Diet or Exercise: Which One Works?

I was bumping around Facebook the other day and I saw one of my clients link to a nice article that talked about how exercise itself is pretty useless as far as losing weight is concerned. I know she knew this and it’s something that I’ve talked about many times so it got me thinking that so many people are confused as to what are really the main drivers behind their goals: diet or exercise.
To that end I’ve decided to blatantly steal this article idea! I usually am very careful to give full credit to whomever I get my ideas from but in this case I just can’t remember where I saw this article. If you know please tell me so I can give full credit. I really don’t want to steal anyone else’s hard work.
Weight Loss – Diet! I can’t say this enough. If you want to lose weight you must change your diet. The nasty little secret about trying to do it all with exercise is that exercise just doesn’t burn as many calories as we think it does. Sorry but it’s true. If you hit the gym and then stop at Starbucks or the bagel shop on the way home you probably just took in more calories than you burned right there.
What exercise should do is set you up to maintain, or hopefully raise, your metabolism so that the weight can continue to come off and stay off in the long run. This is why we focus so much on resistance training as opposed to cardio. Resistance training helps build and spare lean muscle so that you can keep that metabolism humming and the fat burning even when you’re not exercising.
Joint Pain – Exercise. If you have nasty recurring issues in your back, shoulders, or knees most likely they’re being caused by some combination of poor movement patterns, soft tissue (muscle or connective tissue) restrictions or just plain muscular weakness. (By the way, I’m not talking about some kind of impact injury.) In the business we also call these things ADLs. Activities of daily living. 
A good trainer should be able to spot these things and help you move better, get you stronger and break through some of those restrictions. Sometimes they might have to refer you to a body-worker if your issues are a little more in depth, but the point is good exercise programming is the way to go here.
Also, and pay attention here because this is VERY IMPORTANT, if this is your issue you’ve got to realize that this takes work outside the gym to improve. Your trainer can tell and show you what to do, but it’s up to you to take those lessons and apply them to your life! After all you might be in the gym 3 hours a week but you’re outside the gym 165 hours other than that!
What diet can do for you here is help you fight some of the inflammation that can come with eating overly processed foods. Up the fruits and veggies in this case as they’re going to be your main anti-inflammatories! Adding in some fish oil can help as well.
General Fitness – Both! In order to improve your general fitness there’s no way around it, you need to take both diet and exercise seriously. Your exercise will build your athletic engine and your nutrition will give you the fuel to run it.
The great thing about it is when put together in a well-constructed plan, the combination of diet and exercise can set you up for a lifetime of fitness and success! Who doesn’t want that?
Let me know if you have any questions about how to improve your diet and exercise and what is important for you to focus on.

Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
510-754-7113
I Help People Discover Their Strength!