Diet versus Exercise: Which One Wins the Battle Really?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about working your diet and fitness routine in tandem with each other.

sparshita saxena  |  Updated: September 15, 2017 11:59 IST

Diet versus Exercise: Which One Wins the Battle Really?
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about achieving a balance
  • You need to eat right and make smarter health choices
  • Never get lazy with your fitness routine
When I first set out to write this article, I thought to myself if it was really a subject of discussion. Experts all across the world press for achieving a balance between diet and regular physical activity. Even if you are unable to maintain moderate to rigorous level of physical activity thrice a week - as recommended by the World Health Organisation - it is always advisable to get some exercise in your daily routine. In my opinion, the efficacy of a well-balanced diet goes for a toss given the lifestyle we're leading. With most of us stuck to our workstations for more than eight hours a day, eating right helps little in staving off the damage done by prolonged sitting. Experts at King's College London found that even your daily dose of exercise does a little in undoing the damage caused by prolonged sitting.

So, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about working your diet and fitness routine in tandem with each other. You need to consistently eat right, make smarter health choices and must never get lazy with your fitness routine.


Running is a great way to stay fit; Photo Credit: iStock

When we are trying to lose weight, we also run the risk of putting it back again as most of us are trying to polish a sluggish metabolism and rev it up. In such a case, what you ingest in your body takes precedence over how you choose to burn the calories. Eating right will always help you burn fat easier and faster, whereas wrong food choices will make it difficult for you to lose weight and will also require you to work extra hard to achieve desired results.

Experts Speak

Weight loss, weight management and diet maintenance can be a tricky affair; therefore one must only try to go by the facts and not give in to sweeping claims. While most experts would vouch for a 70/30 divide between diet and exercise, there are others who reason otherwise. "The 70-30 divide of diet and exercise cannot be held true for all, there is no one formula that fits all. In fact some of the new guidelines that have come up, keeping in mind our contemporary lifestyle, actually press for an average adult to take up 20-30 minutes of brisk walking every single day, all round the year. You simply cannot skip exercising.

"Diet is always crucial, but it depends on who the person in question is. I would always ask an adolescent to be as active as possible while he/she is growing, whereas for an elderly, diet is something that is more crucial for weight management over physical activity," noted Dr. Ritika Sammadar, Clinical Nutritionist with Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, New Delhi.

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A balanced diet

"In my opinion it is an 80/20 battle and by saying so I am not downgrading the importance of physical activity. I have lots of clients who sweat it out in the gym for hours and come to me saying that their workout is not giving any result. No matter how much you workout, if you are not making correct dietary choices, everything will go to waste. If you're loading up on sugary granola bar or an aerated drink right after your workout, do you really expect to get any results? You may burn out as many calories as you like, but if you are not feeding adequate nutrients to your body then ultimately it will collapse, and won't help you build any muscle or stamina," shared Shilpa Arora ND.

"Firstly and most importantly, most of us are not even getting all the nutrients that the body requires for optimum functioning. Most Indians are deficient in vitamin D and protein. How do you expect your body to work or workout for that matter without getting all the essential nutrients? So, clean your diet first, get rid of all the bad stuff and understand the importance of various food groups. Once you have got your basics in place, try to maintain it and not falter. Lap it up with consistent exercising and you will see the difference," noted Dr. Rupali Datta, Consultant Nutritionist, Fortis Escorts, New Delhi.

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Keep a journal to keep a tab of your eating habits; Photo Credit: iStock

"Diet and workout go hand-in-hand. I actually believe that those abs are made in the kitchen. Having said that, only diet will not give the body you desire, that sculpted look is always a product of exercising your body," shared Yoga expert Manisha Kohli.

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"It is very important to watch your diet. If your are on a high-intensity fitness plan, you need a good diet to help your body recover, otherwise you will just snap and collapse. You will run the risk of getting injured. I am talking about mindful eating here," shared Gaurav, Fitness Manager at Anytime Fitness, Jangpura, New Delhi.

The Bottom Line


All in all, what we are looking at is an overhauled lifestyle to accommodate choicest of foods and ample exercising. You can remain healthy all through your life but you will have to lap it up with physical activity to remain fit and agile. On the other hand, you may keep trying your luck in the gym but it won't materialise until you make healthy dietary choices and supply all essential nutrients to your body. The ratio may keep changing, opinions will keep pouring in, the takeaway from this discussion concludes that your diet and physical activity will always have to go hand-in-hand and never in isolation. Just one of them will never be able to run your body without the other.

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