The great debate over diet vs. exercise and which is more effective has been waged for decades. So let's get to the real story: Is eating right the key to weight loss or is hitting the gym every day your best bet?

You can't see results without a good diet.
Simply put, you can't work off a bad diet. If you're not eating right for your body, then you're not going to achieve the results that you want. As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75% diet and 25% exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It's much easier to cut calories than to burn them off.

Fuel yourself correctly
Your body needs the right fuel to work out effectively. If you're consuming too many of the wrong foods, you won't see results or feel motivated. While it's true that low-carb diets offer the fastest results, they can be difficult to sustain. Strive for a balanced meal plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. Never cut your calories too low because it'll slow down your metabolism and you can start losing muscle mass. For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight — so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500-calorie target. Having a healthy relationship with food and avoiding starvation diets is very important to maintenance of any weight loss. Think of exercise as a stress reliever, and as a supplement to your healthy diet.

Exercise is great for lowering body fat and maintaining weight loss.
Dieting alone will cause you to lose weight, but it won't make you stronger or have less body fat. Studies show that exercising regularly is effective in helping people keep weight off over the long-term than simply dieting by itself. Once you are at a good body weight for your frame size, purposeful exercise is important for lowering body fat percentage by increasing lean mass and is considered to be preventative for many chronic diseases. While diet and exercise are both important for long-term weight loss, remember this: You can't out-exercise a bad diet.


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