Watching what and when you eat is the first step toward achieving the body of your dreams. Everyone knows that. But what if we told you that the conversation is a lot more nuanced in reality? In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular diet-related facts and back them with some of the most extensive studies to date.
Dieting Can Be Successful Only When It Is Paired with Exercise
It’s no secret that dieting and exercise go hand in hand. In fact, exercise is one of the top weight-loss tips and tricks to follow while dieting. Eating healthy while eliminating junk and processed food from your diet is beneficial on its own, of course. However, if you want to slim down efficiently in a sustainable way, you will need to become more active as well.
This statement is thoroughly supported by the findings of a systematic review of 33 clinical trials focused on the topic of losing weight through diet and exercise. Its results were published in 2005 in the 29th issue of the International Journal of Obesity. The studies were obtained from the Cochrane Library, Lilacs, and Medline databases.
Depending on the type of investigation, the duration of the studies ranged between 10 weeks and 52 weeks. The final results were in favor of combining diet and exercise for multiple reasons.
First, pairing a fixed eating plan with regular exercise triggered 20% more initial weight loss in the participants who pursued this type of program than in those on a ‘normal’ diet. What’s more, the weight loss was 20% more sustainable over the course of one year that in the case of a separate pursuit. Of course, some of the dropped pounds were regained during the 12-month period.
Diet and Exercise May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Diets do more for you than just help you shed those pesky extra pounds that have been bothering you. The right approach combined with a hefty dose of exercise may be also beneficial for cardiovascular health. Therefore, men and women who lead a healthy lifestyle are far less likely to experience heart attacks, strokes, and other types of CV disease in their life.
One of the most comprehensive studies proving this was conducted in 1993, but its findings are as relevant today as they were back then. The sample group of patients consisted of 157 healthy men aged between 35 and 60 years. The participants were slightly more at risk of developing heart disease than the common person, which is why they were chosen for the research.
The 157 men were randomly divided into four groups. One group pursued only a healthy diet, the second exercised, the third engaged in a combination of the two, and the fourth was the control group which was administered no intervention. Participants in the three intervention groups experienced significant improvements.
Waist circumference decreased, as did blood pressure. What set the third group apart from the first two was the notable reduction in the levels of LDL cholesterol aka bad cholesterol. What’s more, this group saw the highest drop in cardiovascular risk, namely 14%. The values for the other two groups weren’t that much different, with a total of 13% and 12%, respectively.
Diet and Exercise May Treat Anxiety, Depression, and Alzheimer’s
Diet and exercise’s ability to improve mental state is a well-known fact. In fact, it is popularly listed as one of a healthy lifestyle’s main benefits. An animal study conducted in 2018 entitled Influences of Diet, Exercise, and Stress on Hippocampal Health in Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease has taken huge steps toward demonstrating this claim.
According to the study’s conclusions, both stress-related depression and Alzheimer’s disease may cause a loss of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, brain cell membrane damage, oxidative stress, inflammation, and speed up other similar signs of brain aging. This can affect the hippocampal health and make the condition and its symptoms worse along the way.
The laboratory mice involved the study were thus fed a special supplement that contained various key ingredients and were put through daily exercise sessions. As a result, their hippocampal health improved due to the reduced incidence of the aforementioned destructive factors that influence anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s in humans.
There is still much to be investigated and established on the topic, but the preliminary conclusion that we can draw is that endorphin release isn’t the only mental-state enhancer triggered by a healthy lifestyle. This way of living might be a viable treatment option that could soon be prescribed by medical professionals in the field.
The Bottom Line
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. They rarely work long-term one without the other. When these two are paired, their benefits go far beyond losing a few extra pounds. They may improve cardiovascular health, as well as mental health. And these benefits are not just things to check off of a list. They are backed by years and years of thorough research.
Featured image via WeHeartIt.