Why Diet AND Exercise Are Better Than Diet Alone for Losing Weight

by: Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN


If losing weight is your goal, then this article may be very important for you to grasp. The reason I say that is because a lot people think that if they want to lose weight all they have to do is restrict their diet. The have to eat fewer calories. They don't want to pay attention to the other side of the coin - exercise.

After all, eating less is easier than physically moving your body and working up a sweat, right?

Not many people want to get out of their comfort zone and actually make exercise a part of their daily lives. However, losing weight and keeping it off may not happen if you don't!

The problem with only “dieting” in order to lose weight is that it doesn’t prevent the loss of muscle. If you weigh 200 lbs and go on a diet and lose 50 lbs, that’s great! However, what type of weight have you lost? Have you sacrificed your muscle mass due to not exercising? Most likely YES!

What’s the point of losing weight if you waste away your muscle? After all, muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, which means that it is responsible for burning calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. It’s that simple.

So, let's cut right to the chase. If losing weight is what you're after, then a healthy diet AND exercise are critical to your success. If you do one without the other, it's not going to happen. Believe me, I've seen it far too often having worked with tens of thousands of people over the last 12 years.

The Psychology of Diet and Exercise for Losing Weight

For some reason, a lot people who exercise believe that they can reward themselves with "dietary treats" because they've earned their keep. They worked out and burned 'x' amount of calories therefore they can afford to indulge. Wrong! If this is you, then that kind of thought process needs to stop. Otherwise, you will NOT lose weight. That I can guarantee.

However, there is another more empowering thought process that can occur. This is the same psychology that sees the small minority of people actually achieve their weight loss goals. They have the belief that since they've worked out, they now need to nourish their body with quality foods in order to keep moving them in the right direction. Thus, they make better food choices which, in turn, motivates them to exercise even more. And this empowering cycle continues.

So which mindset can you relate to?

Everything starts with our psychology. Get your mindset right and everything else will fall into place.

But I'm Not Making This Stuff Up...

Hundreds of studies have shown that both exercise and diet need to work together produce sustaining weight loss results. A 2005 study in the International Journal of Obesity assessed the effectiveness of dietary interventions and exercise in long-term weight loss in overweight and obese people. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 33 related scientific papers and found that diet AND exercise produced a 20% greater initial weight loss compared to diet alone. Furthermore, the combined intervention also resulted in a 20% greater sustained weight loss after 1 year than diet alone.

What does this tell us?

Well, I think it's pretty straight-forward. In order to lose weight and keep it off in the long run, you need to exercise and eat well. By exercise, I mean engaging in full body workouts 3-4 times per week at an intensity that challenges your muscles and gets you sweating.

Regarding diet, simply reducing your portion sizes will make a big difference. However, you need to ensure that the foods you are eating are of the best quality. Choose natural whole foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, and sprouted nuts and seeds.

I'm sure you've heard that a thousand times but it's true! You want to lose weight and be healthy, right? Therefore, choose foods that promote better health and you will inherently lose weight faster than you could possibly imagine.

The combination of a disciplined psychology and healthy diet and exercise choices is your ticket to losing weight for good. The good news is that they flow from one another and create an empowering cycle that becomes self-sustaining with practice.


Curioni, C. (2005). Long term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity: 29, 1168–1174.

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