People looking to lose those extra pounds have been told for decades that dieting together with exercise will bring about the best results.
Not so, says new research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, which reveals that dieting alone is as effective as dieting plus exercise. The key is in the calories and the study shows that calories can be lost effectively by either dietary restrictions or exercise.
?For weight loss to occur, an individual needs to maintain a difference between the number of calories they consume everyday and the number of calories they burn through metabolism and physical activity,? says Leanne Redman, Ph.D., first author of the study and clinical research fellow at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. ?What we found was that it did not matter whether a reduction in calories was achieved through diet or burned everyday through exercise.?
The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial to examine the effects of diet alone or diet plus exercise in overweight but otherwise healthy study participants. The participants were divided into three groups. One group only reduced caloric intake. A second group reduced caloric intake by a smaller amount, but included exercise as part of their program, and a third set of participants served as a control group. They were all followed for a six-month period.
At the end of the study, the reduced caloric intake group and the group that combined a smaller amount of reduced calories with exercise had similar results. Members of both groups lost roughly 10 percent of their body weight, 24 percent of their fat mass and 27 percent of their abdominal visceral fat, which is fat buried deep in the abdomen and linked to heart disease risk.
The shape of a person?s body, as well as their body weight can be indicators of their risk for cardiovascular disease. Some studies have shown that people with ?apple shaped? bodies, or more fat distributed at the waistline may have a higher risk of heart disease than people with ?pear shaped? bodies, or more fat at the thigh or hips.