Diet vs. Exercise
Remember that machine that was around in the ’60s—the one where you hooked a wide belt around your waist and the mechanism jiggled the belt, supposedly to shake off fat? How about the Beverly Hills Diet, where you ate nothing but fruit for almost two weeks and then used “combining” to keep certain foods from reacting with each other? Or how about any of a hundred other crazy ideas that Americans glom onto like a flies on a trashcan?
Unfortunately, Americans continue to search for the magic bullet—the one thing that will rid them of unwanted fat with little or no effort, and diet and exercise fads play into that desire. But one thing remains constant when all the fad dust has settled—back to basics is usually the best way.
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, and University of Texas, Galveston, conducted a research study on 127 men and women who were at least 30.8 pounds. They were assigned randomly to experimental design groups to examine the effects of three cognitive-behavioral weight control interventions for adults - diet only, exercise only, and thirdly, a combination of diet and exercise.
The two-year study results suggest that dieting is associated with weight loss followed by regain after treatment ends, whereas exercise alone produces smaller weight losses but better maintenance.
Why? Gale B. Carey, a nutritional biochemist at the University of New Hampshire, demonstrated in 1994 that fat cells store excess calories until the muscles need them. Exercise training makes fat cells more sensitive to hormones such as adrenaline that tell them to release the fat. This process, called lipolysis, shrinks the cells and reduces body fat. Adenosine, on the other hand, tells cells to hold onto their fat. Exercise helps fat cells ignore adenosine. Exercise-trained adipocytes have fewer receptor sites that can bind the hormone.
The interesting part is that if you exercise without reducing your caloric intake, or even overeat, adipocytes lose their ability to ignore adenosine. Carey’s research on miniature swine suggests that dietary overindulgence attenuates the effects of exercise. “For humans such overindulgences include inappropriate food choices, a desire for self-reward after exercise and misjudgments about the relative rates at which energy is expended or consumed,” Carey says.
So what does this mean? You guessed it. Eating a wide variety of foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, limiting processed carbohydrates and fats in combination with regular exercise are the best ways to lose weight.
Until we find that magic bullet.