Eating healthy and exercising are inextricably linked when it comes to losing weight. But what if you want to maintain weight loss over the long term? A new study has found which of the two is more important for weight loss in the long run.
When it comes to losing weight, it is always very important to change your diet. Nutritional concepts such as keto , intermittent fasting or the Mediterranean diet , but also general trends such as clean eating, are the proof in the pudding. No pun intended.
But regular exercise is also important, because physical activity is another essential step in weight loss.
How important is the 80/20 rule?
Many people believe that the relevance of diet and exercise to weight loss is an 80/20 ratio. Accordingly, 80 percent can be attributed to diet and 20 percent to exercise.
And although this guideline may be correct if you want to lose a few pounds quickly, it does not provide any information about what is probably the most difficult task: maintaining the weight that you have lost and not gaining it back.
A study by the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, which appeared in the specialist journal Obesity, has shown whether the 80/20 rule still applies when declaring war on the yo-yo effect.
Physical fitness is more important to maintain weight
"The study addresses the difficult question of why so many people find it difficult to lose weight in the long term," explains Danielle Ostendorf in a statement from the university.
To do the study, the scientists examined the data from three different groups: The first included people who had already successfully lost weight (participants who had a reduced body weight of 13.6 kg (30 lbs) or more for more than a year).
The second group consisted of participants with a normal body weight (BMI similar to the current BMI of the first group) who had not previously lost any weight.
The last group, on the other hand, consisted of overweight or obese people whose BMI was similar to the BMI of the first group before weight loss.
According to the results, physical activity is actually more likely to help maintain significant weight loss.
“There is evidence that people who have successfully lost weight do a lot of physical activity to prevent weight gain. This is a step forward when it comes to clarifying the relationship between physical activity and weight loss,” said Ostendorf.
Their diet was similar to the other groups
"Our results suggest that the already successful group is consuming a similar number of calories per day as the overweight and obese group," says Victoria A. Catenacci, doctor of weight management and researcher at the university.
The difference that apparently prevents weight gain is the high level of physical activity.
The expert's statement is supported by the fact that the first group moved significantly more (12,000 steps per day) than participants with normal body weight (9,000 steps per day) and participants with overweight / obesity (6,500 steps per day).
Diet, of course, continues to be an important factor
While the current study shows that exercise and physical activity actually plays a much bigger role compared to diet than previously thought, it by no means gives us the excuse to eat what we want.
"It is still important to make sure that you are consuming nutrient-rich foods and trying to avoid foods high in refined sugar, fat and salt," the statement reads.
In any case, the study serves as an important reminder that exercise and physical activity are extremely important for our weight loss and maintenance - as well as for our physical and mental health.
TakeAway Tip: Exercise is 1 step FORWARD, a poor diet is 2 steps BACK.