Food for Thought

Here you are, setting out to reach your health and fitness goal. You are wanting to lose weight, increase your energy, and lift your spirit up. I am sure many of you have set out on this venture many times before and have made many plans that you never ended up sticking with. You most likely many questions and don’t exactly know where to begin. The real pondering question is what method will work better for you, diet or exercise? We all know that diet and exercise are BOTH imperative towards your well-being and ever so desired small waistline. Through my own fitness & weight loss journey I have had many people in my ear about which is better when it comes to working out or eating right. What people really need to focus on is what they are trying to accomplish when comparing which is better than the other. Are you trying to drop weight, or rather avoid heart disease? Research has proven that, when you have a certain goal, focusing on one method over the other will give you better and faster results. Let’s take some different scenarios of goals people may have and the method that would be best used to accomplish those goals.

Let’s say you are wanting to fit into that smaller size of pants.

Diet is key: “It’s clear that you need to restrict calories in your diet to lose weight — and exercise to keep it off,” says Tim Church, M.D., the director of preventive medicine research at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge. “Most people who exercise to lose weight and don’t restrict calories shed only 2 to 3 percent of their weight over 6 to 12 months,” says Church. You’re asking yourself why this is? Think about it, restricting yourself of 500 calories a day (the amount you usually need to cut out to loose a pound a week) is much easier to do rather than burning those 500 calories through exercise. Let’s really think about this. To work off 500 calories, a 140-pound person burns 500 calories on an elliptical in just under 40 minutes. That is 40 minutes each day you’ll be spending when you could simply swap that Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha (400 calories) for a plain brewed coffee (5 calories) and by eliminating the slice of cheddar cheese on your sandwich (100 calories). Food for thought: Shedding about 5 percent of your body weight will reduce your risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

Now, let’s say you’re constantly feeling tired and are setting out to increase your energy level.

Diet is key: Exercise will release endorphins and give you an immediate surge of energy, but eating right throughout your day will give you an all day lasting supply of energy. Your blood sugar levels will stay balanced when you follow a diet with proper nutrition and pay attention to the time in between meals. This is important, since blood sugar spikes and drops are a leading cause of energy fluctuations,” says Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist in Salt Lake City and the author of The Secret of Vigo. When timing your meals, it is recommended to eat five to six times a day, or every three hours. Try to leave at least two hours in between meals and do not go longer than 5 hours without food.

You’ve heard the warnings and now it is time to start taking action to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Exercise is key: According to an eight-year study published in the journal Circulation, women who were the most physically fit were the least likely to die from any cause, including cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women in the United States. “Being fit is more important than weight or body mass index for heart health,” says Martha Gulati, M.D., the lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus. Exercise helps to eliminate stress, increase blood flow, and lower cholesterol, which in turn will improve heart health.

Now, you’re wanting to keep your mind nice and sharp.

Exercise is key: “The most compelling studies favor physical activity for mental acuity,” says Gary W. Small, M.D., the director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a coauthor of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who were more fit at midlife had a 36 percent lower risk of developing dementia later in life than did their less-fit individuals. “When people exercise, the areas that control memory, thinking, and attention increase in the brain,” says Small. “Regular exercisers also have less of the abnormal protein deposits in the brain that have been linked to Alzheimer’s.” That’s not to say that diet has no impact, says Small: “It’s just that the effects of exercise are more pronounced based on the evidence we have now.” When you increase your heart rate, you are pumping more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of an overabundance of hormones, all of which contribute in aiding and providing a supporting environment for the growth of brain cells. Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain because not only does it improve brain function, but it also acts as a “first aid kit” on damaged brain cells.

I am hoping that next time someone tries to persuade you into what is more beneficial when it comes to diet or exercise, you will now focus on what the actual goal is that you are trying to achieve in your weight loss and fitness journey.

Sources used:

http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/diet-or-exercise/page2

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1987

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/6-simple-steps-to-keep-your-mind-sharp-at-any-age

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