Diet or Exercise: Which Matters More for Weight Loss?
You know you should exercise and eat healthfully to keep your weight in check. The thing is, research suggests that when people devote time to one healthy habit, they spend less time on the other. So which is more important if you're worried about your waistline: your workout or your diet?
Turns out, people who think that diet is the most important factor in weight control tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who believe that exercise is the key, according to six new studies published in the journal Psychological Science.
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In the studies, researchers asked a total of more than 1,200 people in the U.S., Canada, China, France, and South Korea about the main factor that makes people overweight. They also took participants' height and weight measurements to calculate their BMIs. Interestingly, those who said it's most important to stay active to prevent obesity had higher BMIs than the people who said eating right is the key to weight control.
As you might expect, people's weight-control theories impacted their food choices. In two studies, when researchers offered participants unlimited chocolate, the people who said they think staying active is key to maintaining a healthy weight ate more.
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"Our beliefs guide our actions," says study co-author Brent McFerran, PhD, an assistant professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Think about it: If you think exercise is the key to weight control, you might move more and focus less on what you eat. While exercise can definitely support weight loss—and make you feel awesome, among other benefits—people tend to overestimate the amount of calories they burn while working out and compensate for the extra activity by eating more, says McFerran.
On the flip side, if you believe that eating a healthy diet is the best way to maintain your weight, you might worry less about exercise—but closely watch what you eat. And that's smart, especially because most people grossly underestimate the amount of calories they consume.
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The problem: Many people think they can work off extra pounds—but there's a ton of scientific evidence to support the fact that changing your diet is a more effective way to drop weight.
If we eat a 3000-calorie lunch, nearly no one has enough free time in the rest of the day to exercise it off.
Luckily, the best advice for weight control doesn't take much time: Steer clear of foods that are high in calories, and trade large plates and bowls for smaller ones to ensure you fill them with more restrained portions.
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That said, you should probably hold onto your gym membership, too. Although it's tough to slim down with exercise alone, staying active does help with weight control—and it's absolutely crucial for your health. Not only does exercise produce endorphins that increase your metabolic rate and motivate you to eat better—it also supports heart health, strengthens your bones, helps you sleep, decreases stress, and boosts mental health. All awesome reasons to hit the gym when you can!
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41 Superfoods Ranked By How Healthy They Are
We’re told to add powerhouse fruits and vegetables to our diet, but we don’t have much guidance on which ones are really potent and which are coasting by on their color alone. Nutritionists point us toward anything dark green and leafy, for example, but it turns out that they can vary by as much as 70 points on how many nutrients they contain.
Jennifer Di Noia, associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University, published in the Centers for Disease Control’s Preventing Chronic Disease work which focused on 17 nutrients considered by the food experts at the United Nations and the Institute of Medicine to be important to good health and to lowering risk of heart disease and cancer: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.
She then combed the scientific literature to calculate how many nutrients they contained per calorie of energy they provided (based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet); the higher the value, the more of a powerhouse food it was. “It gives people a way of thinking how to maximize the nutrients per calorie,” she says.
The list doesn’t include all the phytochemicals, or compounds that could add to a food’s nutritional profile but, she says, “now that we have a list of foods it can help consumers know what are the powerhouse fruits and vegetables, and maybe choose the more nutrient-dense foods over less nutrient dense ones.”
Here’s the list. And since this list is all fruits and veggies, it stands to remind you that you can’t really go wrong with anything listed here.
Item Nutrient Density Score
Beet green 87.08
Spinach 86.43 above 75.0
Leaf lettuce 70.73
Romaine lettuce 63.48
Collard green 62.49
Turnip green 62.12
Mustard green 61.39
Chive 54.80 above 50.0
Red pepper 41.26
Brussels sprout 32.23
Scallion 27.35 25.0 or below
Iceberg lettuce 18.28
Winter squash (all varieties) 13.89
Grapefruit (pink and red) 11.64
Sweet potato 10.51
Grapefruit (white) 10.47
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The Dirty Dozen
Resources From Your Coach
This is the Coach by Your Side bringing you healthy resources...a potpourri of articles, recipes and anything else that someone striving for wellness and weight lose can use.
The Easy Way to Cut Cravings
Feel like inhaling every snack food in sight? Chances are you didn’t get enough sleep last night. Sleep deprivation may trigger cravings by increasing levels of a molecule in your body that makes eating more pleasurable, according to new research.
Smart grocery shoppers read food labels to make sure that the nutrients and the amounts of nutrients in the food support the health objectives for themselves and their family. Equally as important as the mandated food label is the list of ingredients.
You should avoid lengthy ingredient lists with long ingredients names you can't pronounce. Be on the lookout for other less obvious names for sugar (fructose, sucrose or lactose) and MSG (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein or Sodium Caseinate).
There are 12 ingredients that you especially need to be aware of and avoid. They are called "The Dirty Dozen". If you see these in an ingredient list, look for another healthier choice. (Click here to see the Dirty Dozen List)
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YOUR BODY, YOUR LIFE, TAKE CHARGE
This is an old but interesting Sugar Stacks website (click here) established to dramatically illustrate how much sugar people are consuming when they put various foods and drinks in their mouths. 4.2 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar = 1 CUBE. With the huge increases in obesity (even among children) and Type II diabetes, pictures like these clearly should raise awareness that there may be a steep price to pay for not paying attention to sugar content in drinks and food.
Is Sugar Toxic?
The chances are good that sugar is a bigger part of your daily diet than you may realize which is why this information is so important. The average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year and new research coming out of some of America's most respected institutions is starting to find that sugar and the way many people are eating it today is a toxin and could be a driving force behind some of this country's leading killers, including heart disease and cancer.
As a result of these findings, an anti-sugar campaign has sprung up, led by Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist, who believes the consumption of added sugars has plunged America into a public health crisis.
For the study, researchers from the University of Chicago Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin had nine young, slim, healthy adults spend two six-day stints in a sleep lab. During the first session, they slept 8.5 hours a night—and during the next, they slept just 4.5 hours a night.
The researchers found that the participants’ peak levels of 2-AG—a molecule that influences how much pleasure you get from eating—were 15 percent higher if the subjects were sleep deprived. The molecule is something called an endocannabinoid, which can trigger cravings for calorie-dense foods similar to the munchies caused by marijuana’s cannabinoids.
“Sleep deficiency influences hedonic mechanisms so that highly palatable or high-reward foods are preferred and consumed,” says study author Erin Hanlon. Translation: Skimp on the shuteye, and you’ll want to load up on high-fat and high-sugar foods the next day.
Previous research shows that sleep deprivation contributes to increased appetite, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. While sleeping fewer than six hours a night spikes hunger by influencing levels of appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, this study explains why junk food might be so hard to resist after a sleep-deprived night—even if you aren’t feeling hungry. Researchers aren’t sure why a lack of shuteye raises 2-AG levels, but they say it could be your body’s way of ensuring you increase your energy (aka calorie) intake to perk up after a less-than-restful night.
According to previous research published in the journal SLEEP, nine hours a night is the optimal amount of sleep when it comes to your waistline. Still, everyone’s exact target number is different. Want to find yours? The next chance you get, go to bed when you feel tired and wake up in the morning without an alarm. After a few days of this, calculate the average number of hours you snoozed each night. That’s how many you need to stay healthy—and slim.
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This video link from "Sugar" from CBS 60 Minutes was originally aired on April 1, 2012 and was rebroadcast on August 5, 2012. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the correspondent. Denise Schrier Cetta and Sumi Aggarwal, producers.
If you want to hear more about this topic, I strongly recommend you click on the video below.
In it, Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, (who was interviewed by Dr. Guyta in the first video) explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public.