To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is More Important Than Exercise

Updated 09/12/19

Just last week, we heard the same fairly mind-blowing news from professional dancer Cheryl Burke: Diet is far more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss. Here she is, a professional athlete, someone famous for having lost 30 pounds, and whose business is fitness and looking good, and she looked us straight in the eye and said, "It's all about diet. If you want to lose weight, 80% of it is diet." Then today, The New York Times came out with a now-viral piece, written by professor Aaron E. Carroll of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, underscoring the same point: "When it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don't eat is much, much more important" than exercising more, he wrote. Carroll gives the interesting example of how it takes 30 minutes of fairly rigorous exercise to burn 350 calories, which many people, even fit ones, find very difficult to do, especially on a consistent basis—while they could cut the same number of calories by eliminating two 16-ounce sodas per day. 

Now, you're not going to find a scientist, health expert, trainer, or authority on weight loss who's going to tell you to stop exercising, including Carroll. Exercise has countless benefits for your overall health and wellness, longevity, and cardiovascular system—so don't throw in the towel. Carroll's main point is that when it specifically comes to weight loss, calorie control is more beneficial to focus on than going hard at the gym. He cites several scientific studies that support this, showing that increased amounts of exercise have not decreased obesity rates in the U.S., along with the fact that exercising more simply increases one's appetite. Carroll compellingly writes that exercise "seems to excite us more than eating less does" and that the show The Biggest Loser would be a lot less interesting to watch if it was just footage of contestants eating less instead of competing in intense athletic challenges. Interestingly, when we interviewed famed Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett Quince, he told us the single biggest mistake he sees people make when trying to lose weight is thinking they can eat whatever they want because they work out. Along the lines of I work out, so I can eat this pizza.

Click here to read the full NYT piece, and tell us what you think about this in the comments below! 

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