Dieting by reducing calorie intake alone has no significant impact on weight loss according to a new study conducted at the Oregon Health & Science University. Instead, in the absence of calories to burn, our bodies automatically compensate by reducing our physical activity in order to conserve energy.
The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, was conducted at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. During the study, scientists studied a group of 18 macaque monkeys which were fed on very high fat diets for several years. They were then placed on a 30% reduced calorie diet plan for one month while their weight and activity were closely monitored. Interestingly, there was no significant weight loss witnessed in the primates; however their activity levels reduced significantly. During the second month of research the calorie intake of the monkeys was reduced even further. However, rather than any noticeable reduction in monkeys’ weight, their activity levels dropped even more.
During the same period another group of monkeys was kept on the normal diet plan, but were also trained to exercise on the treadmill for one hour daily. By the end of the research period, this group of monkeys did lose weight.
What this demonstrates, according to the researchers, is that our bodies have an in-built mechanism to help conserve energy when food is scarce. When we diet by reducing our calorie intake, this mechanism automatically kicks in, thus preventing serious weight loss. What is really required for weight loss is a combination of exercise as well as a reduced calorie diet.
As for those individuals who want to lose weight but aren’t used to strenuous exercise, there is hope. Modern research has allowed scientists to develop nutritional supplements which stimulate metabolism, thereby reducing body fat, without exercise. One such product is Profect, developed by a nutritional research company called Protica, which provides a zero fat, high protein diet, while simultaneously stimulating weight loss through increased metabolism.