Diet or Exercise: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

Cristina Goyanes
by Cristina Goyanes
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Diet or Exercise: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

There’s this nasty rumor that exercise won’t help you lose weight. The more you work out, the more you’ll eat because, well, you need to rebuild those muscles you just broke down. And for some folks that means they deserve a little something extra for the hard effort — like that yummy, pimped-out burrito you ordered on Seamless.

While this scenario might sound familiar (hello, Tuesday night), new science suggests that exercise does not necessarily increase your appetite or make you crave junk food. Conversely, if you skip the run or spin class and choose to cut calories instead, you might end up binge-eating later, reports the new study from Loughborough University published this spring in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“There’s a big debate at the moment about the extent to which the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity in the world might be due to overeating versus a lack of exercise,” says lead study author David Stensel, PhD, a professor of exercise metabolism at the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in the UK. “We set out to compare men and women’s responses to two particular hormones, ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and peptide YY, which suppresses appetite, in two separate experiments.”

In the first experiment, Stensel and his team observed 12 healthy college-age women who participated in three nine-hour trials, each a week apart. Each trial took place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in a lab, where subjects could pass the time working at a desk, playing computer games or watching TV. All subjects were fed two standardized meals (a tuna sandwich with mayonnaise, potato chips, a chocolate muffin and a green apple) within two hours (breakfast) and five hours (lunch) into the experiment. At hour eight (dinner), subjects then had access to a buffet — including milk, cereals, breads, ham, cheese, butter, cookies, chocolate and fruit — where they could eat as much as they wanted. Subjects rated their appetite throughout the day and gave blood samples so that scientists could measure the two hormones.

The three trials were divided into three categories (control, exercise-induced and food-restricted) and occurred randomly and simultaneously. The control subjects saw no changes to the above laid-out plan. However, when exercise was introduced, the same subjects were asked to run at a high intensity for 90 minutes, burning 830 calories on average before breakfast. All meal options remained the same as in the control trial. Lastly, in the food restriction trial, scientists reduced breakfast and lunch by 415 calories total (half the amount burned during the exercise trial) to create an energy deficit through diet. Then scientists repeated this exact experiment (albeit a bit shorter) with both male and female subjects.

The results of the experiments, which were the same for both men and women, suggest that exercise curbs cravings more than a calorie-restricted diet. “When we reduced people’s food intake at breakfast and lunch, the hunger hormone ghrelin stayed very high, whereas in the exercise trial, the ghrelin remained low,” Stensel explains. “And we found the hunger-suppressant hormone, peptide YY, stayed high in the exercise trial and low in the food deficit trial throughout the day. We also found that in the food deficit trial, people expressed feeling hungrier throughout the day whereas in the exercise trial, their perception of appetite was similar to the control trial.”

When it came time for dinner in the food-restriction trial, subjects tended to go hog wild at the buffet, consuming about 940 calories on average. The same subjects responded differently during the control and exercise trials, eating 610 and 660 calories on average, respectively, at the buffet. “That 300-calorie difference is a big jump,” says Stensel, who admits further research is needed to understand the mechanisms of why this is happening.

One reason could be that when you’re exercising vigorously, Stensel speculates, “the body is prioritizing sending blood to the muscles and that might interfere with hormone release, like ghrelin, which is secreted from cells in the stomach.” Basically, if less blood is pumping through the stomach, then it can’t carry ghrelin out, which might justify its temporary suppression. “That wouldn’t explain peptide YY, so that one is still a bit of a mystery,” he adds.

While this new study doesn’t have all the answers, other researchers agree it does support a very important point. “If you’re trying to lose weight, diet and exercise is still the best approach,” says Joy Dubost, PhD, a registered dietitian based in Washington, D.C., who did not work on this study. “The exercise component is so critical.”

She added: “You can only go down in calories so low. You may lose weight initially, but when you hit a plateau in weight loss, you can’t continue to restrict calories. Also, if you’re constantly hungry, then you will likely come off the diet. We know through this study that when you add exercise to a balanced, healthy diet, it really helps with weight management and weight loss. This study also dispels the myth that when you work out a lot, it increases hunger cravings.”

The bottom line: Exercise doesn’t trigger you to eat more, but dieting alone might. So if you really want to slim down, it would sooner benefit you to hit the gym than, say, eliminate entire food groups. The good news is you don’t need to run for 90 minutes to get the best results. As little as 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (that means any activity that gets your heart pumping, like running) may help keep ghrelin, in check, says Stensel, who is currently overseeing two additional studies in this area.

About the Author

Cristina Goyanes
Cristina Goyanes

Cristina Goyanes is a NYC-based freelance editor and writer who covers topics including sports and fitness, health and lifestyle, and adventure travel for various national men’s and women’s magazines and websites. When she’s not feverishly typing stories at her desk, she’s exploring the world, from the Arctic to Antarctica and plenty of countries in between. Follow her adventures and more at CristinaGoyanes.com.

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40 responses to “Diet or Exercise: Which is Better for Weight Loss?”

  1. Avatar Cris says:

    Awesome! I needed that!

  2. Avatar izzy says:

    A 12-person study tells us nothing; the statistical power is zilch for a study that tiny. Why on earth is this being presented as ground-breaking by MyFitnessPal? I do feel that we’ll probably find evidence for the role of exercise in weight loss beyond the other recent studies, but I will withhold judgment until I see a legit study. As a scientist myself, I am appalled at this attempt to pass off a 12-person study as good science. If this were an endangered species, it might be the best we can get. But the decision to do that for a common, overpopulated species like humans is not just impossible to draw conclusions from, it is also rather fishy because they easily could have obtained more subjects. I had 2.5 times that sample size for a rat-maze experiment I developed and conducted when I was in 9th grade. Human trials are considered small when they’re in the *hundreds*.

    • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

      As a scientist it should be self-evident that diet is the “key to weight loss.” Exercise simply allows a person to burn any surplus calories they consume over their maintenance level. If one eats in a deficit until they reach their goal weight –at which time they would eat at maintenance level– they would lose if they didn’t move a muscle.

      • Avatar izzy says:

        Yes, of course. Why is this comment framed as an argument against what I said? I agree with what you said, but that’s not what my statement was even addressing. I was criticizing the validity of the study the author “referenced” and wrote an entire article about because of its tiny sample size. Without solid empirical data, the article’s conclusion is meaningless in the discussion of whether diet is more vs equally as important as exercise to weight loss. If your argument is because I implied that there are likely *some* minor aspects about how the human body responds to exercise/dieting that we still don’t understand, then I’m even more confused. There is always more to learn via science, especially in regards to something as complex as the human body, although it will likely only be *relatively* subtle/nuanced discoveries at this point because of how much we do already know.

        • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

          They just churn out articles like this as clickbait. For some reason most people want to believe there are clever ways to circumvent the one and only thing that produces fat loss –which is calorie restriction, so they read articles like this in the hopes that there is some silver bullet solution that will allow them to eat what they want and still lose.

          • Avatar fitgirl says:

            But…I don’t really understand your complaint. This article IS suggesting that you must restrict your calories to lose weight, and that exercise can help you to further restrict your calories in a more successful manner, not that exercise makes you lose the weight.

          • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

            Whatever.

          • Avatar fitgirl says:

            Great. Thanks for giving an adult response and breaking that down for me.

          • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

            I break my neck on this site trying to knock everything down in simplest terms. No one ever listens. Hence the response.

          • Avatar Dustin Stout says:

            maybe if you had read the article instead of responding to the headline people would read what you write. You come across as a know it all. When it comes to nutrition and health, the science is always changing — being a know it all and parroting what you’ve read is incredibly naive (not to mention lacking critical thinking skills), as the science is constantly changing.

          • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

            Calories.

          • Avatar Dustin Stout says:

            “Whatever” = I have nothing to say, you’re right. Gotta love people too stubborn to admit they were wrong.

          • Avatar fitgirl says:

            My thoughts exactly. ..

          • Avatar Roger Morris says:

            Caloric restriction does not work in the long term. It comes down to what you eat. Stop eating sugars and processed foods and you’ll see results.

  3. Avatar davedave12 says:

    the fittest person in the gym can work out for an hour and burn 600 calories — the fattest person in town can eat 600 calories in 5 minutes —- which affects weight more?

  4. Avatar davedave12 says:

    silly

  5. Avatar Timothy Dayton says:

    I would never be able to just eat 600 or even 900 calories at dinner, what would I choose, a few pieces of cheese or a couple glasses of milk and you’re already close. Don’t eat that roll and dessert, forget that. 1500 calories maybe. So I eat a light breakfast, skip lunch, workout or walk and eat large at dinner, including a couple of brews or wine. I’ve lost 55 lbs over two years and feel great and I don’t mind missing lunch knowing a burger or pizza or a steak is waiting.

    • Avatar pcb123 says:

      Everybody’s metabolism is unique. I’d be curious as to what your blood numbers are: cholesterol (HDL/LDL) triglycerides (indications of precursors for type II diabetes), A1C, etc.

      • Avatar Timothy Dayton says:

        Before I retired my weight was up and I had issues with cholesterol and my A1C was not ideal. However since losing the 50+ lbs. that was a big burden to carry around and getting 6 to 8 hours of walking and some bodyweight strength exercises in each week I have no problem. I monitor those items but for the past couple of years it has been good across the board. Retiring did remove a big load of daily stress so I’m sure that was a big part and I get regular sleep instead of the weird hours I used to work. Certainly made it easier to forego eating, no nervous munching or I need the energy to stay awake allowed anymore.

  6. Avatar davedave12 says:

    You need to spend tens of thousands of dollars in grant money to find out that diet and exercise is better than diet or exercise?

  7. Avatar Arthur Russell says:

    I eat the same all of the time. When I go through periods where I can no longer work out because of schedules, I gain weight at an extraordinary rate. I’ve battled overweight my entire life. Dieting alone never worked for me. As far as dieting goes, the best method to eat for most is to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. It keeps your energy level up and stops you from being hungry. A meal could be a banana and an oz. of Almonds. The Almonds stop the banana from spiking your blood sugar. There is enough energy in a banana to support a workout. Knowing what foods to eat with what is a science. It’s not what you eat, but what you eat with what. Learning about nutrition helps a lot. A small piece of chicken can be a meal.

  8. Avatar James A Tillman says:

    First of all my answer to the question of “Which is Better for Weight Loss” Diet or Exercise: The answer is diet. Part of the problem is that excess weight is a symptom of the problem. When you eat the proper diet which should consist of green leafy vegetables, dark berries, a small amount of animal protein (wild caught sea food, pastured chicken, grass fed beef) and eliminate all modern grains including and especially there generic modified versions you would balance your gut microbes. This is not calorie restriction but simply eating the foods we have been eating through a major part of our evolution. We are primates whose cells and good gut microbes have been eating a large variety (over 200) of green leafy vegetables during various seasons over the year. We were never designed to eat grains (wheat, corn, rice, barley, soy as well as legumes (beans) and consuming them slowly poisons our system and we simply do not absorb the proper nutrients. Over our lifespan various types of auto-immune diseases result from this. The author fails to mention this because he really does not understand what really is happening and is putting a band aid over a much larger problem. The main culprit is the “Standard American Diet” which is tilted toward grain and animal protein. Our technology has genetically modified these grains making them even more foreign to our bodies. We feed these grains to our fish, livestock, and poultry. None of these animals ever ate grains. So we are exposed to the grains by not only eating them directly but by also consuming these animals. These grains also serve as the foundation of most of our processed foods. This is what has caused our obesity problem.

    Exercise definitely helps curb overeating, but if we were eating the right foods then the amount of food we eat will not matter. You get the same amount of protein from spinach as beef based on the same amount of weight, The difference is the bulk and fiber from the spinach fills you. This is all explained in the book title :The Plant Paradox” that can be purchased on Amazon for $16.00.

    • Avatar pcb123 says:

      Very well put. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve lost 50 lbs – and I work out 5 days per week doing CrossFit. But the weight did not start coming off until I changed the way I eat. I do NOT “diet.” “Diet” is “die” with a “t”. I eat nutritious food. In the article, All subjects were fed two standardized meals (a tuna sandwich with mayonnaise, potato chips, a chocolate muffin and a green apple). C’mon! Tuna with mayo? And potato chips and a chocolate muffin? And that’s considered a healthy, nutritious food choice? Eat NUTRITIOUS FOODS. That means ORGANIC veggies – lots of them. That means raw nuts – no salts or sugars. That means no red meat. That means water to drink. No dairy. No alcohol. Deserts = a piece of fresh fruit. The standard American diet is giving us school children who are morbidly OBESE, and developing type II diabetes! They waddle away from the video games long enough to cram some more gunk down their little pie holes, washed down with a 32 oz soda. For me it’s consistency. Work out five days per week, eat nutritious food, only. Oh, and before we start hearing “I’m too old” I’m 59. If I can do it, anyone can.

      • Avatar James A Tillman says:

        Thank you for confirming what I have said. We are truly kindred spirits. I am 60 years old and work out rotating between Taebo, weightlifting, walking and sprinting (HIIT). Like you I weighed 247 lbs in March 2017. I was working out and thought I was eating healthy (brown rice, corn, whole wheat bread, soy milk, oatmeal, some fruit and some greens etc). I went on the Plant Paradox program (eliminating the grains and beans) eating the very foods you mentioned (heavy emphasis on organic green leafy vegetables and organic fruit only in season) and lost 56 lbs in 8 months. I now weigh 191 lbs which is what I weighed in college while running track 40 years ago. Not only that but by eating the right foods my blood pressure which was high went to normal, my incontinence disappeared, my insomnia vanished, my energy level jumped, my skin became moist and full, my brain fog lifted. I literally became younger. My muscle tone changed dramatically also. I am nearly as muscular as I was running sprints in college. I am doing the exact same exercises as I was earlier this year when I weighed 250lbs. I am also eating between 2500 to 3000 calories just as you mentioned. The difference is that my body is now absorbing to proper nutrients. The leaky gut I had because of consuming the grains went away and now only the proper nutrients are being absorbed, not the foreign bacteria and toxins. The leaky gut phenomena is the root cause of all the autoimmune diseases and one of the main symptoms is obesity which your body is thinking it is under attack and thus is piling on fat to feed your white blood cells. This is what is happening to most of the US population.

        • Avatar pcb123 says:

          You’re absolutley right – we are a pair. My numbers are close to yours: I started at 221# on a 5’8″ frame. Now, I’m roughly 171 (+.- 2 #). My BP dropped from 140 / 82 to a sustained 112/68. I wsa never a great athlete, or anything. I served as a Marine for 28 years, and had to maintain the fitness, but I was never anything special. I packed on the pounds when I retired & became very sedentary. I was becoming what I despsied: a fat old man, stuck in an easy chair, unable to move, unable to function. I see a lot of guys like that. I couldn’t do that anymore, I had to do something. I was working at US Special Operations Command, and attended the Methods of Instruction Course at Joint Special Operations University in Tampa, Fl. We had to do an initial presentation on something we enjoyed. My buddy – an Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel, did one on CrossFit, clean eating and the benefits of that. The purpose of these presentations was to get us up in front of a crowd and talking. Nobody much paid attention to the subject matter, but when my buddy gave his talk, I paid attention. Careful attention, and it clicked. I searched out CrossFit gyms near my house, and found one that had just opened. I called and set up an appointment. I felt something I rarely experienced with workouts: trepidation. But, I started. I couldn’t step up on an 18″ box ten times wthout being totally winded. My deadlift was 185#. My front squat was 95#. But – I kept at it, day in, day out. Then I really cleaned up my eating. I ceased all snacking. I stopped all alcohol consumption. My wife is very, very savvy on nutrition, organic food and gluten free eating – she made sure I was eating correctly. Gradually, the pounds came off.
          Ok, I’ve gone on and on. But, it’s my soapbox. My guru? Jack LaLane. The grandfather of modern fitness.

          • Avatar FreedomMatters says:

            Thanks for sharing.

          • Avatar James A Tillman says:

            First I would like to say “Thank you for your service”. Very impressive story. I never served in the Armed Services but was a DOD Civil Servant for 11 years and worked with many service people over the years. I would recommend you buy the “Plant Paradox” on Amazon for $16.00. It will add to your already impressive knowledge. I had trouble with my weight for years and hit rock bottom in 2004 when I reached 296 lbs. I looked like I was 9 months pregnant. My Doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and wanted to begin describing multiple medications. Frustrated and angry I started eating more fruits and vegetables and starved myself on between 1200 to 1800 calories per day. I lost 90 lbs over 8 months. I had no clue as to what I was doing. When I went back to eating the Standard American Diet I gradually put on weight again and after a few years I was back up to 270 lbs. with even more physical ailments. I tried various diet approaches such as Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo etc. and had short term success but they were unsustainable and once I reverted back the weight reappeared. What changed everything was changing my diet to the foods we as humans evolved to eat over millions of years. Once my system re-calibrated after about six weeks my cravings for organic green leafy vegetables skyrocketed and my desire for processed foods and new world grains plummeted. My body completely changed and at 6’1″ I literally became 30 years younger. The exercise etc. toned me but the dietary shift made the difference. I continue to spread the word on these forums and hope you continue to also. The majority of our physical ailments comes from our diet that has been altered by our technology mainly within the last 60 years.

          • Avatar pcb123 says:

            That is inspirational! I, too did Paleo. Thing is, I LIKE legumes… and I think the science is a bit flawed, particularly since the basis of measurement is glycemic index, which has been disproven. I also completely understand the whole “dieting” mindset. That was one thing I knew I had to overcome. That’s why I never “diet.” The word implies an ending – at some point, you will no longer be “on a diet.” In other words, you will revert back to the “normal” way of eating. Like you, I had to come up with a new “normal.” For me, that was “I CHOOSE to eat nutritious food.” My choice. I am in control. I’m perfectly able to walk in to any “McDeaths” out there, order the nastiest tripple almost-beef McNasty burger there is and chow down. I can do that. But, I CHOOSE not to. It’s very empowering. So, like you, my cravings for crap ebbed away. And now, I cannot ever consider reverting back. Good for you! You’ve added many quality years on to your life. That rocks!

    • Avatar Roger says:

      Could the obesity problem that took off in the early 1980’s be hormonal? Could changes in our diet introduced in the 70’s and 80’s have caused the “obesity problem” (Hyper tension, Diabetes II, Heart disease, etc.)? Is obesity a problem or is it a symptom of an underlying hormonal problem?

      A person with type 1 diabetes can eat and drink 10,000+ calories with no weight gain. Why is that? In order to put on any weight, they have to have insulin introduced into their system. It is also required to allow them to ingest carbs or regulate glucose. A person with type 1 diabetes has no insulin to handle the carbs (sugar & starch). If a person’s hormonal insulin releases are reduced or minimized, will they naturally lose weight? Reducing the consumption of high carb foods while increasing the consumption of good fats to meet the calorie energy requirements will lead to natural weight loss and no hunger.

      There is also lot of new medical research and Youtube’s online by doctors that proves this out if you are interested. For more information on just the diet, see Ketogenic Diet Resource website or the Real Meal Revolution website.

      • Avatar James A Tillman says:

        The answer to your question is yes, the changes in diet beginning in the 1960’s has caused the obesity symptom as well as in some people cause the drastic weight loss symptom. The reason these are symptoms and not the root cause of the problem is because in some people the impact of insulin resistance can block nutrients from entering and the result is significant weight and muscle loss which is also a symptom. Eating the foods we are not programmed to eat effects people in different ways depending on the amount you eat, type of foods, genetic makeup etc. Massive weight gain and weight loss are merely symptoms that the body perceives that it is at war against something. Eating a diet heavily tilted towards modern grains and there GMO versions along with feeding these grains to our livestock, beef, fish, poultry as well as using these grains as the foundation for our processed foods caused this massive deterioration in overall health. The root cause is a group of proteins called lectins. Lectins are in both animals and plants however, around 360 million years ago plants converted lectins into a bio defense weapon to dissuade insects from eating them and their seeds. Animals have the ability to get use to the lectin attack if they consume the plant long enough to evolve microbes to ingest the lectins. For example rats have been consuming grains for 40 million years and have over 100 times the grain consuming microbes as humans do. The process to get use to certain plants takes tens if not hundreds of thousands of years in complex animals like humans. Plant Lectin proteins by design bear a striking resemblance to proteins within our body. When our body attacks the foreign plant lectins believing that it is under attack our defense mechanism also begin attacking similar proteins and cells which in essence leads to the various autoimmune diseases as well as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, Parkinson’s and a host of others. Having the proper balance of microbes in our gut as well as consuming the right foods is crucial because some of these microbes are able to consume these lectins before they get into our system. Lectins have the ability to pry open the junctures of our intestinal wall an enter into our body where they cause a host of problems as mentioned above. Also, the holes they have created in our gut lining allow other bacteria and microbes to enter. This condition is called leaky and it impacts most of the population that eat the standard American Diet. We are slowly poisoning ourselves since we were children especially eating the GMO in processed foods. All this is explained in the book the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. It can be purchased on Amazon for $16.00. When I switched to the proper foods my pre-diabetic condition disappeared, along with my high blood pressure, incontinence, excess weight (56 pounds), brain fog, insomnia. I improved in all areas, physically, mentally and emotionally including skin tone. I am now the same weight that I was when I ran track 40 years ago along with virtually the same muscle structure. I feel and look at least 25 years younger. This happened over an eight month period.

      • Avatar James A Tillman says:

        The answer to your question is yes, the changes in diet beginning in the 1960’s has caused the obesity symptom as well as in some people cause the drastic weight loss symptom. The reason these are symptoms and not the root cause of the problem is because in some people the impact of insulin resistance can block nutrients from entering and the result is significant weight and muscle loss which is also a symptom. Eating the foods we are not programmed to eat effects people in different ways depending on the amount you eat, type of foods, genetic makeup, body type etc. Massive weight gain and weight loss are merely symptoms that the body perceives that it is at war against something. Eating a diet heavily tilted towards modern grains and there GMO versions along with feeding these grains to our livestock, beef, fish, poultry as well as using these grains as the foundation for our processed foods caused this massive deterioration in overall health. The root cause is a group of proteins called lectins. Lectins are in both animals and plants however, around 360 million years ago plants converted lectins into a bio defense weapon to dissuade insects from eating them and their seeds. Animals have the ability to get use to the lectin attack if they consume the plant long enough to evolve microbes to ingest the lectins. For example rats have been consuming grains for 40 million years and have over 100 times the grain consuming microbes as humans do. The process to get use to certain plants takes tens if not hundreds of thousands of years in complex animals like humans. Plant Lectin proteins by design bear a striking resemblance to proteins within our body. When our body attacks the foreign plant lectins believing that it is under attack our defense mechanism also begin attacking similar proteins and cells which in essence leads to the various autoimmune diseases as well as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, Parkinson’s and a host of others. Having the proper balance of microbes in our gut as well as consuming the right foods is crucial because some of these microbes are able to consume these lectins before they get into our system. Lectins have the ability to pry open the junctures of our intestinal wall and enter into our body where they cause a host of problems as mentioned above. Also, the holes they have created in our gut lining allow other bacteria and microbes to enter. This condition is called leaky gut and it impacts most of the population that eat the standard American Diet. We are slowly poisoning ourselves since we were children especially eating the GMO in processed foods. All this is explained in the book the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. It can be purchased on Amazon for $16.00. When I switched to the proper foods my pre-diabetic condition disappeared, along with my high blood pressure, incontinence, excess weight (56 pounds), brain fog, insomnia. I improved in all areas, physically, mentally and emotionally including skin tone. I am now the same weight that I was when I ran track 40 years ago along with virtually the same muscle structure. I feel and look at least 25 years younger. This happened over an eight month period.

      • Avatar James A Tillman says:

        I have been researching the various sites you mentioned but I settled on the Plant Paradox Program by Dr. Steven Gundry because his teams research includes all others and dates back at least a billion years of evolution.

        The answer to your question is yes, the changes in diet beginning in the 1960’s has caused the obesity symptom as well as in some people cause the drastic weight loss symptom. The reason these are symptoms and not the root cause of the problem is because in some people the impact of insulin resistance can block nutrients from entering and the result is significant weight and muscle loss which is also a symptom. Eating the foods we are not programmed to eat effects people in different ways depending on the amount you eat, type of foods, genetic makeup etc. Massive weight gain and weight loss are merely symptoms that the body perceives that it is at war against something. Eating a diet heavily tilted towards modern grains and there GMO versions along with feeding these grains to our livestock, beef, fish, poultry as well as using these grains as the foundation for our processed foods caused this massive deterioration in overall health. The root cause is a group of proteins called lectins. Lectins are in both animals and plants however, around 360 million years ago plants converted lectins into a bio defense weapon to dissuade insects from eating them and their seeds. Animals have the ability to get use to the lectin attack if they consume the plant long enough to evolve microbes to ingest the lectins. For example rats have been consuming grains for 40 million years and have over 100 times the grain consuming microbes as humans do. The process to get use to certain plants takes tens if not hundreds of thousands of years in complex animals like humans. Plant Lectin proteins by design bear a striking resemblance to proteins within our body. When our body attacks the foreign plant lectins believing that it is under attack our defense mechanism also begin attacking similar proteins and cells which in essence leads to the various autoimmune diseases as well as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, Parkinson’s and a host of others. Having the proper balance of microbes in our gut as well as consuming the right foods is crucial because some of these microbes are able to consume these lectins before they get into our system. Lectins have the ability to pry open the junctures of our intestinal wall an enter into our body where they cause a host of problems as mentioned above. Also, the holes they have created in our gut lining allow other bacteria and microbes to enter. This condition is called leaky and it impacts most of the population that eat the standard American Diet. We are slowly poisoning ourselves since we were children especially eating the GMO in processed foods. All this is explained in the book the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. It can be purchased on Amazon for $16.00. When I switched to the proper foods my pre-diabetic condition disappeared, along with my high blood pressure, incontinence, excess weight (56 pounds), brain fog, insomnia. I improved in all areas, physically, mentally and emotionally including skin tone. I am now the same weight that I was when I ran track 40 years ago along with virtually the same muscle structure. I feel and look at least 25 years younger. This happened over an eight month period.

    • Avatar Gareth Powell says:

      Thankful that this was the first comment on this post.. took the words out of my mouth! Careless oversight by the author.

  9. Avatar john says:

    Eating clean and pooping less will cause you loose fat. :).

  10. Avatar Mike Yakey says:

    In my experience, both. Diet and exercise to to get to where you want weight and fitness wise, then maintenance diet and mega exercise to maintain weight, gain muscle and get more fit…

  11. Avatar The Werewolf says:

    The headline and the content aren’t related.

    If you’re asking ‘which will cause you to lose more weight’ the answer is simple: dieting. That’s just basic physics and math.

    If you’re asking ‘which will help you to lose weight more consistently’, then the answer is actually both.

    The problem with ‘diet’ is, of course, what you mean by it. Fad diets or crash diets don’t work in the long run, whether you exercise or not, because eventually you go off the diet and return to the bad eating habits you started with. But food management systems where you’re trained to eat the right number of calories for your target weight and how to prepare a wide range of foods so you can eat right for the long haul, do work.

    Exercise is an important part of being healthy – no argument – so no sane person is suggesting ‘diet only and don’t exercise’, but the reality is that exercise on its own won’t cut it and most people give up on exercise as a form of weight loss when they realise it isn’t working and it’s exhausting.

  12. Avatar Jason says:

    You can’t out-run a bad diet.

  13. Avatar Irah says:

    Speaking from personal experience, I have found, that for myself, exercise is key. Most diets are too restrictive and will not be possible to follow in the long run. However, when I exercise hard, I feel more accountable for what I put into my mouth, generally opting for healthier choices without it feeling as if I am making a sacrifice – like I would if I was dieting. Also, when dieting, it is so easy to throw in the towel if you had a cheat weekend – as you will almost immediately see the consequences of those actions on the scale, come Monday morning. I will however not lose my muscle tone (albeit very little at this stage 🙂 if I had made a few bad choices on a Saturday or Sunday. And lastly, in the long run, those muscles gained, burn a heck of lot more calories during the day, so for lasting results and no yo-yo diet effects, exercise pushes you in more of a healthy direction in general, than dieting on it’s own, ever will.

  14. Avatar Sarah Smallwood says:

    Calorie restriction of any kind comes at a price as it will damage metabolism in the long run, I now have a weight problem for the first time ever in my life. I used to be anorexic, I ate very little for a long period of time. I now have the problem where I cannot eat an average calorie intake or I put on weight for maintenance I have to stick to about 1200 calories so without exercise I would be right back to square one eating nothing at all to lose weight

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