Per the poll a while ago, random musings on exercise vs. food was one of the high-ranking elected topics.
Honestly, folks, I got a little stuck on this one.* Apparently, I felt two ways about this enough that when I went back to try and finish this post, I discovered my Past Self (she’s more reliable than me) had started not one but TWO drafts of this post. One titled, ‘Food vs. Exercise: Which one wins?’ and the other titled, ‘Exercise vs. Food: Which one wins?’ These were spaced just four days apart. Hmm.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified dietition or personal trainer, only a meticulous person who tends to over/extra-analyze things.
Exhibit A: Bored Panda: What 200 Calories Looks Like
Remember that meme that went around the Internet a couple years ago? I think it was this one, or one like it. It features photos of the same-sized plate, loaded up with different things that are 200 calories. Such contrast, from 2 tablespoons of butter to a giant plate of celery, to an avocado. It seems clear from this wide variation, that it’s much easier to eat a wide variety of calories than the burn off those same calories through exercise.
Exhibit B: Real Simple: Diet or Exercise?
If you want to weigh less, focus on diet. If you want to feel better, increase energy, and other great quality of life factors, do both but focus on exercise. One motivation for me to exercise is certainly so I can eat a bigger variety of delicious foods, but I fully admit I’m always struggling a bit on the diet side, which doesn’t feel like a pressingly urgent need to fix at present. Novelty and rich food is just so delicious, and when 3 days of 7 in the week are weekend-style eating, it can be a bit much. Also, the more I exercise, the hungrier I get. What a conundrum. Note: a convenient limiting factor in food for me is that I eat slow, and also I tend to notice the next day if I have eaten badly, so it deters me from eating badly extra frequently.
Exhibit C: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) on the benefits of exercise.
Recent awkwardly-phrased statements on alcohol, women, and pregnancy in the news aside, the authority of the CDC states that exercise reduces all kinds of risk for poorer health.