Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What influences appetite more, cutting calories through dietary restriction or through exercise?

The Study
In this randomized trial, 10 young men completed 2 separate interventions that created a 25% deficit of their energy requirements. This was done first by reducing calories by 25%, and later by exercising 25% of their calories away. Appetite and energy intake were measured after each condition. The results were a bit surprising. Despite the deficit being 25% in both interventions, subjects were significantly more hungry and ate more calories after reducing their food intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016; 103:1008-16.

Take Home Message
For most people, losing weight over the short term is not that difficult. Keeping it off is the real challenge. We evolved in times of famine, drought and food scarcity. Our body developed some very good defense mechanisms to help keep our body fat at a safe level, including lowering metabolic rate and increasing hunger when faced with weight loss.

This study provides evidence that reducing calories creates more of this fight back response than exercise. This makes sense to me. I have noticed for years that drastic caloric restriction and rapid weight loss almost always results in an equally rapid regain of lost weight. I have found that the quicker the weight comes off, the quicker it comes back on. A more slow and steady approach to weight loss is imperative. Reducing calories moderately, but consistently, is the key. A well organized exercise program is the other part of the equation.

 

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