If you’re someone who’s looking to shed a few pounds and get down to your goal weight, one thing that you might be questioning is what is more important – getting a good diet in order or performing some intense workout sessions.
While there’s no question that a combination of both will yield the best possible results, if you had to choose between one or the other, is one more important?
Let’s take a closer look at this factor so you can see for yourself what you must consider.
The Question Of The Calorie Deficit
The very first thing that you must take into account is what it is actually required to lose body fat. In order to successful melt pounds of fat from your frame, you have to consume fewer calories than you burn.
You can either achieve this by reducing your food intake on the diet side of things or increasing your calorie expenditure on the exercise side of things.
Now, when it comes to accomplishing this goal, diet tends to win out. You can easily create a 200-400 calorie deficit with your diet plan, but it would take exercising for 30-60 minutes to do the same.
Most people grossly overestimate just how many calories they burn during a workout and don’t realize how hard it is to create that deficit through activity alone.
Maintaining Your Lean Muscle Mass And Metabolism
On the flip side of the coin, exercise is what will ensure that you maintain your lean muscle mass as you go about the fat loss process and it will also help to boost your metabolic rate.
A low calorie diet however can put you at risk for lean muscle mass loss and will naturally cause a slow-down to your metabolism.
So from a long-term point of view, exercise will yield weight loss that may be easier to keep off, provided you don’t eat back all the calories that you burn off.
Your Body’s Tolerance
Finally, the last thing that you must take note of when asking yourself which is better in terms of the overall fat loss results it will provide is what your body’s tolerance level is. Are you someone who can take exercising for high volumes each week?
Some people simply do not have the recovery capacity to do so and will find that they burnout very quickly.
This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.
You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.
Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
Allow storage of excess energy for later.
So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.
This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.
The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
In a nutshell: a lot!
The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.
But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
How big you are counts too!
Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.
The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Our bodies eventually adapt to the demands we place upon them. If you’re doing the same routine week after week or month after month, your body has likely become very efficient at that routine, and is no longer burning many calories or getting a fitness response. I personally change up my routine every week, and recommend you introduce new exercises and workouts at least once a month. This is the #1 the reason why F.I.T.T. Body BootCamp is such an effective weight loss strategy.