Diet and exercise are both important for weight loss. What you eat affects your health and physical activity has numerous
health benefits. But, if you really want to see that number on the scale drop, what you put in your mouth matters most.
People who simply cut calories to slim down lose about 2 pounds a week, says a study in the International Journal of
Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders
. At the same time, people who exercise but don't restrict calories drop less
than half a pound each week. Related: See
how many minutes of exercise it takes to burn off popular appetizers.
Why doesn't physical activity produce the same
pound-dropping results as calorie restriction? One thought is that though exercise burns calories, it doesn't rev your
metabolism, says a study in Obesity Reviews
. It also doesn't prevent your metabolism from slowing as you lose
pounds. As you slim down-via any method-your metabolism slows incrementally with your weight loss and, despite what many
believe, exercising doesn't keep that from happening. As you lose weight, you burn fewer calories via exercise. For example,
a 150-pound person who works the elliptical for 30 minutes burns about 306 calories. After losing 10 pounds, that person will
burn about 286 calories doing the same workout. So to burn 306 calories, you'd need to extend your workout. Think diet
exercise combined equals more weight lost? Guess again: research shows people who diet and exercise for weight
loss drop the same amount of weight as people who only diet. They are, however, more successful keeping the weight off than
their counterparts who simply eat less. Bottom line:
Cut calories to lose weight. But add in
some activity to stay slim long term. Plus, exercise can boost your mood and energy.