Diet means nothing if you’re not also doing this

According to research, participants that effectively kept weight off for a year owed their success much more to high levels of physical activity than diet.

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A new study recently published in the March edition of the journal Obesity might repudiate the old maxim that declares the formula for maintaining a healthy weight to be 80% diet and 20% exercise.

According to researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, participants that effectively kept weight off for a year, owed their success much more to high levels of physical activity than restrictions of dietary intake.


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The circumstances of the study

The researchers were motivated by the universal struggle many dieters face to keep off weight in the long term.  Danielle Ostendorf, the study’s lead author expounds by saying, “By providing evidence that a group of successful weight-loss maintainers engages in high levels of physical activity to prevent weight regain—rather than chronically restricting their energy intake—is a step forward to clarifying the relationship between exercise and weight-loss maintenance.”

To better identify the specifics of their hypothesis, the researchers started with a group of “weight-loss maintainers” and compared them to a control group composed of obese and overweight individuals and a group of participants with BMIs similar to their own.

The weight-loss maintainers and the individuals with similar BMIs had body mass indexes around 68 kg compared to the group of overweight individuals that had BMIs around 97kg.

A collection of urine samples over the course of one to two weeks revealed each individuals energy expenditure and intake. In addition to this, the experts measured the resting metabolic rate of each participant to distinguish daily energy expenditure  derived from physical activity versus resting

The findings

Interestingly enough, the daily amount of calories consumed and burned by the weight-loss maintainers was about 300 calories more than those with normal BMIs but not significantly more than the overweight control group.

Obviously, the number of calories burned due to physical activity was much higher amongst weight loss maintainers (by about 180 to be exact) compared to both the control group and the individuals with similar BMIs.

Researcher Victoria A. Catenacci punctuates by saying, “Our findings suggest that this group of successful weight-loss maintainers are consuming a similar number of calories per day as individuals with overweight and obesity but appear to avoid weight regain by compensating for this with high levels of physical activity,”

Does this mean we can eat whatever we want if we exercise?

Well no, unfortunately.

While the study confirms the overall importance of physical activity when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, staying true to fitness goals is still a complex process.

It’s true that intense physical activity will help you burn unwanted calories, but achieving weight loss goals isn’t only about calorie intake. You also have to be fueled by the kind of foods that will enable you to engage in consistent physical activity.

DailyBurn  recommends a combination of carbohydrates and protein after a workout, and eating some carbohydrates before exercising.

To keep unwanted pounds away for good, adhere to a balanced diet and introduce a sufficient amount of exercise into your schedule.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.