What is the fastest route to losing weight? (Diet vs. exercise)

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    Looking for the best way to lose weight? Should diet be emphasized or can the solution be found in the gym? We launch the science of one against the science of the other in an attempt to discover it.
    Is diet the best way to lose weight?
    In the red corner of the fight for the title of weight loss, sits the diet contender. On the surface, diets seem to have an advantage, because no matter the genetic makeup and metabolism of a person, anyone who stops eating is guaranteed to lose weight.

    However, starvation is not a recommended or sustainable diet option.

    So, should it be low in fat, low in carbohydrates, high in protein, low in GI, small meals or any of the many other popular diet approaches?

    The scientific jury is now firmly involved, with dozens of high-quality randomized controlled trials demonstrating that no diet option is the magic solution for everyone.

    In addition to some short-term successes for particular approaches, mostly low-carb diets, all popular diet approaches have a low performance for weight loss and adherence once the six-month milestone has passed.

    This was demonstrated in one of the largest and longest lasting weight loss studies ever conducted, which investigated how diets with different fat, protein and carbohydrate content influenced weight loss.

    More than 800 overweight adults participated in the study that lasted two years. Each person was randomly assigned to one of four different diets ranging from high carb / low fat to low carb / high fat.

    After six months, the average weight loss was 7% of the initial body weight, with negligible differences between the diets. As expected, much of this lost weight was recovered, and only half of the respondents maintained their new weight for two years.

    As the study progressed, the differences in the nutrient mix between the dietary groups became smaller, as fewer people reached their dietary goals for fat or carbohydrate intake.

    If the participants in this research study found it difficult to follow a diet, despite expert advice and continuous monitoring and support, the chances of success in the "real world" are even more remote.

    The increase in obesity rates compared to the best-selling diet plans for best selling attest to that.

    The significant number of clinical trials clearly and conclusively shows that the composition of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the diet is unimportant to achieve weight loss.

    Is exercise the best way to lose weight?
    So, what about the contender in the blue corner: exercise?

    Exercise has a modest, but constant benefit in reducing body fat. And this benefit is independent of the diet.

    But the benefit of exercise in losing weight may not be as good as we might have expected. For people who are already overweight, even 60 minutes of physical activity per day may not be enough to stop weight gain.

    A recent high-quality study, which looked at people's ability to hold on to weight loss, found that 12 months after a weight-loss program ended, people who performed more than 90 minutes of physical activity each day they lost control. more weight.

    If you start to sweat thinking about so much activity, do not worry. What it really means is that more attention must be paid to the food side of the energy balance equation.

    Here is a simple example of the differences between eating and exercising. A 100 g chocolate bar can be eaten easily in less than a minute.

    The amount of energy in that bar, 2200 kJ, would be enough to feed the body of a sedentary office worker for about five hours without the need for another food. Or you can try a 7-km or 90-minute walk to burn the energy of the chocolate bar.

    Therefore, making some concerted changes on the "input" side of the energy balance equation can yield great benefits for weight loss.

    However, the literature on weight loss is a minefield for diets that result in low adherence and weight rebound. So, instead, let's look at those who have succeeded in losing weight and maintaining it.

    Successful long-term "weight losers" make a conscious effort to adopt at least one weight loss strategy from the following list:

    ↑ fruits and vegetables
    ↑ exercise
    ↓ kilojoules
    ↓ fat
    ↓ sweets and junk food
    ↓ portion sizes
    ↓ total amount of food
    It is not surprising that all these behavioral changes are consistent with the current recommendations of nutrition and health professionals for safe and appropriate weight loss.

    So, what is better? Diet or exercise? Surprise, surprise: the answer is somewhere in between.

    For most people, diet is not the way to achieve long-term weight loss. And going to the gym only seems to work only for the most dedicated souls. Small, lifelike lifestyle changes will always be the best recipe for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.