Doctors Say Exercise is More Important than Diet when it Comes to Fat Loss…Their Reason Helps Keep Stubborn Fat Off Forever

Posted in: Exercise

Susan Ohtake, CPT

I know I’m not going to be able to talk you into exercising if you don’t want to, but…

Researchers have recently discovered that exercise is actually MORE important than diet when it comes to long-term fat loss.

Their findings explain why some of us end up losing weight and gaining it all back…

…while others eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce.

A new University of Colorado study demonstrated that physical activity does more to maintain weight loss when compared to diet alone.

Let’s talk about what this new research means, how it might explain the dreaded yo-yo dieting effect many of us fall into, and how you can balance exercise, activity, and diet to shed fat and keep it off for good.

First things first…

Changing up your diet and eating less is the fastest way to lose fat. It’s much easier to lose weight by changing your diet.

Yes, you can out-exercise unhealthy eating. But would you want to? It would take hours and hours of exercise—even if you’re following the most effective fat burning workouts possible—to exercise away fat.

Even though the right type of exercise can speed up total energy expenditure so you burn more calories all day long, and even with workouts planned to mobilize and burn stubborn fat…

…you still need to focus on diet.

While I typically recommend a lower-carb, high protein diet that’s pared with a workouts that boosts your metabolism (like the plan found in my 21-Day Metabolic Reset)…

…nearly any diet that restricts calories will melt away fat if you give it enough time.

Why Exercise is More Important Than Diet for Keeping Fat Off

It’s much easier to lose weight by changing your diet. And while you can out-exercise unhealthy eating…I don’t think you’d want to (it would take hours and hours of exercise every day). But if that’s the case…

So, why are researchers saying exercise is more important for weight loss?

According to this latest study, it comes down to keeping the weight off.

Researchers at the University of Colorado set out to determine why the yo-yo pattern of losing fat just to gain it all back again is so common. According to Danielle Ostendorf, PhD, they wanted to know “why so many people struggle to keep weight off over a long period.”

What they found is that those who successfully lose weight and keep it off rely on physical activity and NOT calorie restriction to keep fat from coming back.

Their findings suggest that physical activity is more important then diet when it comes to keeping fat off after you lose it.

What does this mean?

Weight loss “maintainers” keep the weight off with physical activity, not diet.

Just imagine…

Eating MORE than You Did Before, But the Fat DOES NOT Come Back

According to Dr. Victoria A. Catenacci at Colorado University…

“Our findings suggest that…successful weight-loss maintainers are consuming a similar number of calories per day as individuals with overweight and obesity but appear to avoid weight regain by compensating for this with high levels of physical activity.”

To reach this conclusion, they studied three groups:

  • Overweight Individuals
  • Weight-Loss Maintenance Group (lost weight and looking to keep it off)
  • And a Control “Normal Weight” Group

The weight loss maintenance group and overweight group ate about 300 calories more per day than the control group.

While they discovered successful weight loss maintainers ate about the same number of calories as the individuals who were overweight, increased calorie burn from activity kept maintainers from putting fat back on.

Here’s what this means:

People who lose weight and keep it off eat just as much as those who are overweight…

…but they make up for the difference in calories by burning more calories.

What these researchers were really studying is called:

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (And Why it Matters More than Diet)


Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the sum of everything you do in a day to burn calories.

You burn calories when you rest. You burn calories exercising (and after) or just walking around. You even burn calories when you eat and digest food!

In this study, weight loss maintainers had a higher total energy expenditure.

That’s why they could eat the same and not gain the weight back.

Increasing Total Daily Energy Expenditure is Easier and More Effective than Diet Alone

What does this study mean for you and me?

If you want to maintain weight loss, you can’t do it with diet alone.

My recommendation is this:

If you want to lose weight quickly, you need to combine diet and exercise so you burn more calories and take less calories in. Yes, some diets are more effective than others. Yes, some workouts burn fat faster and more efficiently than others.

Once the fat is off, you can’t rely on diet alone.

You need to focus on increasing Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Short, intense workouts are an effective way to increase TDEE because you can exercise for just a few minutes, but your metabolism continues to burn “hot” and melt calories for hours and hours after your workout is over.

This is called “afterburn,” and some workouts trigger it better than others.

If you’d like to combine smart eating with short, effective workouts to mobilize fat and accelerate your metabolism, consider trying my 21-Day Metabolic Reset. I’ve built everything you need into a quick 21-Day Program that you can do at home and is super easy to stick to. The workouts take minutes!

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