Thinking about losing some weight? You’ve probably found tons of advice that suggests how to do that. Some of it might contradict the other pieces of advice. Those of you who are confused about what the best plan for weight loss is may want to consider what a recent study found. It turns out you need to focus on both exercise and diet together.
A Stanford study about weight gain and obesity was making the rounds on the internet recently. The lead author of the study was Dr. Uri Ladabaum, a Stanford gastroenterologist. In short, he describes the results as “its complicated”.
The study was published in the August issue for the American Journal of Medicine. It analyzed weight data and survey results for over 20,000 people. The data came from the years between 1988 and 2010. Participants were asked to self-report their caloric consumption. They also had to self-report the amount of exercise they were getting.
Over the years, the participants had both their body mass index and waist circumference recorded. They research showed that, as the years went on, the participants had both their body mass index and their waist circumference increase. It climbed “slowly but steadily”.
One thing to consider is that the participants were self-reporting how much they ate and how much exercise they were doing. It is possible they were not being accurate about it, either intentionally or accidentally. Even so, the key thing that the study found is that exercise matters when it comes to weight loss. One cannot do it by diet alone, and exercise alone is not enough.
The Stanford study also analyzed some data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It found that 43% of men reported getting no physical activity at all in the year 2010. They also learned that 52% of women did not get any physical activity that year. This is not good. The national guidelines call for 150 minutes a week of moderate activity.
Exercise is important not only for losing weight, but also for maintaining weight. Doctors note that people who have lost a lot of weight may not realize that they need to continue to exercise after they have hit their weight goal. People also can manage to lower their calorie intake during a diet, but then tend to forget about it after they lose some weight. As a result, they gain the weight back.
What’s the key thing to understand from this study? There are a few important points. One is that you cannot expect exercise to “fix” a diet of bad food (or too much food). The other is that you cannot expect that diet alone is the way to lose weight and keep it off. Both exercise and diet control are needed.
Image by Start Diet Today on Flickr.