Lifestyle, Nutrition and Exercise Are All More Important Than Each Other
Updated: Jun 20
Most coaches or fitness gurus will tell you that nutrition is the most important factor for fat loss. Some will even try to argue that enough intense exercise can outweigh bad dietary habits. Very few will stress the importance of better lifestyle choices, such as more sleep and less stress.
The truth is that lifestyle habits, nutrition and exercise are all equally essential in attempting to lose body fat. They are the “holy trinity” of weight loss, and depending on the person, each characteristic is more important than the others are.
The best way to illustrate this point is through a couple examples:
Client #1 is a fitness addict and self-proclaimed health guru. They religiously attend CrossFit classes five to six days a week, practice daily intermittent fasting, and take all the “necessary” supplements they can get their hands on.
Despite this client’s consistency in their diet and exercise routine, they are not losing body fat.
The problem is that they regularly sleep less than six hours a night and work at a highly stressful job. In this client’s case, nutrition is not “80% of the equation” and they do not need to “go harder” in the gym.
Answer: They need to sleep more and stress less. Lifestyle habits are holding this person back from their weight loss goals.
In fact, their poor sleep and stress management are actually causing their diet and exercise to cause more harm than help. Fasting and high intensity training are added stressors to their body. For Client #1, their lifestyle is necessitating a change in their diet and exercise regimen.
Client #2 is a perfect example of the adage, “You can’t out train a bad diet”. This client goes to Gold’s Gym three days a week for weight training and three days a week to Orange Theory for cardio.
They are also a laid-back individual and do not usually allow stressors to become chronic issues in their life. However, despite their high volume training, they have been substantially reducing their caloric intake for months in hopes of losing more weight.
After initially losing some body fat, Client #2 experienced a sudden stall in their progress. In fact, they started to gain some of the weight back that they had lost even though they keep eating gradually less calories.
Similar to Client #1, the answer to this client’s inability to lose fat does not include more exercise. The human body is smart. “Famine” or under-eating is a stressor that will cause your body to slow its’ metabolism and store body fat in order to conserve energy. Client #2 needs to eat more food, and in the meantime, they need to exercise less.
Lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise do not operate in isolation from one another. Neglecting one will inevitably require a change in the others.
If you are struggling to lose stubborn body fat, try working with a coach who has the knowledge to take a holistic approach to your health. Your body is a lot more complex than “train more, eat less”.