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02 Aug, 2021
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diet & exercise

Alison’s Fitness & Wellness Corner – Diet & Exercise

Alison’s Fitness & Wellness Corner


diet & exercise
A large deficit and too much exercise can actually hinder weight loss, and not improve it.

Is your Diet the key to burning body fat or is Exercise the answer?

I came across an article years ago about diet and exercise. It was entitled “why exercise won’t make you thin.” To sum up the article without going into too much detail, it’s easier to create a large calorie deficit through your diet than by exercising. And that, at the end of the day, is what losing weight is all about.

A calorie deficit is created when your body burns more calories than you consume. To lose 1kg of fat per week, you need to create a deficit of 1,000 calories per day. So the question is, would you rather exercise for two hours or simply just not eat those calories in the first place.


If you are eating excessive amounts of calories then a large part of your time spent in the gym is a waste if your goal is to lose weight. Your diet is key to getting into great shape as it lays the platform for optimal weight loss.

People who don’t realise this, are the ones you see week in and week out, doing intense cardio sessions with little or no result.

Another mistake people often make in the gym, is to copy a workout routine of someone who is in great shape. Please note: The real reason that person is in great shape is because of their strict eating plan. True weight loss happens outside the gym when you eat well!

To get a true indication of what your daily calorie consumption should be you can use this general formula as a starting point. Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 12. For example, a woman who weighs 150lbs (68kg) would need around 1,800 calories per day. Then, based on the results, you can make adjustments as required. If losing weight, the average person should aim to lose 1-2 pounds (up to 1kg) a week.


Having worked out this equation, many people often try to accelerate weight and fat loss by increasing the amount of time spent in the gym, while reducing their daily calorie intake even further. However, there are some interesting hormonal issues that arise when people under-eat and over-exercise, which I’ve seen and personally experienced over the years, whereby a combination of large deficits and large amounts of activity can slow or completely stall fat loss. We have heard about the stress hormone cortisol, (which helps control blood sugar, regulate metabolism, water balance, blood pressure) which is released by the body in response to all kinds of stress. In the fitness and weight loss world cortisol has had an almost exclusively negative stigma attached to it, but the truth is it does play an important role.

Both exercising and dieting can generally be considered a stressor, which can lead to an increase in cortisol production, and the more extreme you go with each discipline the greater the stress imposed. When you are doing both of these activities in extremes on a daily basis your cortisol levels go through the roof.

The other issue with excessive exercise is that we tend to crave more food after the session. If we give in to these cravings then we simply undo all the hard work done in the gym by allowing our calorie intake to exceed our expenditure. This is a major reason why a large percentage of people who work hard in the gym get stuck at the same weight for long periods of time. Many people also like to ‘reward’ themselves after a good workout. The reason that since they have had a tough workout, they can ‘get away’ with eating more. Other people will exercise more to make up for eating too much. But this just perpetuates the ‘more with more’ mentality, which is a big mistake! Don’t fall into this trap as it never pays to eat more if you eat to lose fat!


Yes! If you were on a strict diet you could get lean without the need for exercise, but you would lose out on the toned and shapely physique, (I’ve not met anyone yet, who enjoys being flabby because either they’ve lost too much weight too quickly, or they’ve lost weight with no exercise) and you wouldn’t enjoy the benefits of increased health and vitality achieved through regular cardio and resistance training.

Many have said, “I don’t have the time to exercise”, my suggestion would then be, to keep your diet in check at all times and exercise as often as time and life allows. But the truth is if you have your diet right, you need not spend endless hours on the treadmill, (unless you’re specifically training for an event), all you need is 30 to 45 minutes to get a good workout in, and honestly, who can’t find that time for themselves minimum 3 times in a week.

At the end of the day, the equation is a simple one. Just keep creating that deficit with your diet, but don’t go to the extremes. If you do, you’ll quickly find that you lack the motivation to work out, you’ll be tired, grumpy, irritable, and worst of all, you won’t achieve the results you want.

80 – 90% of your results in terms of weight loss come from your diet. Even your health will deteriorate if you are not eating properly, and please remember, you WILL NEVER out-exercise a bad diet!!

Yours in fitness and wellness,


Alison's fitness
Alison Ngethe

Founder/Owner ~ Body by Alison Caroline and Alison Caroline Institute

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