Do I Diet or Exercise?

January 20, 2018

New Year’s resolutions will likely be in the forefront of your mind over the next few months. And while we often don’t follow through with every resolution, starting afresh at the beginning of the year is a great way to eliminate the frustrations that we’ve had in our weight loss journey thus far. It also allows us to look forward to new and exciting developments and possibilities in the new year. Many of our patients cite a desire to improve their diet and exercise regimens as the most important New Year’s resolution. And with that, many of you may wonder if it is better to focus on diet or exercise. The answer is both, for different reasons.

Dieting for Quick Calorie Avoidance

Dieting is an important tool in the weight loss process and the cornerstone of any post-bariatric surgery plan. Dieting, in fact, is the quickest way to lose weight. Why? Avoiding calories is far easier than burning them off. We’ve all done it – we indulge in extra soda or a second piece of cake at holidays, restaurants or family gatherings thinking that we will burn off those calories with additional exercise later in the day.

However, that soda with, let’s say, 140 calories requires about half an hour of walking to burn. Clearly, it would be a lot easier just to push the soda can aside and avoid the calories altogether. Further, eating a healthy, wholesome diet simply makes you feel better. Avoiding many of the worst offenders such as foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat give us the energy and stamina to get through our day by avoiding sugar spikes. Avoiding sugary drinks and replacing them with water not only reduces calories, but also increases our ability to function during the day as hydration is key to your body’s responsiveness.

Exercising for long-term calorie burn

So, we’ve determined that diet is the quickest way to eliminate calories on a daily basis. However, just by being alive, you burn calories as well. Depending on your level of activity, the number of calories you burn will vary. Of course, greater physical strain will burn more calories in less time while a sedentary life will burn fewer calories. You even burn calories while you sleep. Regular exercise, however, offers a number benefits.

First, exercise builds muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, as you build muscle, you will naturally, even at rest, burn more calories than you would have before. This sets you up for longer-term calorie reduction.

Exercise is also critically important for circulatory and heart health. The heart is a muscle that needs exercise just like any other muscle in our bodies. If it doesn’t get the conditioning it needs, it can weaken, sometimes irreversibly and heart disease may be around the corner. Of course, heart disease contributes to the inability to perform many of the tasks we need to stay healthy – a vicious cycle.

Exercise also releases endorphins that fight stress. Stress is a leading causes of overeating and there is no shortage of stress in our modern day life. Exercise of any kind can help rebalance our bodies and minds and keep the calories at bay.

Ultimately, diet and exercise work in harmony to allow for both short and long-term weight loss, disease improvement and overall good health. It is important that postsurgical patients understand how each of these methods function to make sure that their weight loss is both healthy and sustainable. If you ever have questions about your diet or exercise progression, we encourage you to attend our monthly support group.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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