• Health & Wellness

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Which is better for losing weight – diet or exercise?

Medically reviewed by Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., M.S.
You're ready to drop some pounds and get your body ready for the beach. But what's the best way to lose those pounds: exercising or starting a diet? Dr. Donald Hensrud, who heads up the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and is the author of the Mayo Clinic Diet Book, says it's a trick question.
Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:58) is in the downloads. Read the script. "When you look at the influence of diet versus physical activity, it's very interesting," Dr. Hensrud says. That's because diet and exercise can play different roles. "For weight loss, diet seems to be more effective than physical activity," he says. "You have to do huge amounts of physical activity to lose weight, but you can get a better energy deficit just by cutting down on calories." But, once you get your beach body, to keep the weight off, Dr. Hensrud says exercise is much more effective. "So both diet and physical activity are important," he says. "Diet probably more important for losing weight. Physical activity for keeping it off." But it certainly never hurts to focus on diet and exercise at the same time.