What's the best way to lose weight with minimal effort?


It's the annual concerted promise  Americans make —vowing to shed some pounds. 

If you're one of the many who are trying to lose weight, but struggling, you're probably wondering how you can best do so with the minimum effort. Exercising for hours per day may not sound ideal, or even practical. 

»RELATED: Want to lose more weight? Ditch your diet for a couple of weeks, study suggests

Well, according to doctors and leading weight-loss experts, more exercise isn't actually the quickest or most efficient way to reach your ideal waist line.

"Studies tend to show that in terms of weight loss, diet plays a much bigger role than exercise," Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas, told Business Insider.

Stanforth explained that exercise actually burns less calories than people think. It also requires consistent effort, meaning it takes much longer to see results than simply fixing your diet.

"You'd have to walk 35 miles to burn 3,500 calories. That's a lot of walking. But if you look at eating, a Snickers bar might have, say, 500 calories. It's going to be a lot easier to cut the Snickers bar than to do 5 miles of walking every day," he explained, (note that a normal Snickers bar is actually about 220 calories, while a Snickers '2-to-go' is 440).

Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, voiced a similar expert opinion. However, he also suggested a combination of diet and exercise is the ideal weight loss solution.

"As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart," Talbott explained to the Huffington Post. "On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It's much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to 'undo' it!"

California-based nutritionist and dietitian Kimberly Slater, MS, RD told AJC in November that when an individual is working on building a chiseled frame, diet is absolutely key.

"When you neglect your nutrition you neglect your workout," Slater said. "The best remedy is to eat healthier."

And the scientific evidence is there to back the expert advice. 

A review of 20 different studies published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2014, which overall looked at the diets of some 3,000 individuals, revealed that high-protein diets and low-calorie meal replacements helped people keep weight off better than exercise.

»RELATED: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Another 2011 review examined the relationship between fat mass and physical activity in children. The results showed that less physical activity is not the principle factor driving unhealthy weight among kids.

At the same time, while removing calories from your diet may have the quickest impact on your waistline, experts caution that exercise is important as well.

"A combination of diet and exercise is best at any stage of weight loss," Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and PROMIX Nutrition told Women's Health. "Exercise should be a mix of strength training and cardiovascular training, not just cardio. Both modes of exercise burn calories and, in turn, lead to stored fat being used as a source of energy."

Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama told Huffington Post that is an important component to weight loss.

"Without [exercise], only a portion of your weight loss is from fat — you're also stripping away muscle and bone density. Since working out stimulates growth of those metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you're burning mostly fat," Olson explained. "The number on the scale may not sound as impressive, but because muscle takes up less space than fat does, you look smaller and your clothes fit better."

»RELATED: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

As you work toward your weight loss goal, cutting calories will show you the quickest results. But for the best results, increase your physical activity as well.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Health

Here’s how to make sure your pooch is ready for the new baby 
Here’s how to make sure your pooch is ready for the new baby 

Your dog is a member of the family, right? So when that family expands to include a new little human member, your pup is one of the many "loved ones" you'll need to prepare for the arrival of a baby. Expectant parents can take heart from the multitudes of social media compilations featuring gentle dogs playing with their angelic baby...
5 things every parent should know about immunization
5 things every parent should know about immunization

Within the first few months of your child's life, your pediatrician will likely start talking to you about immunizations. Even if your house is stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, it's important to know what options are out there to keep your kid safe from diseases that could have harmful consequences. TheWorld Health Organization defines...
UPDATE: These authors are finalists for Dayton Literary Peace Prize 
UPDATE: These authors are finalists for Dayton Literary Peace Prize 

A love story, an immigration story and a freedom story are among those in the running to be the 2018 winners of the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction and nonfiction. Organizers announced this morning a dozen finalists in the two categories.  Established in 2006 as an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, The Dayton Literary Peace...
Could your child be gifted? Here's what you need to know 
Could your child be gifted? Here's what you need to know 

Just about every parent has heard their child say something that seems advanced for his age. Or seen her show off an impressive new skill and wondered, "Is my child is gifted?" Of course, each child has special talents and interests, but giftedness is usually identified in specific ways. What does it mean to be gifted and what traits could...
Lily’s Bistro shines spotlight on YUMMY produce at Very Veggie Feast on Tuesday
Lily’s Bistro shines spotlight on YUMMY produce at Very Veggie Feast on Tuesday

This Tuesday, Lily’s Bistro will be hosting an all vegan celebration in tribute to summer produce in Ohio. It’s a rare food event in town that will work for people focused on different plant-based diets, and a great way for meat eaters to celebrate not only healthy and green dining, but Lily’s Bistro’s fifth anniversary. The...
More Stories