For Dieting, Meal Improvement Rather than Exercise


  1. Little benefit of expended calories
  2. Improving diet is more important
     (1) Deceived by hype
     (2) When proposing exercise, always provide meal coaching, too
    The bottom line

Please read Is Exercise Really Necessary to Lose Weight?, first.

In the above article, we considered how exercise can really help people lose weight, but let's explore that in more detail.

1. Little benefit of expended calories

"A 250-pound man will burn three extra calories (kcal)climbing one flight of stairs, as Louis Newburgh of the University of Michigan calculated in 1942.

“He will have to climb twenty flights of stairs to rid himself of the energy contained in one slice of bread!” 

So why not skip the stairs and skip the bread and call it a day?

After all, what are the chances that if a 250-pounder does climb twenty extra flights a day he won't eat the equivalent of an extra slice of bread before the day is done?"
(Gary Taubes. Why We Get Fat. New York: Anchor Books, 2011, Page 48.)

"Other experts took to arguing that we could lose weight by weightlifting or resistance training rather than the kind of aerobic activity, like running, that was aimed purely at increasing our expenditure of calories.

The idea here was that we could build muscle and lose fat, and so we'd be fitter even if our weight remained constant, because of the trade-off. Then the extra muscle would contribute to maintaining the fat loss, because it would burn off more calories—muscle being more metabolically active than fat.

resistance training

To make this argument, though, these experts invariably ignored the actual numbers, because they, too, are unimpressive.

If we replace five pounds of fat with five pounds of muscle, which is a significant achievement for most adults, we will increase our energy expenditure by two dozen calories(kcal) a day. 

Once again, we're talking about the caloric equivalent of a quarter-slice of bread, with no guarantee that we won't be two-dozen-calories-a-day hungrier because of this.

And once again we're back to the notion that it might be easier just to skip both the bread and the weightlifting."
(Taubes. Why We Get Fat. Pages 54-5.)

2. Improving diet is more important

Walking, jogging, and other forms of exercise are undoubtedly necessary for the prevention of chronic diseases, and for mental and physical health, but as we reviewed in detail in section[1] above, they are not that effective in terms of caloric expenditure.
I suspect that t
hose who say that they have lost weight through exercise are doing so through a set of dietary improvements (such as balanced diet and how often they eat, etc.)

There is a book written by a Japanese exercise specialist, Takuro Mori, on this subject, and I would like to dive deeply into this:
Sports coach declares. For dieting, exercise should be ten percent and meals should be ninety percent 

Mr. Mori worked in a fitness club for five years, and though he is a sports coach, he says it’s impossible to lose weight only with exercise.

(1) Deceived by hype

“As an exercise instructor, I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of clients. However, what I saw there were long-time club members who had not gotten slim, and moreover, some staff who had not lost weight despite the fact that they worked as coaches in a sports club.(*snip*) 

The key to successful dieting is mostly the improvement of diet and the mentality to support it. 

As for exercise, I believe that it is very small in comparison to those two factors, and if we can manage to improve diet and mentality, we can get mostly good results, even if we omit the exercise guidance.

It is also true that I was deceived by various diet-related hype and believed, unknowingly, that anyone could lose weight with effective exercise....(omitted) 

That is just an advertisement, so it is natural that it is an exaggeration to attract customers. Because of that, it’s manipulating people’s general perception.”

(2)When proposing exercise, always provide meal coaching, too

Through my past exercise and diet coaching, I have become acutely aware that most people actually do not achieve results with only exercise. As I interacted with many clients, I began to see a trend in those who failed to achieve results.
They all had problems in their eating habits such as they kept eating what they liked or didn’t want to change their eating habit.

Considering the body's mechanism for losing weight, there is no more effective way to lose weight than by controlling diet, and the appropriate approach is to add the necessary amount of exercise to it.

If you pick up any diet book on the street, you will find that most of them refer to diet, even if they explain a particular exercise regimen.

Successful dieters lose weight by improving their diet (eating a balanced diet and eating more often, etc.), not by exercising. (*snip*)

It is necessary to understand the basic premise that exercise creates a beautiful body style, and if you want to lose weight and size, you must improve your diet and other aspects of your life."[1]


This is what I wanted to tell you, but I had to quote an exercise expert because he is more convincing.

Diet books that claim, "you can lose weight with exercise," always mention improving your diet. 
The trend these days seems to be changing to eating fewer carbohydrates, and eating more protein (meat, eggs, etc.), vegetables, dairy products, etc., while exercising. 

You might think that exercise has contributed significantly to your weight loss since you lost weight by eating enough, but you would be mistaken.

It may be better to think that changing your eating habits can actually help you reduce weight and size, and that exercise is more about building a lean, toned body while you lose weight.

[1]Takuro Mori. For dieting, exercise should be ten percent and meal should be ninety percent (森 拓郎,「ダイエットは運動1割、食事9割」). 2013. 

The bottom line

(1) Calories burned in exercise are not that many . Those who exercise but do not get results from dieting often have some problem with their eating habits, such as wanting to lose weight while eating what they like.

(2) To lose weight, it is more effective to review one's daily eating habits. Reducing carbohydrate intake to some extent and increasing protein, fat, dairy products, and vegetables can be helpful.
On the other hand,
 exercise helps to improve overall health, maintain muscle strength, and build a toned body.

(3) The reason exercise is not fundamentally helpful for weight loss is because the relationship between diet, exercise, and weight is misunderstood.

[Related article]   Misunderstanding of the Relationship Between Diet, Exercise and Body Weight