Diet vs. Exercise

Dr. Margit Lister with Wasatch OBGYN, has the skinny on the diet vs. exercise debate.

Weight Loss

We all know that diet and exercise are the best to loose weight, but what if you don’t have time for both? Which should you concentrate on? The answer is DIET.

There are several very good published clinical trials that show that diet alone is almost as effective as diet and exercise.

For a 15 wk clinical trial

Weight loss with Exercise 7 lbs
Weight loss with Diet 17 lbs
Weight loss with Diet and Exercise 20 lbs

The key to keeping your weight off is diet and exercise. 70% of your weight is kept off with diet and exercise, as diet alone or exercise alone will allow you to gain 50% of it back at one year.

Boost Energy

Better diet or exercise? Exercise! Granted there are stimulants (sugar and caffeine) that will boost your energy in the short term, but long term increased energy comes from exercise. Regular activity has been clinically proven to decrease your fatigue and feelings of low energy.

Improve Sleep

Change your eating habits or exercise? Exercise! Exercise in the morning has been to shown to enhance your ability to fall asleep and create a more restful sleep. The important thing to remember is that exercise should be done early in the day and not closer than 5-6 hours of going to bed. Avoiding stimulants and alcohol prior to going to bed is also helpful.

Reduce the Risk of heart Disease

Diet or exercise? Both! A diet with excess omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids will prevent heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids decreases a person’s triglycerides (the fat particles in your blood that can clog your arteries), slightly increases your good cholesterol (that cleans your arteries) and has a significant impact on your risk of cardiovascular disease. The addition of omega-3 fatty acids also decreases a person’s overall risk of death.

Exercise is know to decrease your overall risk for heart disease by 30% when preformed 5 times a week for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.

Prevent Diabetes

Whole grains or brisk walk after meals? Exercise, has been clearly associated with a decrease in the development of type 2 diabetes. The most effective regimen to prevent diabetes is 30 minutes, 5 times a week of moderate intensity exercise. This benefit is especially helpful immediately after meals to help metabolize sugar from the meal.

Prevent Cancer

Fruits/veggies or dancing? You have to do both!! A diet that is heavy in fruits and veggies and 3-4 hours a week of physical activity will prevent cancer formation. The strongest evidence is 30% risk reduction for breast and colon cancer. There is also a 20-30% reduction in lung, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.

Improve Mood

Eat better or get active? Exercise! Regular physical activity protects you from developing depression or a major depressive disorder. There is also evidence that regular activity will help alleviate anxiety and prevent anxiety related symptoms. Exercise has also been shown to increase your self-esteem promoting your overall well-being.

All this positive information about exercise makes me want to get out and move! My patients are always telling me that they don’t have time. I know it’s hard to work into your schedule. But you just have to do it.

I look at it this way.

If you don’t make time for HEALTH, you’re going to HAVE to make time for illness….

Dr. Margit Lister is an OBGYN with Intermountain Health Care. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit:

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