Exercise Weight Loss Not Enough

For those who follow a healthy, balanced diet, simply adding an exercise plan can lead to weight loss. For those wishing to lose a significant amount of weight, however, exercise is often not enough on its own. When exercise isn’t enough, reducing calories and eating nutritious foods can help you reach your weight loss goals. Learn about the powerful combination of diet and exercise.

Calorie Intake vs. Calorie Expenditure

Calories are units of energy that you get from food and use to perform physical activity. Weight loss occurs when a person’s calorie use exceeds calorie intake. You can increase your calorie expenditure by doing various types of exercises.

If you consume more calories than necessary for your level of physical activity, your body stores these excess calories as fat. Engaging in exercises to burn more calories than you expend reduces these fat reserves in the body.

If you consume too many calories, you may fail to lose weight, even with an exercise plan. Knowing how to exercise effectively to burn off excess calories is a valuable weight loss tool. If significant weight loss is your goal, the most effective plan is a combination of diet and exercise.

How Diet Affects Energy Levels and Physical Performance

Aside from adding weight to your frame, an unhealthy diet can negatively affect an exercise plan in many ways: Diet affects your energy levels, your physical performance and how well you recover after working out. Here’s how to get the most of your diet while following your exercise plan:

  • Avoid “empty calorie” foods that are high in calories but low in healthy nutrients to ensure you have the energy to exercise effectively. Instead, choose fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Ensure you’re getting enough vitamin A, vitamin C and iron to keep energy levels and immune function high. Dark green vegetables–such as kale and broccoli–are a source of Vitamins A and C, while beans and lentils provide iron.
  • Get enough calcium to build strong bones, protecting you from injury. Add dairy, but don’t forget dark green vegetables and beans, which also provide calcium.
  • Get enough fiber. Fiber contributes to heart health, which improves cardiovascular performance when you do exercises. Whole-wheat breads and pastas are just a few foods that increase fiber in your diet.

How Diet and Exercise Promote Healthy Weight Loss

Healthy, long-term weight loss is best achieved through a combination of diet and exercise. The Mayo Clinic (2009) notes that reducing calories through a balanced diet is more effective than exercise at promoting weight loss, though regular exercises are an important factor in maintaining optimal health.

Learning how to exercise and eat in a balanced manner to control calorie intake and expenditure is key in sustained weight loss. Talk to your physician before beginning any new diet and exercise plan. Find a certified athletic trainer and registered dietitian to show you how to exercise and plan a diet to reach your goals.


Mayo Clinic. (2008). Fitting in fitness: Finding time for physical activity. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/HQ01217_D

Net Doctor. (2009). How to lose weight the healthy way. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/loseweight.htm

Nutrition.gov. (2008). Weight management. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.nutrition.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=11