22 November, 2017
Diet vs Exercise
In the quest to lose weight, is diet more effective than exercise, or is it the other way round?
LOSING weight is never an easy task. This is even more so if you’re the type who hates to exercise and can never say “No” to a snack. In essence, if you’ve the spine of a jellyfish, diet is definitely a “four-letter” word.
To lose weight the natural way, you’ve either got to burn those calories or stay away from them. It’s as simple as that. Some, though, believe that for a weight-loss program to work, it should be structured to suit the person ? that one of the two, either exercise or diet, should take prominence over the other.
However, an effective and healthy program should incorporate both in a balanced manner. Losing weight the quick way might not necessarily be the best way.
Which should play a more prominent role in a weight-loss programmed – diet or exercise?
-Neither diet nor exercise should take the more prominent role in successful weight loss. To lose 0.5kg of fat in a week, we need to build up an energy deficit of about 500kcal per day.
We can achieve this by either cutting back on energy intake from our diet or by exercising. It is more efficient and practical if one does both. This is because weight management is not only about losing weight, but about weight maintenance as well.
By simply embarking on a diet-only or exercise-only regime, weight maintenance becomes tricky. This is because it is impractical for a person to be on either a restricted diet or a strenuous exercise regime for the rest of his/her life.
Choosing to only cut back on food would mean having to stick with a restricted diet for a long period. This approach to weight loss (both fat and lean body mass) is short-lived, resulting in weight that is quickly regained when the person stops dieting.
And because the weight that is regained is mostly fat (due to exclusion of exercise) the body becomes less efficient in burning energy, making it harder to lose weight at the next attempt to diet.
Weight loss is best achieved when a healthy diet and regular exercise fulfil their roles equally. This way, our diet becomes less restricted (thus easier to follow and maintained), plus we get to reap the added benefits, such as a healthier cardiovascular system, from exercise.
When should a diet-orientated program be recommended to an individual?
-Dietary intervention should always be coupled with exercise. Sometimes however, people who are morbidly obese may have difficulty exercising because of excess weight.
When faced with this situation, it is practical to begin with a diet-orientated program first, with encouragement to gradually fit in suitable forms of exercise.
Is a diet-orientated program more effective for losing weight in a short period of time?
-Successful weight loss is very individualistic. When a lifestyle change suits the person, heartening weight loss will result. A person who is extremely negative about physical exercise will be more compliant with dietary changes. A person who cannot resist food will be more comfortable with an exercise regime.
For example, if you want to create an energy deficit of 160kcal, you can either choose to walk up and down the stairs for 15 minutes or forgo the three Oreo cookies that were planned for snack-time.
It has been said that dieters who don’t exercise would end up losing both fat and tissue muscle. Is this true?
-Yes, that’s true.
Are there ways of food management that could help prevent this?
-No food management can prevent this. It is a popular myth that having extra protein in your diet can build muscle. The fact is only exercise builds muscle strength and size.
What’s the best way to begin a diet for people who are overweight but who’re not prepared to exercise?
-Changing to a healthier diet is one of the steps in a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss. For those who are initially not willing to exercise, dietary modification is best individualized as I’ve said before, but exercise should be slowly encouraged with “active rest”.
Active rest simply means being less sedentary in your daily life, for example, taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking more and washing the car yourself instead of sending it to a car-wash.
Is there a standard recommended diet program for quick weight loss, or perhaps an ideal diet?
– Quick weight loss is not advisable. A safe and healthy weight loss should not exceed 1kg a week. Furthermore, rapid weight reduction does not allow gradual changes in eating behavior, which is essential for weight maintenance.
The ideal diet for weight loss should best be individualized, inducing a moderate reduction in energy intake that can be sustained in the long run.
The diet plan should make gradual changes based on healthy eating that take into consideration the quantitative aspects (for example: daily caloric intake, nutrient distribution – fat, carbohydrates, protein, intake of fibre, portion size, etc) and the qualitative aspects (for example: binge eating, skipped meals, mood eating, cultural influences, etc).
The weight loss diet should not be less than 1200 k cal/day, unless supervised by your dietician or doctor.
How do we motivate ourselves to stick to a program?
– It is important to firstly evaluate the causes of shirking from a weight management program. Some common causes include boredom, discouragement from slow progress, social situations and lack of self-confidence.
Preparations should be made to address these problems. Some tips that help address common problems include:
· Embarking on the program with a friend or family.
· Garnering positive support from family and friends (particularly spouses).
· Not keeping track of your progress TOO frequently. Weighing yourself once a week is sufficient as you may not get the true picture if your weigh yourself too frequently.
· Focusing on how your “healthy weight” feels instead of how much weight you have lost. For example, celebrate the fact that you can now walk up the stairs without getting out of breath or that your waist size has decreased.
· Giving yourself non-food rewards such as a new music CD or a new garment for your successes.
What are the health benefits of sticking to a diet regime?
– Health benefits can only stem from a healthy diet plan and not from one that aims to shed the pounds fast. In fact, a well thought out diet regime should be part of a person’s life, and not only for that period of “weight loss”.
When variety, balance and moderation is practiced, health benefits one would reap include getting the adequate amount of nutrients and food substances your body needs to ensure overall health – bone health, regular bowel movements, sufficient energy. There is decreased risk of diseases such as heart diseases, certain forms of cancer, high blood cholesterol and hypertension. And you enjoy a higher quality of life, and possibly a longer lifespan.
From point of view, do these benefits outweigh those derived solely from exercise? Say, there are two men who’re equally overweight and one chooses to diet without exercise while the other chooses exercise without diet. Who do you think is better off?
– Diet and exercise work synergistic ally. Take for example someone trying to decrease serum cholesterol levels whilst attempting to lose weight.
Without exercise, being on a strict diet will not work as efficiently. This is because dietary modifications help lower serum cholesterol, but exercise, on the other hand, is more efficient at raising serum HDL levels (lip-proteins that carry fat away from the arteries).
Doing one without the other is like trying to reach 60km/hour in your car on first gear.