Food versus Exercise


I find it quite interesting how many more posts based on food greatly out-number the posts on exercise on this ketogenicforums site.

During my entire life, it’s been a constant “education” of “diet and exercise”…equal weight on both subjects. This confused me profusely, as I grew up in North America, however, my family origins are from Italy. I noticed the North Americans were obsessed with going to the gym, while my European family didn’t even bother even contemplating such a bizarre notion. The North American side of the family overweight…and of course, the European side thin and healthy.

I have had a myfitnesspal account for several years, and I notice equal discussing food and exercise in the members posting.

I remember how I used to spend hours each week, logging my food and exercise in myfitnesspal, and with frustration lose zero pounds. Thank goodness I discovered keto. I no longer waste time doing that. Today, I just log on to myfitnesspal just to read the insane postings…remind myself of the world I used to belong to and that used to deprive me of my health success.

Food is more important than exercise. I’m not saying exercise is not important…but, for me, the food is the foundation that is needed to build the house of health. I cannot exercise away a bad diet. It has to start with the right food. I’m thankful I re-learned what my European family knew all along.

(Kathy L) #2

Yes-food IS more important than exercise!

(Guardian of the bacon) #3

You can’t outrun a bad diet.


@jfricke, yep I agree with you. Unfortunately I had to learn this the hard way!!

(Guardian of the bacon) #5

Exercise is still good for the body in many ways. Just not great as a weight loss tool.

(Jamie Hayes) #6


Food and exercise do different things. I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 30 years, with the last 15 years focussing on weight loss.

I used to believe “Exercise leads to weight loss” and it’s a common myth that’s made overweight people feel guilty and waste time on ineffective exercise. It’s also been used by health authorities “Parents you need to get your overweight kids outdoors exercising.” All CICO (calories in calories out) nonsense.

What I’ve learnt is the opposite “Weight loss leads to exercise.” If through the right diet for your body, one loses excess weight and changes nutrient partitioning, giving access to your own stored (trapped) bodyfat for energy, you’ll then feel like exercising or being more physically active.

But on the side of exercise, today, in 2017, most of us are information workers, earning our living from our necks up. With the lack of physical activity, we suffer sarcopenia (loss of muscle and strength), which affects blood sugar management and muscular-skeletal health. This is where the right kind of exercise (especially strength exercise) done correctly can have huge health benefits.

Finally, the Jan/Feb issue of Scientific American Mind has a lead story on exercise as a cure for depression.

(Allan Misner) #7

Full disclosure, I am a personal trainer…

Both matter.

Food matters for basic health. Your body is built by and on what you put in it. If you don’t feed your body well, it won’t be well.

That said… If you don’t move, you will die early. If you don’t do resistance training, you will dwindle.

So, health really is both. MFP is not the best of places, but I can say being balanced in food and fitness is.

(Guardian of the bacon) #9

The “edit pencil” is in the bottom right corner of your response post by the reply button.


I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever lost weight so effortlessly and (so far) been able to keep it off even when not working out consistently. Calories don’t seem to matter. I’m not a numbers nerd so I can’t quote the data but I don’t count them any more. I watch my macros. Under 15g/Carb under 100g/Protein and Fat to satiation (Cheese, bacon, butter, Coconut Oil, Avocado etc.). And even when I overindulge (this holiday season!) I was able to jump back on the band wagon and continue the progress.

Also in terms of fitness it seem that the latest theory on exercise is that high intensity strength training is best as its shown to increase mitochondrial density.


Not sure I fully agree. Perhaps it’s what we are considering as “exercise”.

I don’t go to the gym. I enjoy the occasional bike ride (not this winter month, but in a couple of months, I will enjoy bike rides on weekends). I take 15 to 30 minute walks daily (to accomplish chores). I take stairs instead of escalators. But, that’s about it…unless you want to count household chores like vacuuming and laundry.

Before keto, I would tear my knees out at the gym, and get no where. Seriously! GET NO WHERE! The gym trainers were useless. I got lectured to with BS advice, eat low fat…blah blah blah…CICO…blah blah blah…work hard each day at the gym, don’t be lazy…blah blah blah…

With keto, I feel I am getting stronger and fitter each day. I have loads of energy. No longer need that coffee in the afternoon to stay awake. I’m energized all day!! I can go for a bike ride on the weekends for hours and totally enjoy it. When I exercise, it’s for fun, not dragging my butt to a routinized punishment designed by a trainer. And I don’t have a gym membership…Yay!!!


Just quoting for truth, in my experience at least. It wasn’t even my intention. I have other reasons.


I’ve exercised hours every day and not lost weight. For me, diet is the only thing that matters for weight loss. Exercise, especially hiking, is totally crucial for my mental and cardiovascular health so it’s still an important part of my life.

(Carol Hawkins) #14

All 2015 I was training for a running race series (5K, 10K, half & full on consecutive days). Despite all my training, I didn’t lose a pound. Then, weeks after the race I went keto and the weight started flying off despite my not running (I got burned out for a bit).

Now that I’ve lost 50 pounds, I’m running again and really enjoying it. For me, diet was much more important for weight loss, but exercise is fun now :running_woman:

(Larry Lustig) #15

Diet for health.

Exercise for fitness.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #16

THIS!!! So much this!!!

(Juha) #17

My experience has been that I need a good diet to stay healthy. The diet is the more important of the two, but also, exercise gives additional benefits and positive feelings. For me the best outcome physically, mentally and spiritually is a good diet and exercise. For me the best start for any day is a run outside in a forest, followed with a healthy breakfast that gives me energy till dinner time.

(Jamie Hayes) #18

I think we all agree that food and exercise have different roles, which are often confused.

One point I would like to make is the difference between “physical activity” and “exercise”. To make my point I’ll give them both definitions (my definitions of course).

Physical activity
Walking, cycling, gardening, sports, yard work, lower intensity activities in a gym etc…

Something that creates a tolerable stress on the muscles and/or cardio-vascular system that creates an adaptive response, telling your body to get stronger or fitter. A great example is a well-formulated progressive-overload strength training program.

It’s common for people to lump them all into the same category “exercise”.

Just because someone is going for a walk, they should not assume that it will have the same adaptive response as lifting weights (properly) will deliver.

Equally, just because someone goes to the gym and lifts weights, does not mean that they won’t benefit (physically, health and emotionally) from lower-intensity physical activities like walking their dog in the park or going to a dance.

Of course, you can replicate many gym exercises in a park (push ups, pull ups etc) and there’s a continuum between “physical activity” and “exercise”. It’s all good for you!


They are just starting to research myokines and how certain forms of exercises like HIIT activate them more than others. They send a multitude of signals throughout the body and tune you up where you need. Its pretty fascinating. There are benefits to all exercise though, the key is finding what you truly enjoy.

As far as weight loss goes, the petition that 200 Canadian doctors signed to propose changes to the dietary guidelines has a note about altering the current promotion of exercise. Stating that it is very ineffective compared to diet.


I am reading Mark Sissons book titled Primal Endurance, and he talks about increasing mitochondrial number and efficiency which speeds energy formation from ATP. The book talks about staying under an “aerobic” threshold to avoid stimulating sugar burning and use fat burning. The aerobic threshold requires careful monitoring to not exceed and go “anaerobic” because it should be pretty easy. He also talks about brief anaerobic work as you point out high intensity strength training, but the idea is to balance these work outs. The book is excellent, and I have not digested all the detail yet. Pun intended!


I’ll have to check that out. (So many good books to read!) I actually bough a heart monitor based on listening to his podcasts about that. The formula for ideal heart rate based on Dr. Phil Maffetone’s works is 180 minus age (The 180 Formula: Heart-rate monitoring for real aerobic training). It seems to help keep me in a more “comfortable zone” and I even have to slow down on occasion. It also makes my aerobic workout more enjoyable and less of a grind