If your body shape falls towards or beyond the right hand side of these sets of images (approx. over 25%) and you are reading this then you are probably interested in the answer to the question of exercise vs. diets.
I’ll try and amass the vast swathes of research done in this field here: Firstly with respect to diets there is simply no diet that works better for fat loss than another; what makes a diet ‘successful’ is one that is adhered to over time. So whatever you can stick to is what will provide the most result. The reason I have highlighted the word success is that by its nature a diet is usually a short term program and what we see has the most success is sustainable (i.e. long term) modifications to ones diet.
So let us consider that verses exercise and take a look at what has the most effect. The best way to consider which of these has the most effect is to compare the results using the same currency. If we consider the body as a physiological entity then we are talking about calories. When we look at how many calories our bodies require on a 24hr cycle we see the majority are needed to operate internal functions such as breathing and metabolising our food (BMR). Only a small percentage on top of this would be burned in an exercise session. Therefore the effect of exercise alone on immediate calorie expenditure is heavily diluted by all the other calorie expenses of the body; you can see your calorie requirement and BMR here.
However in most forms of exercise you build lean muscle either as an intent or a by product depending on your session choice; and here is where exercise wins in the comparison to diets. Lean muscle burns lots more calories than other tissue types and so whilst it is not an immediate effect on calorie expenditure by the body a long term effect of exercise does result in more calories (and therefore fat) being burnt.
So what about diets; or as we said earlier changing your diet? Well if the answer is consistency you have to ask yourself “Can i live like this?” and if the answer is no then you have made your changes too strict and you must change them to be more realistic. If you can keep a food diary this will really help, studies show that what people are notoriously bad at is estimating the calories they eat. If you start with a diary and a calculator you can tot up your intake accurately and wont leave anything to chance. As you gain experience you can probably start trusting that your estimations are accurate, but its worth checking in every now and again to ensure you have not drifted!
A couple of tips that can help you stay on the straight and narrow:
1 = Never eat lunch out unless someone else is buying! This is pretty simply a filtering mechanism to prevent you eating food that you have not prepared but is a good way to remind yourself.
2 = A couple of minutes a day with your food diary is more valuable than 30 mins in the gym.