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Diet is for weight loss, exercise is for fitness?

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Old 06-04-2012, 12:11 AM   #1
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Default Diet is for weight loss, exercise is for fitness?

I've seen this mantra on several posts. But here's my question: if I burn an additional 500 calories at the gym Nd don't eat any more to compensate, won't I have a larger calorie deficit? Won't that cause more rapid weight loss?

So, let's say I went to the gym twice per day, once in the morning and once at night, and create a 1000 calorie deficit. Then, wouldn't that help with weight loss?
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:01 AM   #2
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Ooh I am following this post since I'm going BMR, cal def and weight loss crazy trying to read too much different info is exausting!

Per your 1000 cal def example & using 1200 cal diet this means your only feeding your body 200 cal, which if we tried to eat only 200 a day we couldn't...thus my confusion lol

I know if I burn 600 cal on cardio days I am not as hungry as when I burn 300 on weight lifting days (I upped my cal intake by 200 these days) but of course hungrier than off days ugh so lost on all this!! I know everyone has opinions on calorie intake/diet so I guess we have to tweak what we do as we go to see what works best!

I'll be bk to read helpful comments 

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Old 06-04-2012, 07:46 AM   #3
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Theoretically, exercise will aid in weight loss if done as you described it in your post. The thing is that you almost have to calorie count if you are depending on this method because studies have shown that often people inadvertently eat back their exercise calories if they're not tracking (hence, the notion that exercise has minimal to no effect on weight loss). Another problem is that people overestimate how much they burn. Cardio machines and even estimates you can find on the internet for how much a particular activity burns are notoriously inaccurate ----sometimes as much as 20% according to some. When I exercise, I always deduct 20% off the total number I'm given just to be on the safe side.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:00 AM   #4
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I find that to be true for myself. If I don't change my eating habits but I increase my exercise by a lot, I don't lose weight. If I cut and count my calories, I lose weight. There doesn't seem to be any connection to the amount of exercise I do in a week to the amount of weight I lose. Except that if I do a lot of exercise and stress my muscles (rock climbing, weights, running) I'll probably see a gain on the scale.

I keep my calories burned separated from my calories that I eat, neither "rewarding" myself with more if I exercise, or "punishing" myself with less if I don't.

For me exercise is to build stamina, strength and awesome muscles that will show up as the padding around them shrinks from my diet.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:24 AM   #5
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I was someone who exercised all the time but maintained a high weight for YEARS because I didn't watch how much I was eating. Your diet is where 80% (or more) of your success will come from.

Exercise will make fit, not skinny.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:58 AM   #6
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The way I see it, my diet fuels my day. My exercise keeps my metabolism in good condition, keeps my heart and lungs healthy, and builds bone and muscle. I don't really look at the calorie count on the cardio equipment, I look more at 'mileage'.

At the end of the day I ask myself (1) did I eat clean and (2) did I move my body.

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Old 06-04-2012, 09:43 AM   #7
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Its also important to realize that you have to fuel your body. If you body does not have enough energy to repair itself after workouts or daily life for that matter the extra exercise will only make you tired and want to eat everything. Be sure to eat enough calories to maintain your normal body functions, weight loss should be about a life change, which takes time and energy, not about a race. Switch up doing cardio and weight training and be sure to get enough protein in your diet.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:15 PM   #8
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You CAN lose weight with exercise alone, it's just very unreliable, because if you're not counting your calories, you're likely to be hungrier and eat more.

The "mantra," like most expressions is a gross oversimplification ( As in "absence makes the heart grow fonder" - it's just as true as "out of sight, out of mind."

It doesn't mean the mantra isn't true and useful, it's just an overgeneralization not a "law of nature."

Exercise helps, it's just very difficult to "exercise off" weight if you're not watching/limiting what you're eating.

My hubby is a perfect example of the mantra in action, at over 400 lbs (and me not far behind) we were going to the gym 3 times a week, and hubby was doing very strenuous workouts for 3 blippin' hours (I had to bring a book so I'd have something to do while I waited for him to finish his workouts). On top of that, he had a very strenuous job.

Hubby was not changing his diet much at all (and while he was eating healthier, he was also eating more), after several months of this, he had lost about 5 lbs (all in the first month), and that was it.

I was losing steadily.

Now I am also an example of how the mantra isn't the whole truth.

My calorie intake hasn't changed from the early part of my journey, but I'm losing much faster (though still slow) than when I started, and the only change is activity level. As I'm able to do more, I lose more (but only because I'm also still counting and limiting my calories).

However, I'm also an example of how the mantra IS true, because my first two years trying to lose weight "this time" resulted in absolutely no loss (I was eating better and moving more - but I wasn't "counting" or limiting portions). I didn't lose any weight (but didn't gain any) and my health situation and symptoms improved dramatically.

Although technically, since I did "diet" (changed my diet for health reasons) it also makes the mantra untrue. My diet changes didn't result in weight loss, because the diet changes weren't calorie-restriction.

So diet and exercise are really both for health, fitness, and weight loss, but these two tools are better suited for different jobs.
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Last edited by kaplods : 06-04-2012 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:39 PM   #9
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If you don't eat back your exercise calories, extra deficit = extra burn = faster loss, yes. Still not a good habit IMO to get hung up on calorie burn counts from exercise, since most methods of measuring this are inaccurate and I don't think being physically active should = penitence for eating or being overweight.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:05 PM   #10
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For me diet alone does zero, I have to do cardio/strength to get anywhere this century.

But yes, diet is for weightloss, exercise is to be FIT. I have been a "fluffy thin" before and I want to be thin AND toned. There's a difference.

I stick to a 1,200-1,500 cal a day diet with some restrictions but everything in moderation except green veggies. 20-40 minutes a day of exercise. So far so good.

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Old 06-04-2012, 06:25 PM   #11
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About 2 1/2-3 years ago I was 212 lbs. I joined a gym and 5 days per week I did 1 hour of water aerobics and 30 minutes on a cardio machine (treadmill/elliptical/rowing - switched off day to day) and 30 minutes on their weight circuit machines. I didn't change my diet at all. I think coca-cola ran through my veins instead of blood! I lost about 10 lbs and that was it. The scale never moved down, although I kept up this routine for about 6 months. I got discouraged and stopped going to the gym. Strangely, I maintained that weight loss.

In 2010 I went on a raw food diet and lost about 10 pounds in 1 1/2 months. I couldn't stick with this extreme diet and went back to cooked foods, although I made more of an effort to eat more whole foods and less packaged foods. I maintained that weight loss, but still wasn't happy with myself in the 190s. In 2011, I started calorie counting, and finally started to lose more serious weight. I do very moderate exercise and not consistently. I haven't joined a gym again. I walk, jog, or bike outside. I love being outdoors and have some excellent paved trails around the forest preserves near my home. Occasionally I use my elliptical, but I find it boring unless I am watching TV.

I measure some of my foods (like oils/fat free mayo/raw sugar/vinegar/lemon juice/mustard/spices - mainly homemade salad dressing ingredients), but everything else I eyeball. I can keep track easily of a pint of blueberries, an orange, a banana, a cucumber, a pouch of albacor white tuna, or a greek yogurt, etc. However, I don't eat many packaged foods, so I have to eyeball/estimate many of my foods (e.g. proteins, leafy vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli). I also have at least one cheat day per week - or 2 or 3 cheat meals per week - whichever I need to do depending on my social calendar. I do try to work those meals in with my overall calorie goals for the week. Sometimes I stay within the framework, other times not. I have a food scale that I might bust out soon - I've been too lazy.

I am the laziest dieter around, but I have still lost weight by calorie counting. Of course, I have lost weight more slowly than I would have with measuring everything, consistent exercise, and staying 100% on plan with no cheats. However, I know myself, and I would have never stuck with my weight loss goals if I had done things 100% all the time. I would have felt deprived and worn out. I wish I could have done it that way - for sure I would be at my goal weight by now. However, I am thrilled, yes thrilled (!), at the progress I have been able to make. I'm not complaining.

To sum up, for me, weight loss is all about the food - I was never successful with exercise alone, and exercise has played a very small role in my weight loss so far.


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Old 06-05-2012, 01:06 PM   #12
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I used to disagree with the adage, "diet is for weight loss, exercise is for fitness" even though the first time I heard that it was my doctor that said it and I should have realized he knew what he was talking about. I've since learned that it's true, and I think the reason why is because many people actually eat more when they exercise either because exercise stimulates their appetite or because they feel they deserve a reward. The most effective thing for weight loss is a combination of diet AND exercise but you have to make sure that you don't outeat your exercise which is easy to do. I literally cannot lose weight even when doing a rigorous program like P90X unless I also focus on my diet at the same time.

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Old 06-05-2012, 01:17 PM   #13
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For me, exercise was about maintenance. When I was down to 160, I pretty much had to exercise to stay there. It started going south when I got busy at work and couldn't get as much in. Not saying it wasn't the eating as well, but it was very slow and insidious at first.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:22 PM   #14
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I think part of it that hasn't been mentioned is that yes, you probably COULD lose a significant amount of weight if you were exercising 1000 calories away a day and not compensating with extra calories of food, but for most of us, 1000 calories a day of exercise would take a REALLY long time. Especially starting out on this journey. I burn about 200 or 250 in a lot of my exercise sessions, because I'm out of shape and I don't have a lot of stamina, and also because that's what I have time for. I don't have 4 hours a day to workout. 250 calories is nothing- it's half a mocha! Hopefully, with time, I will be able to work out more strenuously in the time I have and burn more calories more efficiently, but still, it's much easier to cut down the calories I consume than increase the calories I expend on a daily basis. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. If all I do is increase my calorie output by 250 cal/ day, it will take me almost two weeks to lose a pound, and that's if I don't increase consumption and if I do it every day. Whereas if I'm increasing output by 250 and decreasing consumption by 250, I can lose a pound a week. And I won't miss that half a mocha nearly as much as I'll feel that jog!
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:50 AM   #15
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MarjorieMargarine - I think you raise a good point about the amount of time and energy it would take to burn about 1,000 calories. I burn a few hundred at the most, and that is counted with a tracking program either on my elliptical or on my iPhone keeping count.

I think many people way overestimate the number of calories they are burning, and therefore, eat a lot of calories because they factor those inflated numbers into their daily food allowance. I've seen people claim to burn over 3,000 calories in their daily workout, eat over 2,000 calories, and still feel great that they actually have a negative deficit of over 1,000 calories for the day. Then they post about how the scale isn't moving. I have to wonder how they are coming up with those numbers? Are they estimating? Because unless I worked on my elliptical for 6-8 hours straight at the moderate level I usually use (4 or 5) there is no way that the machine would tell me I have burned, say, 3,500 calories. My average number of calories burned is about 350 doing 60 minutes at level 4.


Last edited by guacamole : 06-06-2012 at 02:15 PM.
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