March is National Nutrition Month – What’s More Important: Diet or Exercise?

March 22, 2018

68% of People Want to Lose 10 Pounds or More

Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian, Nutrisystem

(Fort Washington, PA, Thursday, March 22, 2018) – What’s more important: diet or exercise? It’s the great diet/exercise debate and anyone who has ever tried to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle has likely asked this question.

According to a recent Harris Poll on behalf of Nutrisystem, 68% of people want to lose 10 pounds or more. So how should they go about losing that weight? Focus on diet, focus on exercise or both?

March is National Nutrition Month, and diet and exercise are both key to living a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to losing weight, the split should be roughly 80/20 – 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent exercise. The logic is simple really. It’s all about calories in and calories out. If you’re eating less and exercising, you’re going to burn more calories. However, if you’re simply exercising, but not watching what you eat, chances are you’ll have a hard time shedding that weight. What’s more, exercise often makes us more hungry so at times, we up our exercise, but our appetite also increases, which is why we don’t see that scale moving.

There are simple ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle that include both diet and exercise and will help you shed that weight. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Watch your portions: Americans portions have become so big. And because people are used to eating out, they consider portions at restaurants to be the correct size, when they’re often four times as large. Learning portion control is key to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re eating out, ask for a to-go box and take half of your meal home with you.
  • Eat 5-6 times per day: A 2015 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that, on average, people who ate six times or more per day ate fewer calories, had a lower body mass index, and ate more nutrient-rich foods than those who didn’t eat at least six times a day. Eating 5-6 small meals a day keeps you feeling full, controls your blood sugar and helps boost your metabolism. Plus, you’ll be eating every 3 hours, making you less likely to grab the junk food.
  • Load up on veggies: Vegetables are low in calories, high in filling fiber and loaded with nutrients. In the morning, add spinach to an omelet or try smashed avocado on whole wheat toast; pile a lunch sandwich high with extra fixings (tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado) or use lettuce as a wrap (instead of bread); and during snack time, munch on carrots dipped in hummus or blend frozen broccoli or cauliflower into a fruit smoothie.
  • Drink more water: A study found that when people drank six cups (48 ounces) of cold water, they increased their resting calorie burn by up to 50 calories per day. Another study found that dieters who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals lost 36 percent more weight over three months than those who didn’t sip before sitting down to eat. So, fill up that water bottle!
  • Aim for 30 mins of exercise per day: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, but research suggests that it doesn’t matter if you exercise for two-and-a-half hours straight or break it up into 10-minute chunks. The easiest way to fit in your exercise is to plan 30 minutes per day or break in into 10-minute chunks.

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