Salads or Sprints: If You Had to Choose, Is It Better to Eat Healthy or Exercise?

Everyone has a different way of “Staying Healthy”

In 2013, Peach Friedman, a senior at California College of the Arts almost got diagnosed with Exercise Bulimia. She thought of nothing but exercise, and eating under 800 calories each day. She ran 500 days in a row because she was so obsessed. She even wouldn’t go on a vacation because she was afraid there would be no place to workout. She went from being 5’9″ and 145 lbs to 100lbs says People.

It’s hard to Stay Fit

Everyone wants to look good. Whether people work to achieve that goal is up to them. For some people, it comes easily to them while others do not have a choice but to work for it. The problem with staying skinny is, working out is hard and there are too many good things to eat in the world. I have decided to see which is better, eating healthy and not working out, or eating unhealthy and working out a ton.

It’s hard to eat healthy. Especially if you’re busy. Everywhere you go, there is always unhealthy delicious food. Especially here in Elk River there isn’t really anything fun to do with healthy eating choices. Or, the healthy option is more expensive than the unhealthy one. Going to the movies, out to dinner, half price appetizers at Applebee’s, county fair, even at other people’s houses, you and your friends want the good stuff. But, diet is a crucial part of being healthy. According to this article by Real Simple, a lot of people only shed off 2-3% of their weight by working out and not watching their calories. If you watch your calories, that can help you lose weight if you are exercising. It would be even better if the quality of the food was good.

It’s also very hard to workout, especially if you are not in shape. On a busy schedule it’s hard to find enough time to burn off the amount of calories needed to lose weight. Also, sometimes you get sore and it’s hard to come back and work out again when everything hurts. A lot of people just do not have the motivation to keep going. It’s easy to watch shows like The Biggest Loser and just think that if you work out enough, you can maintain a fit body. It’s easy to envision yourself going to the gym 6 days a week and burning fat. It’s easy to plan out workouts and say, ‘Ok if I workout for 3 hours, I will burn 1000 calories’. It’s hard to actually get off your butt and do it.

For a lot of people, fruit and vegetables taste really good. But for others, they just don’t. For me, I don’t like a lot of things because of the texture of it. It makes me want to throw up. So obviously I’m not going to eat something that does not taste good to me.

Is it better to Eat Healthy?

After you exercise, you’re hungry and crave good things. It’s super hard to not just drive down the street and stop at your local McDonald’s and get fries and ice cream. Exercise is not going to do as much for you as it would if you combine it with healthy eating habits.

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From The New York Times, Aaron Carroll says, “When it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don’t eat is much, much more important.” They talk about how the show The Biggest Loser revolves around exercise and how that is not the most important part. Eating junk food is not going to do anything for you. Working out for a lot of people is really hard. It takes a lot of effort and commitment. In the article, it talks about how running or swimming for roughly a half hour burns around 350 calories. But, if you’re someone who eats unhealthy you could easily get rid of those calories by eliminating 2 sodas. It’s all about self and portion control.

In the article “Diet vs. Exercise: Which matters more?” , Eugenia Killoran states that “For staying slim and overall good health, both food and fitness are important. But science is now discovering that Americans are getting fatter largely because of what they choose to eat and drink.” In the article it talks about how her brother works out all the time but eats bad. He has gained more weight throughout the years and that is due to his choices of food. Part of eating healthy is portion control. Eating 5-6 smaller and healthier meals throughout the day keeps up your metabolism compared to 3 big meals. If one decides to count their calories, most people stay with their usual diet. According to the article , “the only way you can cut calories is to cut food. Half of a burger. Half a bag of fries. Six potato chips. A sip of Coke. But think about it. By paring our food down to small portions like this, most of us are pulling back from the table still hungry.”  If you eat vegetables and fruit, you can eat more, eating less calories but at the same time feeling full.

Or Work out?

An article by Thomas Hoffman states that working out is the most important part of staying fit. In his article he includes a statement by Pernille Nordby that says, “You should of course eat as healthily as possible, but if you have a lifestyle where it’s hard to find the energy to

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change your diet, you should know that it’s much healthier to spend your energy on physical activity rather than eating differently for the sake of losing weight [.]” For most people, this is good news. You can keep your unhealthy ways and still burn it off in the end. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of hard exercise to be able to lose weight and eat whatever you want. According to this article, exercise is so much better than changing your diet for keeping type 2 diabetes at bay.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise has a lot of benefits for your body and health. Such as, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some cancers. It can also help improve your mental health, mood and help you live longer.  For most, exercising is also about how it makes you feel, physically and mentally. A good mental attitude about yourself is what keeps you motivated to keep going. There are plenty of foods that are good for your health, but it is reassuring to know you are doing beneficial things for your body when you work out, not just lose weight.


Almost every article I have read states that diet is far more vital than working out. Working out is obviously still essential but you won’t get as far by just working out. What you put into your body is what you are going to get out of it. If you want to be the fittest you can be, eat as healthy as you can. If you can cut down on your unhealthy eating habits and exercise on top of that, just imagine how many less calories would be in your body each day. Both are important for a healthy lifestyle, but eating healthy is the most important for losing weight.



Post by JanineB

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