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January 25, 2021
More exercise or diet? Or maybe both?

I think this question may concern a lot of people and I hear more and more discussion regarding this matter; especially now that the holidays are over and most of us are starting to get back to a more balanced daily routine! Some people insist that it is best to reduce your daily caloric intake, that is, to significantly reduce the amount of food you consume -daily- in order to see the desired results… While others argue that increasing the calories your body is burning, that is, to add a form of physical activity or exercise in your daily life, is what is necessary to be done! The only sure thing is that opinions differ!

I will start by telling you a secret…I really like following a balanced diet plan and a weekly exercise routine. This way, I feel better in general, I have more clarity, more energy, and generally more joy to cope with my daily life and any difficulties that may arise. I definitely have my cheat meals as well, since I try a lot of delicious food every day, but I try as much as possible to do that in moderation!

So, shall we see what the experts say about the diet vs exercise debate?

What is very common on the internet is that diet should be 80% of a weight loss program and exercise should be 20%. How did this theory come about? It's very simple. Suppose a person exercises 4 to 5 times a week. Therefore, during the week, these are the only opportunities for the metabolism to work harder and burn more calories. On the other hand, if we assume that a person consumes 4 to 5 meals and snacks during the day, the opportunities he creates to consume something healthy within the week and reduce the calories he used to consume are proportionally higher. This percentage essentially results from this ratio: 80% diet and 20% exercise. Of course, this theory also applies to the fact that a person can reduce calories much more easily through diet than increase the calories he burns through exercise.

I think it sounds good as a percentage but that does not mean that we only follow the part of healthy eating because that will give us the desired results. Actually, experts agree on 50% diet and 50% exercise. This means that both are just as important. More specifically, in studies comparing diet vs diet + exercise and exercise vs exercise + diet, the best results - in terms of weight loss in overweight and obese people - were when people combined both. In general, a healthy lifestyle - as we have already said - is a routine that should be followed daily in order to get the results we want and see the positive effects on our health in the long run.

The existence of only exercise or only diet in one's daily life may help him in losing weight, but have you thought that there can be negative effects when we see only one side of the coin? For example, losing weight with exercise and without following a balanced diet plan may - in addition to the greater difficulty for weight loss - bring about some other negative effects such as injuries, lack of vitamins or minerals in the body. Moreover, consuming a balanced diet without a proper exercise plan - in addition to the greater difficulty for weight loss - will probably not bring the desired results, such as maintaining weight loss, muscle toning and increasing muscle mass.

So why just follow only half of the solution to the problem? And why look for express diets and fitness exercises for weight loss? Research suggests that whichever way we use to lose weight should become a life-long plan, in order to see positive results in our health as well, and so that there is no weight re-gain.

I think I have given you enough food for thought in this blog post! We should always consult the experts and, of course, have the patience to see all the positive results that a diet and exercise plan can have on our health.


This article was written in collaboration with the scietific advisor-sports nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr, INDI.

The website offers as a service a variety of articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.

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