Is Diet or Exercise More Important for Weight Loss?

With 75% of the adult population overweight, and one third of children obese, it is obvious that our society is in a health crisis.

Just recently the 50th anniversary of the 1969 music festival Woodstock was celebrated and I watched with interest the archival footage. Apart from the great music, the one thing that stood out was not one person I could see was overweight, amongst the 500,000 at the event. What a turnaround in a mere 50 years.

Being overweight is not a cosmetic issue, although some people might view it as such. It is, moreover, a very serious health issue. It is not using hyperbole to say it can be a matter of life or death.

The risk of heart disease, strokes, many cancers including breast, bowel, pancreatic, uterine, ovarian and prostate, auto-immune disease, diabetes, gout, arthritis, hormonal problems, Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disturbances (including sleep apnoea) anxiety and depression all increase with being overweight. Even infections, both viral and bacterial, increase with added weight.

I could not count the number of people I have seen over the years who avoided chronic back pain, back or knee surgery when they lost weight following the practices and principles I outlined, some of which follow.

A Common Mistake:

Most people still hold the mistaken belief that exercise is the first thing needed for weight loss. One of the problems here is that the main reason for weight gain is NOT lack of exercise. It is what goes into our mouths- the food and drink. This is not to demean the necessity for activity, but the following example highlights the importance of putting first things first.

During one of my Transform Your Health in 21 Days Seminar Programs, Geoff and Margaret followed the key principles I outlined. Some of these principles were:

1) They first changed their diet. They detoxified. This was not a vegan diet, but did minimise animal foods and all refined and processed foods. The emphasis was on plant-based, whole foods;

2) They ate only when hungry, as indicated by a mouth/throat sensation, not a tummy one; and drank only when dry or thirsty;

3) They avoided snacking, which, when done habitually, is a disease-producing behaviour. Read more about the dangers of snacking here:

4) They avoided stimulants;

5) They avoided exercise unless they had lots of energy, and they secured a little more sleep and rest.

There were other fine-tuning recommendations, but the point is that exercise was NOT a priority while they detoxified. Changing what, why and when they ate was the key.

Tired People Never Lose Weight:

Most people living in this frenetic world are tired. Certainly, overweight people invariably complain of lack of energy. When tired people impose exercise upon themselves through sheer will-power, they increase their risk of illness and find their weight will not shift, no matter how much activity they force themselves to do. It takes energy to burn fat and lose weight, and if energy is chronically low, then weight loss becomes torturously unachievable.

Some years ago I wrote an article titled Tired People Never Lose Weight, and modern science has recently corroborated my views. Read the article here:

Increasing exercise when tired and toxic releases pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can increase joint and muscle pain, and inflammation generally. It also increases toxicity and further increases tiredness, creating a Catch-22. The weight remains, to our exasperation, despite (or because of), our good intentions.

Energetic People Automatically Lose Weight:

When Geoff and Margaret applied my recommendations, the results were astounding.

After just 7 days, Geoff lost 6 kgs and delightedly told his story to the seminar attendees. Please keep in mind that he was NOT obese, but about 10-12 kgs overweight, mainly being visceral fat around the abdomen, the most metabolically dangerous type.

After 21 days Geoff had lost 10kgs and Margaret lost 5kgs. That was 15 kgs between them. Further, they did not apply any portion control. They ate until satisfied. No calories were counted. No food was weighed. No commercial detox program was needed, and no extra money was spent. To say they were ecstatic was an understatement.

The first thing they noticed was they woke with more energy a few days after changing their diets and detoxifying. This then opened the door to substantial weight loss in the following two and a half weeks. The more energy they had, the more weight they lost, all without formal exercise.

Not only did they lose weight off their tummies, but also their faces. Their jaw-lines lost their puffiness and resembled their facial contours of years ago.

They had become biologically younger than their chronological age of mid -50’s, and looked decidedly younger, all in 21 days.

This example is common and not an isolated case. I have seen it for years. If the incorrect game plan is followed, and exercise is increased when tired and in a toxic state, outcomes are very disappointing. When the correct game plan is adhered to, outcomes are spectacular.

Exercise Now Becomes Very Important:

It is after changing the diet and regaining more energy, that exercise, for health reasons, now becomes crucial.

Appropriate food, appropriate exercise and appropriate sleep/rest are the keys to vibrant health.

The key word here is appropriate.

Exercising when tired, exhausted or sick is inappropriate, and will never serve us well in seeking improved health or weight loss.

Eating when not hungry is also inappropriate and will only make us more tired, more toxic and more overweight.

Make sure you eat, rest and sleep and exercise appropriately.

And if desiring to lose weight, first change your diet.

This is the appropriate first step.