise burns comparatively few calories when you take food into consideration. A 30-minute workout might burn somewhere between 300 and 400 calories, but you could cut the same amount from your diet by giving up a bag of chips and a soda. Multiple studies confirm that physical activity doesn't seem to be the deciding factor in whether people gain or lose weight, and that adjusting what you eat has a larger impact. This isn't to say that exercise isn't good for you—it absolutely is and has significant effects on your overall health and fitness. Combining exercise with a healthy diet can indeed help with achieving sustainable weight loss.

Related: Bad News. Exercise Won't Save You From Sitting Too Much

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So I Can Stop Working Out?

Not so much. Exercise still has plenty of necessary benefits: it can keep your brain sharp, your body healthy, and your emotional state in check. Losing weight and being healthy aren't the same thing. But if you've got a New Year's resolution to shed a few lbs and you're feeling too lazy to work out, it's still possible to achieve your goal. (Not that we endorse that.)

Related: Sit-Ups Are Risky. Try These Core Exercises Instead.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Exercise burns far fewer calories than many people think. 00:47

  2. When you lose weight, your resting metabolic rate typically slows, which is why losing weight becomes harder over time. 02:56

  3. Studies have shown that combining a healthy change in diet with exercise leads to sustainable weight loss, but that the inclusion of exercise makes a small or negligible difference after a certain period of time. 03:34

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