MONDAY, Aug. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — “You can’t run from the fork.”
It’s an old weight-loss saying, reminding folks that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to shedding excess pounds.
But is that true for everyone?
New research suggests there’s a category of “diet-resistant” people who need to work out and watch what they eat if they want to shed pounds.
In fact, these folks should prioritize exercise, because it decreases their fat mass and boosts their muscles’ ability to burn calories, the Canadian study concluded.
“We found that the slow losers responded much better to exercise than the fast losers did,” said senior study author Mary-Ellen Harper. She is research chair of mitochondrial bioenergetics at the University of Ottawa.
“We hope these findings will allow a better, more personalized approach for adults with obesity who are seeking to lose weight, and especially those individuals who have very great difficulties losing weight,” Harper said.
She noted that previous research has shown that the ability of muscle cells to burn energy varies widely between people.
People who struggle to lose weight tend to have very efficient muscle cells; these cells are very good at storing energy rather than burning it away, Harper said.
In fact, sometimes a diet will slow down a person’s metabolism even more, said David Creel, a psychologist and registered dietitian in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
“Their metabolism reacts to this lower calorie intake by becoming even more efficient,” Creel said. “They’re not going to respond as well because they’re just not burning as many calories.”
To see if exercise could change that up, Harper and her colleagues mined clinical data from more than 5,000 people who’d participated in a low-calorie weight-loss program at Ottawa Hospital.
The program restricted people to 900 calories a day, but there still was a group of people who lost weight at a much lower rate than others.
From those records, the researchers matched 10 “diet-resistant” people with 10 “diet-sensitive” women, and had them all take part in a six-week exercise program. The participants were matched based on their age, weight and BMI, and told to eat as usual.