A good friend of mine asked me this morning if I could set her up with a weight training plan. I asked what the goal was (I knew she didn’t want to look like a bodybuilder). She said the goal was to lose 10 to 15 pounds.
I then asked her all about her diet, which she described for me.And that was the end of that.
See, Shannon has always had a real love affair with carbs and, unfortunately, an equal distaste for most meats. The huge majority of her daily intake is made up of carbs and fats — baked goods, cereals, pasta — and very little protein.
I had to be honest. I told her I could certainly design a plan that would build lean muscle mass— which is really good for humans for about a million reasons — but I really didn’t think the weight-loss goal would be achieved.
She (perhaps like many of you) was surprised. “But I thought… you exercise, you lose weight!”
So here’s the deal.
Yes, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories get burned to feed that muscle (all day long!), so certainly the right kind of exercise plays a role in weight loss. But if your diet is keeping your metabolism in a fat-storing state, as Patty’s diet does, losing weight will be a real uphill battle — even with the exercise.
So the next logical question is, Which is more impacting on weight loss — diet or exercise? The answer surprises a lot of people.
Here’s how I have come to think about it. While you should of course do both, if for some reason you could only do one or the other, diet will always win out for weight loss. If you exercise like crazy, while eating a diet that promotes fat-storage, you will probably lose some weight (although many people do not).
However, if you did no exercise at all, but changed your diet to a primal one that keeps your metabolism in a fat-burning state, you would lose considerably more weight than the other scenario (not to mention you’d be healthier).
This is why many exercise fanatics are so often confused at how little weight they lose (and often gain!). The bigger influence on weight is your diet, not exercise.
You should exercise. Just get the right diet in place first.