Dieting vs Exercise for Weight Loss

Dieting vs Exercise for Weight Loss

It has been always believed that the life closer to the hunter-gatherer type involving a lot of physical activity would lead one to a healthier life as it would help them burn more calories. It is believed that the physical activity of the primitive lifestyle would help to burn far more calories than the average urban lifestyle of current times. New studies are challenging this notion about weight loss.


Research on impact of activity on weight loss


A team of anthropologists studied people from the Hazda tribes of Tanzania whose lifestyle is still that of hunter and gatherer. These people were fitted with GPS units to measure the miles that they have walked to look for food, energy expenditure during the day, and rates of resting metabolism. They wanted to compare this to the same measures of a typical western man or woman.

Findings of the study were discouraging for those looking to lose weight through exercise. The scientists found that the average metabolic rate, in other words the calories burnt by the Hazda tribe’s people in a day, was more or less the same that of the average westerner. This means that being active may not guard against obesity if the diets change along with the level of activity. In other words if the eating pattern is the same as being followed in urban centres of the world, particularly in the west, people would continue to gain weight despite increased activity level.

So, is exercise without diet modification enough for weight loss? The message coming out of this research is that increased physical activity or exercise is not enough to help you lose weight and be thin. Acording to Dr. Timothy Church, Chair in Health Wisdom at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, it is not new knowledge that dieting is an easier way to lose weight than exercise. Dr. Church has studied weight control due to exercise for long. The underlying reason for this is that human metabolism is not as affected by activity as it was believed.


How exercise affects metabolism


There have been very few studies to have thoroughly monitored the food intake, metabolic rates and exercise of volunteers. It was found that the metabolic rates of the volunteers dropped as they lost weight. This happened despite the fact that they exercised daily.

The volunteers burned close to 500 calories in an exercise session but their total calories burned in a day was not what it would have been if their metabolism had remained the same. This made them lose lesser weight than expected.

All of this points to exercise not being the best option of losing weight if not backed up by the necessary diet modifications.


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