Diet And Exercise

Diet versus exercise represents a long-standing debate among weight loss specialists: Which of these two known weight loss methods is most effective at keeping pounds off in the long term?

Many dieters are tempted to try quick-fix methods of weight loss, like fad diets and diet pills, in order to shed extra pounds. After all, studies show that weight loss achieved by means of diet control can be up to three times higher than loss achieved through exercise over the same period of time.

But how long does this dramatic weight loss stick? The bad news for fad dieters and people who lose weight through calorie-reduction alone is that, in the long run, they are far more likely to regain weight lost than individuals who lose weight through an exercise program or through combined dietary change and exercise.

Studies on Weight Loss

In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers analyzed the weight loss strategies of over 4,000 members of the National Weight Loss Registry. The study group’s median weight loss was 73 pounds, and the average time that members of the group were able to keep the weight off was five years.

The researchers found that nine out of ten of the group members lost weight by combining diet and exercise, while only 10% achieved their weight loss goals through dietary change alone.

Proven Strategies for Long-Term Weight Loss

By observing the weight loss techniques and practices of the study’s so-called “successful losers,” researchers identified the following strategies as the best ways to lose weight and keep it off for good:

  • Choose an active lifestyle: Exercise was the number one weight loss method utilized by all participants in the study. On average, individuals engaged in an hour’s worth of moderate-intensity activity daily, such as fast walking.
  • Eat a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet: Successful losers consumed an average of 1,381 calories each day, with only 24% of their calories coming from fat.
  • Make time for a balanced breakfast: About 75 percent of study participants ate breakfast. Simply making time for this first meal can help you to burn more calories during your day by increasing your metabolism. It also helps to prevent overeating later in the day. A typical breakfast for most participants contained cereal and fruit.
  • Stay balanced by weighing in: Participants who stepped on the scale daily, or every other day, were more successful at losing weight. Keeping an eye on your weight can encourage you to self-correct unhealthy eating patterns before they lead to dramatic gains.
  • Practice consistency: Participants who stuck with a regular regimen and did not give in to binge eating or extreme dieting were the most successful at keeping off the pounds long-term.

Invest in Health and Fitness for Life

Diet pills, fad diets and extreme calorie restrictions may seem like appealing options when you’re desperate to lose weight quickly. But why waste your time fluctuating back and forth when you can keep the pounds off for good?

It only takes a little bit of time and research to correct unhealthy eating patterns and find a form of exercise that works for you. If you feel unmotivated or unequipped to change your lifestyle, you might consider consulting a nutritionist or hiring a personal trainer to help you begin the process and keep you motivated throughout it.

Half of the participants in the study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition consulted a doctor or nutritionist or participated in a commercial weight loss program. The remaining participants were able to lose the weight on their own without outside help.

It’s possible to lose weight and keep it off for life. With the right combination of diet and exercise and by following the basic tips outlined above, you can invite healthy change into your life for good.