As I know that calorie deficit cause weight loss but achieving calorie deficiency we can maintain

  1. Eat less and exercise less: Let say consume 2200 cal and burn 2700 cal by exercise.
  2. Eat more and exercise more: Consume 3500 cal and burn 4000 cal

So which option is better for effective weight loss.

  • 3
    define "better". – Gunge Mar 14 '17 at 12:54
  • 1
    It's a very simple calculation. Energy input vs energy output. From that point of view, it doesn't matter which road you choose. However, having more muscle means you will burn more. On the other hand, if you're used to eating 4k kcal a day, you will still do so when you skip your monster training session. Choose wisely ;-) – Philipp Sep 10 '17 at 6:22

A mathematical model has been created to examine the relationship between diet and exercise with respect to weight loss; Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight.

The NIH has provided a web based tool based on this work to help you plan a diet to lose weight, the body weight planner.

Note that 60-80% of calories consumed is used by the basal metabolic rate, digestion 10% and exercise only accounts for about 10% - 30% which explains why it is so hard to lose weight through exercise. Furthermore, people compensate for exercise by eating more, or relaxing after the exercise which reduces any weight loss benefit from the added exercise.



If you had a magic wand to be able to regulate what you consumed and burned, and could effortlessly and consistently hit any numbers you chose, then the answer would be "either one, there is no difference." (Minor nit: see note 1.)

The difference is in your own compliance. Will you actually do the exercise plan you've set out for yourself? Will you actually be able to eat no more than the calories you've planned out? Some people are hungrier when they exercise more; others for whatever reason are not.

If your calorie reduction is coming from replacing sugared soda with water, and you're happy enough to drink water, you will probably not resist doing it. If your calorie reduction is coming from no longer having bedtime icecream, or no longer having a beer or two every night, it may be much harder to comply with. If your exercise increase is coming from joining some team or group activity that is fun, you may enjoy it a lot and look forward to doing it, and cheerfully have some sort of "treat" afterwards because you're burning so many more calories each day.

Without knowing the details of the two plans, and your own temperament, nobody can know which you would find easier to follow. But that is the one that will be better -- for you!! -- for effective weight loss.

[1] Once you start to build muscle from the exercise, your natural burn rate will go up a bit, as will your not-exercising-just-living activity level, making option 2 slightly better, all things being equal. But they're not equal, because the compliance factor outweighs everything else.

  • 4
    Says who? ;-) I agree with everything you said, but citations are generally expected here. – Carey Gregory Aug 15 '16 at 18:23
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    Also, there is actual evidence that when it comes to weight loss, limiting calories is the more important factor of the two; exercise has a much greater role in maintaining weight loss. I will look for the sources... Sustainability is the key though. – DoctorWhom Aug 11 '17 at 4:23
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    @DoctorWhom - Yes. I'll have to dig around on fitness a bit, but when I was researching for a question there, I found a few studies that compared all the typical diets (Paleo, South Beach, Keto, etc etc) and for sustainable weight loss, calorie restriction was king. I know it's there somewhere, I'll just have to find it. IIRC, calorie restriction and intermittent fasting (IF) also reduced aging biomarkers as well. – JohnP Jan 12 '18 at 21:05
  • Still waiting for citations.... – Carey Gregory Mar 14 '18 at 1:59

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