Let’s face it – being perfect is hard. You can’t keep up with eating like Bob Harper and exercising like Jillian Michaels all of the time, right? So which one should you focus more on? More importantly, will diet or exercise help you reach your goals faster? And if you’re going to take a break from either eating well or exercise, which one should take the back seat?
Of course, our answer to that will always be that it’s best to try for a smart balance of each. If you eat smart and exercise regularly, you’ll have a much easier time keeping your body in the shape you desire. We’ve found that the two practices tend to fuel each other – eating well gives you energy for exercise, and exercising regularly helps inspire healthy eating. However, if you’re going to pick just one to focus on, there are strong arguments for each.
Reasons to focus on diet:
- If weight loss is your goal, then you’ll definitely want to count calories rather than steps. Consider the fact the calories burned in an hour of Zumba are ingested by 28 measly tortilla chips. Or that brisk 30-minute walk you went on this morning? Negated by a single can of soda or beer. In other words, those calories are much easier to take in without much forethought than they are to burn off.
- Goodness in, goodness out. There are a ton of theories out there about how various diet components such as wheat, sugar, or fats affect your mood and energy levels. The bottom line is that if you struggle with depression, low energy, or fatigue, you’re not doing yourself any favors by eating tons of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Plus, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can have significant positive results on heart health, mood, and brain function. Ditto for the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
And in the exercise corner:
- If you’re selective about your exercise, then you can still have your cake and eat it, too, to a certain extent. At our HIIT classes, the calorie burn is significantly higher than other forms of exercise during the class. And after-class after-burn allows you to continue to enjoy a higher metabolic rate for several hours.
- The benefits of exercise go way beyond burning calories, of course. As a regular exerciser you’re able to enjoy lower stress levels, better quality of sleep, healthier skin, improved mood, and higher self-esteem.
- The act of making and setting fitness goals can actually make you more productive and successful at work or school. Fun fact: studies show that if you create and write down a specific plan to meet your goals, you are much more likely to meet or exceed said goal.
- Your brain will thank you. Exercise has been shown to improve memory and other cognitive functioning. If you find yourself often misplacing your phone, keys, purse, car, and everything else, then perhaps some regular exercise can help to sharpen your mind.