Diet Versus Exercise - What's the Best Way to Lose Weight?
The key to losing weight may seem like common knowledge - diet and exercise. Experts may not agree on the dynamics but one thing they consent to is that the right balance between the two is what really matters.
Dieting alone would not achieve the desired results; similarly, exercise that is not facilitated with the right balance of nutrients may be futile.
It’s important to understand how the body utilizes and stores calories. A certain amount of calories is needed by the body to sustain life, thus, this is the energy expended daily through various activities, or even at rest - basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Any type of body movement is some kind of physical activity, and the body needs to expend energy for that activity. The amount of energy used in such ‘normal’ activity is factored into the basal metabolic rate, and is expressed in terms of daily energy expenditure.
New research has concurred with earlier studies that changes in diet, specifically, limiting fat intake, leads to more weight loss than exercise alterations. However, the study also reveals that changes in one type of activity promotes changes in the other, particularly in women.
A number of different studies have also compared changes in weight resulting from altering diet versus increasing physical activity. Many times, healthy weight loss during dietary change programs showed 2 to 3 times more weight lost than when the focus was on physical activity.
Having noted that, it’s worth remembering that when it comes to health, long-term results is what counts. In one follow up of the above studies, it was observed that the participants from the two categories had no significant differences in weight, one year after completion of the trial programs.
This raises a crucial point: is it easier to sustain changes in physical activity than changes in diet? The answer, obviously, almost certainly depends on personal inclinations, i.e. how pleasant or unpleasant were the dietary changes or the attempted exercise routine.
Limiting calories does not mean dieting
To gain weight, you must be consuming more calories in food and drink than your body expends. Thus, losing weight necessitates a shift of that balance such that more calories are expended than are consumed. Eating less calories, burning more, or both, can tilt the balance in your favor. When you have to cut calories, you don’t necessarily have to go on some kind of diet.
It may simply mean checking your consumption of high caloric foods, such as sweetened drinks and foods, fatty foods, alcohol among others. A balanced, low-calorie diet would include smaller portions of calorie-laden foods and larger servings of low-calorie foods to fill up, for instance fruits and vegetables.
Exercise and calories (men and women compared)
A study by the University of Minnesota found that overweight and obese men and women showed noticeable weight loss when moderate to sizable cuts in dietary fat were made, irrespective of any changes in physical activity.
Women participants showed no significant fast weight loss without cutting fat consumption, even with increased amount of physical activity. Men, on the other hand, achieved weight loss through increased physical activity alone.
Various inferences may be made from this: either men burn more calories through physical activity than women, or it is a result of metabolic differences in women and men, or there was a problem with the study’s capability to accurately monitor changes.