By Erinn Connor
Going on a diet and starting an exercise routine are the keys to losing weight and getting in shape, and a new study suggests that starting both at once is better than trying one at a time.
Researchers started with 200 people over the age of 45 who were inactive and did not eat well. They were split into four groups: new diet and exercise habits at the same time; diet changes first and starting exercise a few months later; starting exercise first and making diet changes a few months later; and no diet or exercise changes.
After being tracked for a year, researchers found that those who adopted a new diet and exercise plan at the same time were most likely to meet national guidelines for exercise (150 minutes a week) and diet (five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day) and to keep their saturated fat levels low.
Even so, the most successful group at first had trouble meeting their exercise goal, but did so within the year. Researchers added that if you’re only able to start with one lifestyle change, pick exercise, as changing your food habits could interfere with creating an exercise routine. Establishing the routine can also take time for those with busy schedules, whereas food changes are easier to incorporate into your daily life.
“With dietary habits, you have no choice; you have to eat,” said study author Abby King, a professor of health research and policy at Stanford University. “You don’t have to find extra time to eat because it’s already in your schedule. So the focus is more on substituting the right kinds of food to eat.”
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