Seven Compelling Reasons Why Exercise is Superior to Dieting for Fat Loss

How many of you heard the saying “Losing fat is 80-90% dieting and only 10-20% exercise?”

I bet it’s a lot of you. After all, it’s one of the most repeated statements when it comes to losing fat.

Put simply, the idea behind this is that as long as you eat less calories then you expend (maintaining a caloric deficit), then you’ll lose fat, little or no need for exercise.

Many of the popular diets out on the market today are also based on this premise.

This is a very dangerous and quite frankly, incorrect line of thinking.

First of all, it is dangerous to follow a very low calorie diet because they can cause problems with both your mental and physical well being.

Depending on how severe your calorie restriction is, there are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t go on a low calorie diet, but here are a few of the key ones:

Loss of muscle tissue

To try to counteract the lack of blood sugar from carbohydrates in the diet, your body will break down fat, a desirable effect, however it will also breakdown muscle and other lean body tissue.

Less muscle = slower metabolism

Muscle tissue increases the resting metabolic rate. When you come off the diet, increased fat cells will form because your metabolism is slow and so your body needs less blood sugar for fuel. It is also a survival mechanism in case of another ‘famine’.

Mineral imbalance

Imbalance in minerals and electrolytes can occur, which can be dangerous. These govern the balance of fluids in the body allowing nerves and muscles to function.

Increased risk of osteoporosis

Dairy products like cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk are often cut out of a very low calorie diet. Removing major sources of calcium can lead to reduced bone mass.

Anemia (a lack of iron in the blood)

Women can find that menstruation (periods) becomes irregular or stops altogether.

Deterioration in your hair and nails due to lack of essential nutrients

There are literally dozens of other reasons why a low calorie diet is dangerous. Suffice it to say, it is not a good way to lose fat.

Second, you almost always re-gain the weight you lose. This is why you always see people try a diet, have some success, fall off it, gain the weight back and go on to do the same diet (or a new one) a few months later.

It’s why companies like Weight Watcher’s make so much money. People keep coming back. If they were successful in losing the weight and keeping it off to begin with, there would be no coming back.

I have a very strong dislike for fad diets. Most of them set you up for failure from day one.

So let me just say this outright:

I believe that going on a diet is the worst possible way to lose fat (with very few exceptions).

Busy people

Eating Less vs. Exercising More

There are two ways to create a caloric deficit. Eat less (consume less calories) or workout more (burn more calories).

Most fad diets will tell you that eating less is the key. I’m here to tell you that working out more is the better method, MUCH better (of course you can always combine the two…).

The key is still creating a caloric deficit, but doing it in a way that provides the most benefit to you. By actually eating more than these diets would recommend AND exercising, you not only provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly, but you’re also increasing your metabolism (something you can’t do by just eating less).

Think about it.

Do you really think eating less while not exercising at all is really the best way to lose fat, keep it off and stay healthy? (You do want to stay healthy, right?)

Do you think starving yourself is really a sustainable long term strategy?

Do you want to be one of those “skinny fat guys/gals”?

To really accelerate your fat burning you need to eat (eat healthy and not starve yourself) and utilize a program that combines both resistance training (weights or body-weight) and cardiovascular training.

I realize this isn’t some exciting, new advice.

I also realize it’s not as flashy as the latest recommendation from Oprah or the latest “miracle pill”.

In today’s world, if there isn’t some heavy marketing or some major hooplah around the latest fat loss advice (just look at the “Banana Diet” craze in Japan or the Acai Berry diet scam that Oprah once promoted…), it’s not going to get a lot of people’s interest. And that’s only part of the problem…

The REAL Problem: Human Nature

There is something in human nature that makes us inherently look for the easiest way out. For the majority of the population, we take the path of least resistance and always will. Or we get started, hit a plateau and “settle in”, comfortable where we are. “I really wanted to lose 20 pounds, I lost 9 pounds, that’s ok, I can live with that.”

We expect that the 25 pounds that we gained in the last ten years to simply disappear with a new pill or some funky plastic ab machine.

We’re always looking for the quick fix, the easiest way out, the path of least resistance. Savvy marketers know this and take full advantage of it.

Don’t be a sucker for savvy marketing.

The bottom line is that for long term success with your fat loss goals and to maximize your chances of living a healthy, energetic life, you need to combine a healthy diet (not starving yourself) with a workout routine that combines resistance training and cardio (not necessarily as separate workouts).

Top Seven Reasons Why Exercise is Superior to Dieting for Fat Loss

Look, there are dozens and dozens of reasons why working out (combining resistance training and cardio) are FAR superior to dieting. Here are my top seven:

  1. Exercise is a viable, sustainable, long term strategy to keep you lean and healthy.
  2. Exercise is a proven method to help prevent diabetes and control blood sugar.
  3. Exercise helps improve your self confidence and elevates your mood.
  4. Exercise increases your quality of life by allowing you to do more physically (makes you stronger, increases your endurance and increases bone density).
  5. Exercise increases your metabolism.
  6. Exercise is a great stress-buster.
  7. Exercise helps you look better naked. 😉

Oh yeah, and by working out, you’ll avoid the “skinny fat guy/girl” look!


Low calorie diets are not sustainable.

Low calorie diets are potentially very dangerous.

Low calorie diets are not the answer.

Eat sensibly, do your full body workouts three times a week (with two to three days of interval cardio training) and you’ll be getting great results in no time.

So what do you think? Do you have other reasons? Make sense? Don’t like exercising and would rather stick to dieting, even after reading this? Post your comments. I would love to hear what you think!

Dedicated to getting you fit and firm on YOUR schedule,

Coach George, The White Collar Warrior

Body Transformation Coach

ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer & Precision Nutrition Certified Nutritionist


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