Exercise Alone Won’t Cut It

Why exercise alone won’t cut it – diet is important to reach ANY of your fitness goals!

Maybe you’ve heard before that weight changes are 80% related to nutrition, and 20% to exercise. This is TRUE! But why? Think of it like this: it would take the average person about 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise to burn 300 calories. But it would take a significantly LESS amount of time to consume 300 calories. For example, 2 pieces of whole grain bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter = 300 calories.

Both exercise and diet are important in order to effectively lose or gain weight. To lose weight, you must put your body in a negative energy balance (burning more than you consume). The best way to do this is by increasing your exercise and decreasing the total amount of calories you eat daily. If you just focus on exercise without making any changes in your diet, you may have to do about 6 hours of moderate cardiovascular exercise to lose 1 pound of fat. With this much exercise, most people will experience an increase in appetite, which leads to eating more. Studies that look at how people comply with exercise programs show that over time, people end up burning less energy with exercise than predicted, as well as increasing their caloric intake.

The principle also relates to gaining weight. In this case, you must put your body in a positive energy balance (consuming more than you burn). Therefore, you MUST increase the amount of food you eat. You also may need to change your approach to exercise to burn less calories. If you’re looking to gain muscle, you must be particular about HOW you increase your calories so that you aren’t gaining fat.

Not only is the importance of diet proven in research studies, but it also holds true with my clients. Any client I know that has lost or gained weight AND maintained it will tell you that they learned how to eat right. Want to know how to reach YOUR goals? Let me give you specific advice related to your goals, body type, exercise routine, and schedule. Contact me at mschulte@santechase.com.

Morgan Schulte is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master’s degree from Saint Louis University emphasizing in sports nutrition. She has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Dietetics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is an ACSM Certified Exercise Specialist (CEP).