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Is diet or exercise best for weight management?

With the growing number of people who are classified as obese or overweight it is no wonder weight loss is such a popular topic. While there have been many attempts to develop a “magic pill” to lose weight, the simple tried and trusted methods of exercise and diet modification always prevail as the best methods.

Recently there has been a lot of focus on the importance of diet in the weight loss equation. As a result people are paying more attention to sugar, gluten and protein. In fact diet is such a large focus for many people that there are often claims that changes to diet alone are all that is needed for weight changes. But when it comes to weight loss are diet and exercise equal?

The answer is yes and no. Take the results of a recent study that looked at the effects of identical caloric reductions in people assigned to one of three groups; a control group who kept their intake constant , a diet only group who reduced their calories by 25% or a mixed group that reduced their caloric intake by 12.5% and increased their expenditure by 12.5% which gave them an identical calorie deficit of 25%. The results of the study showed that both intervention groups reduced their body weight by the same amount – roughly 10% of their body weight. 

However when looking into the study results further, the group that combined diet and exercise also had some other impressive changes. This group also demonstrated reductions in LDL cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure while also showing improvements in insulin  sensitivity. All of these are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Taking these changes into account, the important question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the weight loss? In most instances the answer to this question involves health improvement. If this is the case then the most effective approach involves both diet and exercise.

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