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Diet and exercise really do go hand in hand when you want to lose weight. New research confirms that changing your diet and increasing the amount of activity you do will give the most sustained weight loss.
A team from the Stanford University School of Medicine had analysed the results of several published studies that involved more than one change to health habits. Abby King, a professor of health research and policy and of medicine at Stanford, then led the research which focused on the outcomes for people who changed more than one habit at the same time.
The Stanford study – published in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine – concluded that weight loss advice to change diet first before concentrating on exercise should now be updated to advise the overweight that they should do both at the same time. And for those who can’t contemplate such a change in lifestyle, the advice should be to start exercising first before altering food intake.
A group of 200 people was recruited to the King-led Stanford study. All were over the age of 45, eating unhealthily and not doing any regular exercise. The participants were randomly split into four groups and given telephone coaching for a year in their weight-loss program.
Group one was encouraged to change both diet and exercise at the same time. Group two switched their diet first and went on to take part in physical activity. Group three exercised first and dieted later, while group four was a control group that focused on managing stress not diet or exercise.
The results of the trial showed that the group achieving the best success in weight loss was the group who focused on diet and exercise at the same time; the group doing exercise first, followed by diet had the next best weight-loss results.
The telephone coaching was key, according to the study’s findings, as the participants led busy lifestyles and found the easy access to coaching helpful.