The debate about the relative importance of nutrition and exercise regarding men’s health was settled for some time. Until recently, people in a variety of health-related professions agreed that food was the primary factor contributing to obesity, diabetes, and general ill-health in the populations of many developed nations. They pointed to high levels of corn syrup, sodium, and other substances in foods as the culprits. The lack of exercise in many men’s sedentary lives was considered to be a secondary factor.
Recent studies suggest that exercise is more important in maintaining a healthy weight and preserving healthy body functions. Proponents of this view suggest that a man who spends all day at a desk job and all evening on the couch in front of the television will suffer from obesity unless he virtually starves. Given that so many processed foods are high in sugars and sodium, a man subsisting on these menu items would have to eat almost nothing to burn an adequate number of calories.
Weight Loss vs. Health
Not everyone is convinced by this argument. Many people still stand by the idea that what you eat has more impact on your weight and health than what you do. However, the issue suffers from an absolute lack of clarity because not everyone who is arguing is discussing the same matter. The question is one of health vs. weight.
If you are simply looking at weight loss, there are several studies that show that wise dietary choices are much more effective at lowering weight than any exercise regimen. In fact, such programs apparently bring about double or triple the weight loss results when compared to programs that focused entirely on exercise.
However, the real goal of most health professionals consulting men about their well-being is to bring about better health, not simply to lower weight. Indeed, most proponents of exercise over diet would point out that working out does not, in fact, lower weight greatly because that is neither the purpose nor the natural consequence of such a regimen. Exercise is meant to make you stronger and healthier, not lighter.
The best argument for exercise over diet concerns the inevitability of extra caloric intake. In other words, in a society that has food in such abundance, it is nearly impossible to avoid taking in considerably more calories than you need. If it were a matter of just a few calories, then a few brisk walks per week would solve weight gain problems. However, most men take in much more calories than they need, even when they eat right. Vigorous workout sessions can eliminate the discrepancy between the amount of food consumed and the minimum number of calories required to maintain weight and health.
No matter which element in a healthy lifestyle turns out to be the most important, the fact remains that any health professional will recommend that a man use both diet and exercise to maintain his well-being. Rarely will you meet someone who complements their strict exercise regimen with a diet of fast food and ice cream? At the same time, not too many dieters really achieve weight-loss success by sitting in front of the television starving.
Whoever turns out right in the battle between diet and exercise, the choice of balance will still remain up to the man trying to stay healthy. Someone who successfully limits their calorie intake to the required minimum does not need to participate in many exercises to keep fit. In fact, that could result in ill health without an increase in calories. At the same time, fans of exercise will always need to watch what they eat so that they get the right quantities of the nutrients that they need to repair body tissues after the workout.