Or in other words, is the key to losing weight exercise, what you eat, neither or both?
A recent article sheds some light on this.
The authors conclude that research supports the conclusion that eating too much sugar, too many carbs is the reason for rampant weight issues, not the lack of exercise.
This is similar to my current conclusion from my practice and from articles that I have read. About 70% of weight loss, I would estimate, is related to eating healthier, less junk food, fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, more protein. About 30% is related to increased activity, more cardio exercise, muscle toning and muscle development (burns calories faster)… i.e. exercise.
I’ve seen a few patients lose primarily due to massive amounts of exercise— basically triathlon level training. Pretty much everyone needs to be more active than they currently are, so I’m all for exercise. It does burn calories, it does reduce stress (and stress eating). It’s ultimately good for your heart, your glucose levels, your blood pressure, etc. But it may not be sufficient to lose weight, especially a lot of weight.
On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of patients lose a lot of weight by transforming what they eat. Not just a diet, which has a temporary quality to it, but a lifestyle change in eating. People start with eliminating the junk food, the fast food. Soda with its empty calories must go. Minimize alcohol and its sugar calories, especially beer. Then cut down the white rice, the bread, the large pasta portions. Eat more fish, chicken, tofu, vegetables, more vegetables. No fruit juice, although some fruit is good. Diet soda not so good too, probably the chemicals have a negative trigger for appetite. Nuts as a snack are fine in moderation. Portion control for almost everything and drink lots of clear water, sparkling if necessary. This works for most people.
People lose weight in spurts, followed by brief plateaus, followed by more spurts. There are clearly different genetic factors involved, but in most people I check the thyroid and other measurable hormonal factors are not the key.
So change what you eat… and change your life!