Diet trumps exercise in battle of the bulge

THINK you can outrun an all-you-can-eat diet?

Unless you're an elite athlete, think again.

An expert weighing in on the diet versus exercise debate says eating sensibly will be more effective for the average Aussie than slogging it out on the treadmill to slim down.

CQUniversity physical activity and health researcher Professor Corneel Vandelanotte said diet and exercise were important parts of the weight loss equation but overall, diet played a bigger role.

Prof Vandelanotte said people needed to consider the effort required to burn off excess calories.

"I can eat a whole packet of Tim Tams in 10 minutes and that's 1000 calories,” he said.

"If I want to work off that 1000 calories it's a lot of work.”

People often overestimate how much energy they burn during a workout, then there's the "reward” mindset that can sabotage efforts.

"A lot of people think they deserve an extra treat or beer because they have been active,” he said.

"It might actually offset their activity more than they have actually done.”

He advised people wanting to lose weight not to view exercise as a ticket to eat whatever they wanted.

"If you want to lose weight by being active it's a lot of work,” Prof Vandelanotte said.

"It's so easy to eat that Mars Bar but hard to work it off - you can't outrun your diet.”

However, Prof Vandelanotte said exercise was still essential and should go hand-in-hand with good nutrition.

"It's still very important to be active for a host of reasons,” he said.

His top tip is to choose a workout you enjoy.

"If you force yourself to do something you don't like you won't keep it up,” he said.

"Pick a sustainable diet and sustainable physical activity that you like doing.”

He said there were many confusing messages and myths about healthy eating so it was best to introduce small, sustainable changes.

"Lots of fruit and veg, not too much meat, no soft drink, fruit juices and fast food is obviously going to take you a long way,” he said.


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