Diet vs. Exercise: Should I Workout More or Eat Less to Lose Weight?

Updated on March 5, 2019
mikejhca profile image

I can still fit into clothes I wore 20 years ago. If my clothes get too tight or I can't fit into my summer clothes I quickly lose the fat.


How to Lose Weight Fast

People usually become overweight by overeating and not exercising enough. Being overweight refers to fat weight. Gaining 30 pounds of muscle does not make you overweight. Overeating means you ate more than you needed. Your body did not need the extra calories so they will be stored as fat. It does not mean you ate a lot of food or that you ate more than the other people at the table.

A calorie surplus causes people to gain weight. Burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. You can consume fewer calories by changing your diet and you can burn more calories by changing your exercise habits. To quickly slim down you need to make a big change. Go on a strict diet, exercise a lot more or do both. You need to change your habits throughout the day.

I lost inches of belly fat without losing weight. Fat Loss and weight loss are not the same thing. Don't make gaining muscle or having muscle bad. Pay more attention to how your clothes fit and how you feel than to a number on a scale. See how much fat you can grab or measure your waist. If you want to be lean, then you will need a lot of muscle. Most people can not stay lean without being muscular.

Gaining weight helped me lose fat.
Gaining weight helped me lose fat. | Source

Exercising to Lose Weight

Exercising seems like a good way to lose weight. Start exercising more and you can burn an extra 300 to 500 calories a day. If I spend over 2 hours on an elliptical I can burn 1,000 calories. One problem is that working out requires a lot of time and energy. It can also take a long time to recover. Another is that it can cause you to drink and eat more. It makes you hungry and thirsty. After a workout you might give yourself permission to eat some junk food or drink a can of pop.

Exercise is not a good way to lose weight. When I workout to get in shape I do not usually lose weight because I gain muscle. If you stop checking the scale and pay more attention to how your clothes fit then exercise is a good way to slim down. The problem is the results are limited. For best results do a combination of strength training, cardio and balance exercises. Increase your strength, endurance and balance. Get fit and build muscle so you can burn more calories while you are exercising and throughout the day.

Burn more calories by exercising more to lose fat. I can workout enough to fit into my summer clothes but not enough to get a flat stomach. By itself it is not a good way to lose a lot of fat and your weight may increase. You can't exercise enough to make up for an unhealthy diet.

I lost inches of belly fat by exercising more.
I lost inches of belly fat by exercising more. | Source

Dieting to Lose Weight

What you eat and how much you eat usually influences your weight more than how active you are. A sugary drink could contain 150 calories or more. One cookie could contain over 250 calories. It could take 3 hours of exercise to burn off the snack you had while you were watching TV. Most overweight people could quickly lose 10 pounds just by making a few changes to their eating and drinking habits.

Dieting seems like an easier way to lose weight. I could consume a high calorie drink and then exercise for 30 minutes to burn it off or I could just drink water. People often try to reduce body fat by consuming fewer calories because it is supposed to be easier than exercising. The main problem is cravings. You will probably crave high calorie drinks and junk food. Diets can also cause you to burn fewer calories, especially if you lose muscle.

Going on a healthy diet is a good way to slim down but the success rate is fairly low. People quit, it does not work or they don't even try. You can't just eat less to lose weight. When I do not eat enough I burn fewer calories and my body tries to store more fat. You could end up looking like you had the flu or food poisoning. Your diet should be healthy and you should like it.

If you could stick to a healthy diet then dieting is better than exercising for losing a lot of fat. By itself it does not usually work because most people do not want to stop consuming their favorite foods and drinks. It is also really difficult to resist junk food cravings. Maintaining healthy eating habits is a lot harder without exercise.

Drink mostly water, eat healthy food and avoid overeating to lose weight.


Getting in Shape

Exercise wins over dieting for fat loss. Dieting works better for weight loss but some of the weight loss is from muscle. Make fat loss easier with diet and exercise. Exercising burns calories and builds muscle. Muscle helps you burn more calories throughout the day. It can also help you change your eating habits by changing your cravings. It reduces stress and boredom. So it reduces junk food cravings. Instead of trying to force yourself to eat healthier you will want to eat healthier.

Maintaining a healthy diet makes it easier to exercise. Exercising makes it easier to maintain a healthy diet. I recommend starting with a new workout routine. Focus on trying to get better a something. You can motivate yourself to exercise with a 30 day workout challenge. After you start exercising more it should be easier to reduce the amount of junk food and high calorie drinks you consume. Remember your body adapts to your routine. Biking can make you look like a cyclist. Watching TV or playing video games for long periods of time can make you look like a couch potato.

Doing things you don't want to do because you don't want something is the hard way. Think of things you want to do that will help you get the body you want. I recommend starting some new hobbies. Biking worked for me. Don't focus too much on trying to eat less or trying to weigh less. Focus more on doing things that are good for you. To lose fat and get fit you may need to eat more food and increase your muscle weight.

Exercising is not a good way to lose weight because you can't burn enough calories to make up for a bad diet. Dieting is not a good way to reduce fat because most people can not get themselves to stick to a strict diet. Doing both to get in shape is a good way to quickly lose fat. It is easier and you will get better results. If I had to pick between diet or exercise I would pick exercise. Keep the fat off and control your weight by being active and maintaining healthy eating habits.

If dieting or exercising is not working then try doing both.

Photography can be a good hobby for weight loss.
Photography can be a good hobby for weight loss. | Source
Drink mostly water.
Don't buy junk food.
Stay hydrated.
Weight lifting.
Don't hide exercise equipment.
Eat healthy food.
Balance exercises.
Don't watch a lot of sports.
Eat slowly.
Fitness challenges.
Exercise while watching TV.
Use portion control.
Start new hobbies.
Be mindful of what you eat.
Have healthy snacks.
Cleaning & yard work.
Practice being relaxed.
Only eat when hungry.
Sit less, move more.
Don't use food as a reward.
Dieting and exercising to lose weight can feel like you are torturing yourself or it can be fun.

Should I Exercise More or Eat Less?

I should workout more, eat less junk food and drink more water to lose fat. Eating less food would not work for me. I need to replace the junk food and fast food with healthy food. You should workout more if you have not been exercising enough. You should eat less if you have been overeating. Since counting calories and eating less can cause you to burn fewer calories I recommend that you focus on eating healthy food. Eat less fast food and junk food. Drink more water.

Getting fit should be fun. You should like the foods you are eating and enjoy the activities you are doing. There are lots of fun or enjoyable ways to lose the fat. So there is no need try to force yourself to do things you hate. To be lean you need to have an active lifestyle and maintain a healthy diet. Getting yourself to exercise more and eat healthier can be difficult. It can help to think of it as reducing boredom.

If you want to lose fat but you don't really want to diet or exercise then focus on reducing boredom. Replace sedentary entertainment with active entertainment.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Michael H


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      19 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is a great article. I've always worked out, but couldn't figure out why I was gaining weight.

      When I started teaching yoga every day, I figured I would lose weight. I did not.

      About a year ago, I was doing my own daily weight and cardio workouts, as well as teaching two yoga classes a day. And I still wasn't losing weight.

      I realized that I couldn't fit more exercise into my schedule, and my aging body couldn't handle more. I knew then that I needed to seriously and honestly evaluate my diet.

      I still work out every day and teach yoga. Last year, between February and June, I set a goal to lose 20 pounds.

      I did it, and I have not only kept the weight off, but I have lost five more pounds.

      You cannot outrun a bad diet.

      Thanks for writing.



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