I see it all the time. People go to the gym and kill themselves for an hour or more then as a reward to themselves they stop for ice cream on the way home. You might as well save yourself the time and money and just skip both. this is why weight loss = diet + exercise.
There have been several studies in the last few years stating that exercise isn’t effective for losing weight. Then came a flood of articles analyzing those studies and concluding that people’s body size is predestined (meaning if you are fat, then you are just meant to be fat). This obviously isn’t true. You only have to watch a season of “The Bigest Loser” to see that people can change their body types, and can make drastic changes with the help of exercise. Diet and exercise and weight loss are all connected.
The Studies weren’t wrong
The Studies didn’t get it wrong, they just had a very narrow focus.
The reason they got the results they did was because the only thing they were controlling for was exercise (and it was moderate exercise). The participants were asked to eat normally. The problem is that we tend to find a natural equilibrium. How many times have you said “If I could only make a bit more money I would be in good financial shape.” Then you change jobs, or get a raise and a few months later all that extra money is somehow all spoken for. The problem is having controlled income but not controlling spending doesn’t work. Just like having controlled exercise but no controlled diet doesn’t work.
is diet or exercise more important for weight loss?
The truth is that if you did the reverse study where you only controlled the diet program (a moderate calorie restriction) and left participants to decide their own activity level they would come up with the same results. Because you will get no weight loss with exercise and diet plans individually.
Maintaing weight can be achieved with exercise or diet
The good news is that this natural equilibrium can work in our favor once we reach our weight goal. Once you reach your goal you can cut your work in half. You can either use calorie restrictive diets to maintain weight, or you can exercise to maintain weight.