Weight Loss: Cardio vs. Calorie Restriction

fitnessORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Need to lose weight, but don't know the best way to start? If you're in your 50s, cardiovascular exercise may be your best option.

Diet and exercise are both effective ways to lose weight. But if you're over 50, you may want to hit the treadmill to help maintain muscle mass when you're dropping pounds. A new study reveals caloric restriction promotes weight loss, but it may result in loss of muscle and aerobic capacity.

"The systems responsible for moving the body, the musculature and the cardiovascular systems, are being used in exercise-induced weight loss, therefore the body preserves them," study author Edward Weiss, Ph.D., of Saint Louis University in St. Louis, told Ivanhoe. "In the case of caloric restriction or diet-induced weight loss, there are fewer demands put on these systems, so the body degrades the tissues responsible for delivering oxygen and producing muscular force."

Over 12 months, researchers studied healthy men and women between 50 years and 60 years who lost weight through either diet or exercise. Prior to weight loss, participants had body mass indexes between 23 and 30, so they were either overweight or on the heavy side of the healthy weight BMI range. Dieters reduced their caloric intake between 16 percent and 20 percent. Exercisers engaged in 60 minutes to 90 minutes of cardiovascular activity six times a week and aimed to burn 16 percent to 20 percent of consumed calories. Both groups achieved weight loss, but exercisers achieved greater overall health benefits.

Exercise challenges the muscles and prevents them from degrading. A person who loses weight without exercising places fewer challenges on the body. In addition, body mass challenges muscles during everyday routines like walking and climbing stairs. Loss of body mass means the body does not expend as much energy completing regular tasks.

Exercisers invested an hour to an hour-and-a-half nearly every day to lose weight and make physical gains. It may seem time-consuming, but time invested in exercise could help you live longer and have a better quality of life.

"It may even be more time economical to lose weight through dietary intervention," Dr. Weiss said. "But the benefit of exercise beyond that obtained through diet is really the preservation of the body systems that allow a person to be physically active and perform physically demanding tasks."

Dr. Weiss said there are two requirements for exercise-induced weight loss: substantial time commitment and consistent food intake. Increased food consumption can quickly eliminate the benefits of exercise. Even if you try to lose weight without dieting, it's still important to monitor what you put in your mouth.

Because of their high caloric content, "a PowerBar and a Gatorade can very quickly eliminate the beneficial effect of exercise," Dr. Weiss said. "While exercise is appealing with these added benefits, it is a little trickier and a person has to be cautious."

source - Ivanhoe