Which is More Important: Exercise or Diet?

It’s certainly not news that eating a balanced diet and regular exercise is the key to losing weight and maintaining results. But if you're working on getting a bikini-ready bod for summer, you might be wondering, is one more important than the other? Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have made it their mission to find out.

The team at Stanford split a group of 200 volunteers into four groups who each received a different type of telephone counseling. One group was taught how to change diet and exercise habits at the same time, another was taught how to make diet changes first then exercise changes a few months later, another was taught the reverse and the last group was taught stress management skills. The researchers then tracked the volunteers’ progress over the course of a year.

What they discovered was that people experienced the best weight-loss results when they focused on changing exercise and diet habits at the same. But if one had to be picked over the other, it turns out that exercise is the winner. The volunteers in this group ended up meeting both the exercise and diet goals whereas the “diet first” group found it difficult to make time for exercise. 

"It may be particularly useful to start both at the same time," says lead study author Abby King, PhD. "If you need to start with one, consider starting with physical activity first." But how much exercise do you really need?

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