Gym Dilemma: Diet control vs Exercise

Shoaib Siddiq Mar 15 2016
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It doesn’t matter if your goal is to bulk up or lose weight. There will come a time in your life where you will have to cut back and try to reduce your body fat percentage. The two things that pop in the mind when we hear weight loss is exercise and diet control. There are some who choose to eat salads and cut back the calories in an attempt to lose weight. And then there are those fitness fanatics who prefer cardio over diet control in order to build muscle whilst burning fat. While both have a part in the regime, it is impractical to exercise regularly and maintain a proper healthy diet. We have to take time, energy, money and motivation into consideration. So if you have to choose between diet control and exercise, here is what you need to consider:

Weight loss and weight gain revolve around the calorie consumption and expenditure. You can lose weight by consuming fewer calories or by expending more calories. For instance, you have a chocolate bar that provides around 200Kcal of energy. It takes a lot of cardio to burn 200Kcal of energy. So an easier option would be to not eat the chocolate in the first place. Point being, it takes a lot of effort to burn away extra calories, while it is comparatively easier if you don’t consume that extra calorie in the first place, which we call diet control.

You can lose 1lb of weight per week by just cutting 500Kcal from your diet. This is easy since all you have to do is to eat a little less during meals and stay away from snacks and soft drinks. Start cutting down on carbs and fats whilst increasing protein consumption. Proteins have high thermic effect (it burns calories) and it gives a feeling of satiety.

However, fellow gym goers will agree that gym is not the hard part; it is the diet control that kills them. There are those people who would rather workout to burn the extra calories than starve themselves and cut back on the sweeter things in life. For those, exercise is the answer to stay fit. But here another question arises, within exercise, what is more important? Is resistance training enough to torch that extra fats or you have to do cardio?

When it comes to resistance training, it consists of isolations (single joint movement involving one or two muscles) and compound exercises (multiple joint movement involving many muscles). Isolation exercises, as you might have guessed, do not a burn significant amount of energy. Compound exercises, however, use more muscles, hence expends more calories. But resistance training is mostly not intense enough to torch enough calories for observable weight loss. But resistance training can increase your muscle mass, which will increase metabolic demands of your body, resulting in more calories being burnt by just following your daily routine.

Conversely, cardio, when done right, is intense enough to burn enough calories that your body will have to switch to fats as a source of energy. But to achieve this, you will have to do a lot of intense cardio. A 30 minute jog wouldn’t do.

In an ideal world, one would maintain a balanced diet, do resistance training and cardio. But owing to the impracticality of this balance, it is up to you which one of these you would prefer to achieve your goal.

Shoaib Siddiq

Shoaib Siddiq:

Shoaib is currently a 3rd year MBBS student. Apart from studying, you can often find him in gym either resistance training or practising mixed martial arts. With his love for fitness training and knowledge that comes along with it, he writes various fitness related articles for HTV.