Diet vs. Exercise: Here's What Actually Matters for Your Health

And weight-loss, if that's what you're interested in.

working out vs diet for weight loss


We've been taught that while certain factors carry more leverage, weight loss is a holistic equation. It's the result of eating better, moving more, and generally living a health-oriented lifestyle. We've known for some time that eating well outweighs the exercise component, but we didn't realise just how true that was.

Vox recently posted a fascinating video that illustrates the reality of our daily calorie burn, based on scientific research. It turns out that a large portion of the calories we burn is beyond our control since most of it comes down to our resting metabolic rate—aka the number of calories our body burns just by carrying out basic daily functions. Physical activity only accounts for 10 to 30% of our daily burn. It's a notable chunk, but it's certainly not the end-all be-all.

On the flip side, this highlights how important our food choices are: While we only control up to 30% of what we burn, we control 100% of the calories that go into our body. This is why if you're looking to move the needle on the scale—or are even just looking for a bit more muscle definition—it's crucial to keep your diet clean and on the lower end of the caloric spectrum. 

Let's be very clear: Even if it isn't a guarantee for shedding pounds, staying active is still essential for your well-being. "It's probably the best single thing you can do other than stopping smoking to improve your health," says Kevin Hall, a senior investigator at the National Institute of Health. We know that exercise directly contributes to a longer, healthier, happier life, so by all means, keep logging that gym time—just don't rely on it as a weight loss tool. 

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