What’s more important for weight loss – diet or exercise?

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To lose weight you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit, which means you need to be burning more calories than you’re consuming. The easiest way to do this is to eat fewer calories and burn calories through exercise. But what’s more important for weight loss – diet or exercise? Express.co.uk chatted to triple Olympic short track speed skater and owner of Roar Fitness London, Sarah Lindsay, to find out.

What’s more important for weight loss – diet or exercise?

You may have heard that losing weight is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise or that “abs are made in the kitchen”, but neither of these statements are completely true.

Losing weight or achieving a body goal is 100 percent commitment to a plan which consists of exercise and a healthy, calorie-restricted diet.

In fact, Olympian and owner of Roar Fitness London Sarah Linsday claims both exercise and diet are as important as each other.

No matter how much you work out or how heavy the weights you lift are, you need to eat the right amount of calories to stay healthy.

Sarah said: “Diet is absolutely crucial. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, you need to eat for optimal health and you should never compromise that.”

Optimal health is your complete physical, emotional and relational wellbeing and you need to eat in order to maintain the best bodyweight for your height and age and have a respectful and healthy relationship with food.

Sarah added: “Being healthy for me just means being free from disease, it’s not being ill.

“You can be fit and unhealthy, or there are aspects that can be unhealthy even if you’re fit.

“If I compare myself now to when I was an athlete, the way that we trained, the volume of work that we did and how hard we pushed ourselves wasn’t particularly healthy.

“Although I was supremely fit and strong, I think my immune system was always compromised and always battling being ill, fighting off cold, swollen glands and things like that.

Sarah added: “I like to be fit and strong and the benefits that come from that are a little bit different from just not being ill.

“Being active and taking steps is very important. Working out and making sure that you’re always moving plays a huge role in not stiffening up and making sure that your heart and lungs are healthy.

“Of course, this can all impact how much body fat you carry as well… but there’s a big difference between being healthy and fit.”

Optimal health is finding a happy medium and being able to exercise, train, be strong and be as healthy as possible all-round and that will contribute to longevity.

So how do you know if you’re eating for optimal health?

Well, a lot of this comes down to how you feel.

Sarah noted: “Look at how often you get sick, how much energy you have, do you sleep well, do you wake up in the morning with an appetite and wanting to exercise, or do you feel like you need a nap in the middle of the day?

“That’s the basics but that’s also where strength comes into it because when you’re strong and fit everyday life is easier.

“Everything you do becomes easier the stronger you are.”

Eating for optimal health is the basics, but when you throw exercise into the mix you need to work out how to eat to support this exercise and change your body.

Sarah said: “Once you start exercising you have to eat to perform in your training sessions and eat to recover from your training sessions.

“You also need to bear in mind whatever the end goal is. If you’re trying to get lean, for example, you also need to eat in deficit.

“For the results that we’re known for at Roar Fitness London, if you want to do your best, you need to commit to both sides of it.”

In short, food and working out complement each other and have to work together.

Sarah said: “They complement each other, they have to work together! They have to match up.

“You can’t just do more and more exercise and eat less and less food. You can’t jog all day and eat less food. That’s not the way to be.

“There are lots of options out there and you can learn and educate yourself!

“You have to source the best information you can or get a personal trainer to help you because the more you know about this, the more likely you are to make better decisions.”

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