I attended a fast-paced session at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Denver last week. Titled “Energy Balance: Where Nutrition Meets Exercise and Medicine,” presenters were given 3 minutes to answer a nutrition and exercise question.
James Hill began with this question: What are the relative roles of diet and physical activity in weight loss and weight maintenance?
His answer: Research shows that diet is key to weight loss and physical activity is key for weight maintenance.
Why: Eating fewer calories works best to achieve a large enough calorie deficit for weight loss, but over the long-term, most people can’t sustain such a low calorie level to keep the weight off. Once weight is lost, those who successfully keep it off do so by being more physically active.
How much physical activity? 60-90 minutes a day to keep off any significant amount of weight loss. That translates to about 10,000 – 12,000 steps daily.
What to do: To lose weight focus on what and how much you eat first. Gradually incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, so that once you’ve achieved a healthier weight, you’re exercising enough to keep it off.
Check out our New American Plate Challenge and see how 8 people made diet and exercise changes through a weekly challenge from AICR.