I wish that I would have understood this question more when I was first starting out on my fitness journey. Is eating more important than working out? Yes. Some people might try to argue about this, but in this article, I will outline my reasoning.
Whether you are skinny and want to build muscle, or you are overweight and want to slim down, what you eat is going to be the most important part of your journey.
Speaking of journeys, let me explain what makes me qualified to write this article in the first place. As a high schooler and through college, I was 6’ 1” and 135 lbs. If you can’t picture what that looks like, just imagine a stick that your dog just picked up off the ground.
I tried everything from working out to eating what I thought was a lot of food. Nothing worked because I didn’t have a plan. Once I figured out a plan for myself, it worked beyond belief. And let’s just say I am no longer that stick that I was in high school and college.
In fact, in 4 years, I put on so much muscle that my wife told me it was too much and I had to slim down a bit. No worries, I just applied the principles in this post to my routine, and boom, I dropped 20 pounds in a few months.
Let’s take a further look at our question, is eating more important than working out?
Eating is the most important part of your direction
What you eat is going to determine whether you lose weight or gain weight. For me, I desperately wanted to gain weight, and I didn’t know where to start. And for those who want to lose weight and don’t know where to start, this is the section you should pay attention to.
Most people refuse to count calories. They see it as a restriction to their lifestyle. But to those people I ask, what is more restrictive, being out of shape or having to count calories.
Unfortunately too many people would rather stay out of shape and be able to do “whatever they want.”
I can promise you one thing. Once you start to know exactly what is going into your body, you are going to see massive results and be able to control those results.
Here is what I want you to do. Start by calculating your maintenance calories. These are your base calories that your body burns without you losing or gaining weight. This is also commonly referred to as TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).
Once you calculate your maintenance calories, then you can determine what you want to do next. Do you want to lose weight or gain muscle?
The next logical step is to eat your daily calories under for weight loss, or over for weight gain.
These 2 states are known as a caloric surplus and a caloric deficit. Choose the one that is going to work for you. A surplus will help you put on weight, and a deficit will help you lose fat.
What you eat matters less than you think
Is eating more important than working out? I have to ask the question, because by now we know that our total calories is what matters most to determine whether or not we will lose or gain weight.
But what I want you to understand, is that what you actually eat matters less than you think. The old school way of thinking would suggest that you needed to eat boiled chicken, sweet potatoes, and unseasoned broccoli.
That isn’t the case anymore. That was back when counting your calories was a big chore. As long as you know exactly how many calories you are eating, you can still lose fat or gain muscle.
Let me give you a good example. When I was cutting (a term for losing weight), I would plan out my meals for the week. Most of the time, I would prefer to eat perfect meals for breakfast and lunch and then have my pleasure meal for dinner.
One week, I felt like eating cheeseburgers, so here is what a day looked like for that week:
Breakfast – Protein Shake
Lunch – Grilled Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Snack – Beef Jerky
Dinner – Cheeseburger with Baked Potato Fries
This is one of the massive benefits of knowing every calorie you are putting into your body. You can plan for days like this, and still lose weight. Even though I was eating a cheeseburger, I was still under my calorie goal for the day.
Download an app like MyFitnessPal to track every calorie. Once you get the hang of it, it will be like second nature to track your calories. And from there, you can really dial in your goals.
Supercharge your journey with working out AND eating right
Ok, so we know that when you know what you are eating, you can make sure that you are either gaining weight, or losing weight. But what is going to ensure that we hit our goals? When we workout on top of our nutrition plan.
This doesn’t mean you should be working out every single day. It can be damaging to overtrain. It just means that you should be working out to supplement your goals.
For example, if I want to build muscle, my first step is going to be to eat at a caloric surplus every single day. My next step is going to be to do weight training 3-4 days per week. A good start would be our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass.
Your best option for workout plans and direction would be to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have FREE workout plans, over 100 exercises, 10 built-in HIIT workouts, the ability to create custom workout plans, and more!
Moving on to weight loss. If you want to lose weight, your first step is going to be eating at a caloric deficit every single day. Your next step is going to be working out 3-4 days per week. But you will find that your workouts for weight loss are different than for weight gain.
I prefer more of a hybrid approach to losing weight. You will want to do some weight training. But you will also want to do some high intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. Start with our best high intensity interval training workouts for beginners at home.
Eating is going to determine which road you are going to take, but working out is going to ensure that you make it there and look good during the process.
Main Point: Is eating more important than working out?
We now know the answer to our question. Is eating more important than working out? Yes, I do believe so. Because if you are not eating right, you are not going to hit your goals. If your body is not currently where you want it to be, that probably means that you aren’t eating right to begin with.
You need to make a change in your diet, and it begins with learning how to calculate your maintenance calories. Once you do that, then you will be able to determine what direction you want to go in.
Do you want to build muscle or do you want to lose fat? Remember, you have to choose one or the other first. We can’t forget that you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit, and you cannot lose fat in a caloric surplus.
We can always switch up our track later on. This is exactly what I did. I built up a ton of muscle, and then decided that I wanted to slim down a bit. Therefore I switched from a surplus to a deficit, and hit my goals.
Eating isn’t everything though. We must consider that while eating is 90% of the battle, we must workout in order to get the body shape that we are looking for. Working out accelerates your results, and there isn’t a scenario where you won’t be happy that you started working out.
So what do you think after reading this article? Is eating more important than working out? I would love to hear from you in the comment section.