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Dieting vs. Exercise for Weight Loss: Recent Research Survey

Gretchen Reynolds has a nice piece today on the diet vs. exercise schism that many of us come to terms with on our weight loss journeys. Citing two new pieces of research (one of which has already been covered here), she notes how research continues to suggest that exercise is a minor contributor to weight loss (compared to diet) and that the oft cited adage that that is frequently invoked to promote weight loss (“Exercise speeds up your metabolism which increases weight loss”) isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be when scrutinized:
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Do I Need to Exercise to Lose Weight?

Research

Changes in Plasma Lipids and Lipoproteins in Overweight Men during Weight Loss through Dieting as Compared with Exercise – New England Journal of Medicine

As compared with controls (n = 42), dieters (n = 42) had significant loss of total body weight (-7.8±0.9 kg [mean ±SE]), fat weight (-5.6±0.8 kg), and lean (nonfat) weight (-2.1±0.5 kg) (P<0.001 for each variable), and exercisers (n = 47) had significant loss of total body weight (-4.6±0.8 kg) and fat weight (-3.8±0.7 kg) (P<0.001 for both variables) but not lean weight (-0.7±0.4 kg). Fat-weight loss did not differ significantly between dieters and exercisers. All subjects were discouraged from altering their diet composition; however, dieters and exercisers had slight reductions in the percentage of kilojoules derived from fat.

A meta-analysis of the past 25 years of weight loss research using diet, exercise or diet plus exercise intervention – International Journal of Obesity

The data shows, however, that a 15-week diet or diet plus exercise program, produces a weight loss of about 11 kg, with a 6.6(+/-0.5) and 8.6(+/- 0.8) kg maintained loss after one year, respectively.

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