man holding a dumbbell and about to bite into a cheeseburger

What's More Important, Diet or Exercise?

What’s More Important: Diet or Exercise?

Weight control and fat loss are common goals among those starting a workout program. And these are certainly worthy goals. As the American Heart Association notes, maintaining a healthy weight can improve circulation, improve mental outlook and reduce the risk of many diseases.

At PowerBlock™, we’re fans of maintaining a regular workout program as part of weight management. But nutrition is certainly important, too. How much impact does each have on your health? Let’s see what the experts have to say about diet vs. exercise when it comes to getting fit.

scale with the scrabble letters, calorie deficit, spelled out

Why Diet is Important

At its core, the concept of weight loss is simple -; it happens when your body uses more calories than you take in. This is commonly referred to as a “calorie deficit.”

Experts agree that, although exercise is part of the calorie deficit equation, diet plays a bigger role. As WebMD puts it, “All the exercise in the world won’t help you lose weight if your nutrition is out of whack.” They go on to estimate that many people underestimate their total calorie intake by as much as 700-800 calories a day -; a big deal when the standard recommended daily amount is 2,000 calories.

Meanwhile, Harvard Health Publishing estimates a 155-pound person burns 216 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous weight-lifting versus 40 calories sitting and reading. While this 176-calorie difference is better than nothing, to put it in perspective, a typical 20-ounce bottle of soda has 250 calories. Generally, reducing calorie intake through smaller portions, fewer processed foods and fewer snacks is easier than just trying to burn those calories through exercise.

fit man with shirt off holding a PowerBlock adjustable dumbbell


Why Exercise is Important

Although exercise may not be the “magic bullet” of weight loss, it’s still crucial for overall health. For starters, even moderate exercise continues to burn calories beyond your workout time. A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that, for the 16 hours after doing strength training, a person’s base metabolic rate increased by 4.2%. That equals an average of 60 calories, and if you’re on the edge of a calorie deficit, those 60 calories can be the final push.

Furthermore, exercise improves health and fitness in other ways. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes some benefits of exercise, some of which simply can’t be accomplished with diet alone. These benefits include stronger muscles and bones, better cognitive function, management of chronic conditions and longer life expectancy.

fit man holding a prepped meal in a container


The Final Verdict

For most people, health professionals recommend the 80/20 rule. This means you should aim to get 80% of a calorie deficit from diet and 20% from exercise. Each person is different, so the exact percentages may vary. But multiple scientific reviews, such as this one in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, have shown a combination of diet and exercise is more likely to achieve weight loss than simply one or the other. With adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells and other home gym equipment from PowerBlock, you can hit the ground running on your weight and fitness journey.