Diet vs Exercise

New year’s weight loss resolutions are abound and gyms are very busy this time of year. People are trying to burn off calories from the holiday season and shed some of the pounds gained and maybe some more in preparation for spring. But how effective is exercise alone?

There is no doubt that daily activity is good for you even if that’s merely taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is great and definitely has a big impact on both physical and mental health. It helps us reach those new year goals, however we are learning that diet has a lot more to do with reaching those weight loss goals than we think. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle has long been thought to promote weight loss because of the physical activity involved, going along with the theory that higher activity levels equal higher metabolic rates.  However, a recent study comparing energy expenditure and metabolic rates of the Hadza tribe in Tanzania with the average male and female westerner found average metabolic rate for both to be about the same. However the Hadza tribe and every other hunter-gatherer are much slimmer and leaner than the average westerner. This implies that an active lifestyle is only one component in helping promote weight loss and that diet actually has a larger role. In fact, some studies have shown that metabolism can drop somewhat over time with consistent exercise.Not to say that’s a reason not to exercise, but paying attention to the calories you consume can give you more bang for the calories you burn. This is the reason why some people hit a weight loss plateau. Metabolism is dynamic and will drop as your body mass drops therefore you will hit a weight loss plateau unless you adjust your caloric intake as the weight comes off. Luckily there is a calculator that can help you know how much to adjust your caloric intake and this should be done on a weekly basis to achieve the best results. So happy exercising and eating well! PlushCare’s top physicians will diagnose, treat, and prescribe you medication all from your phone. For more information or to book an appointment, visit plushcare.com.

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Maria Shikary

Maria Shikary

Dr. Shikary is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Medicine, and trained in pediatrics at UCSF in San Francisco. She specializes in holistic/integrative medicine and nutrition.

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