Diet vs. Exercise for Weight Loss

As we reported a few weeks ago, recent research has shown that any kind of exercise can help people with diabetes improve their blood glucose control. Now, a new study has shown that diet and exercise can be equally effective at stimulating weight loss and improving Type 2 diabetes risk factors. However, data from the same study also shows that dieting without exercise can increase a person’s risk of bone loss.


The study, conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, looked at a group of about 50 overweight (but not obese) men and women, average age 57, who did not exercise regularly but were otherwise healthy. The researchers divided these men and women into three groups: a calorie-restriction (diet) group that ate less but did not exercise; an exercise group that continued to eat its normal amount of calories but engaged in exercise (such as brisk walking) for about an hour most days; and a control group that received healthy lifestyle advice.

The first set of study results, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that after one year the diet and exercise groups lost similar amounts of weight and body fat and experienced similar improvements in glucose tolerance and insulin action (thereby lowering their risk for Type 2 diabetes) compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that losing weight through dieting and losing weight through exercise appeared to be equally effective methods of improving diabetes risk factors in middle-aged adults.

However, another analysis of the same study participants, published in the December 11/25 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that the men and women who lost weight through diet but did not exercise also lost bone mineral density at the hip and spine, raising their risk for osteoporosis and fractures. The control group did not experience bone
loss—nor did exercise group, even though it experienced a similar amount of weight loss to the diet group.

These results led the researchers to conclude that it is important to combine exercise with diet to experience weight loss without losing bone. Exercise is believed to protect against bone loss by producing a “healthy” strain on the bones that stimulates them to produce new tissue. The researchers also emphasized that exercise provides other benefits, such as muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, that cutting calories alone cannot.

For more information on osteoporosis, bone health, and diabetes, please see the article Boning Up on Bone Health.

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  • Victoria E. Gelfond

    I would like to no if I could get a 1000 cal. diet plan ???????????????

  • Tara Dairman, Web Editor

    Hi Victoria,

    Your best bet for coming up with a meal plan that fits your needs is to meet with a registered dietitian who works with people with diabetes. Your doctor should be able to refer you to someone, or you can look for a dietitian at, the homepage of the American Dietetic Association.

    You may also want to check out these “Tools for Meal Planning”, which include books and other tools that can help you plan your meals.

  • marysmith

    Hello, This is Mary

    I am 36 years old with 2 toddlers. My youngest just started day care last week- which still feels a little strange. I haven’t had this much time to myself in years. First thing I want to do is lose the extra pounds I put on during the last pregnancy. One of the girls next door has suggested I join her walking group two days a week. After my first pregnancy I lost around 35 pounds using the Herbalife products, but when I called the man that sold them to me three years ago he told me this week he doesn’t sell them anymore. He told me to look on the internet. It’s disappointing because he was really nice and he called me regularly to make sure I was using their products correctly. It was nice to have someone checking in with me every week to see how I was and it kept me motivated.

    I searched on the internet for someone that sells Herbalife in New Jersey. I found many websites but I don’t want
    just to buy the products, I want to find someone trustworthy that sells the products so I can also meet them and get started again.

    Could anybody here recommend someone in New Brunswick?

    Thanks, Mary

  • liz.johnson66

    Hi Mary,

    >From one mom to another I think I have a solution for you!! I want to lose 40 pounds, and I’ve lost 28 so far!!! I am feeling fantastic and have more energy than I did when I was in college. I went through three different Herbalife distributors until I found the person I felt really actually cared about me and helped me to start getting results. The bottom line was that I wanted to find somebody that could offer me good prices, but that could also check in with me to make sure I was doing ok.

    I used to drive two hours to meet with my first distributor in West Haven, Connecticut. I even brought the girls with me a few times because I couldn’t find a babysitter. Today my Herbalife coach does everything over the phone and it is much easier with my busy schedule. You can order Herbalife online on his website, you get the shakes a few days after with FedEx and then you can setup a telephone meeting once a week to make sure you are doing the program right.

    His name is Danny Castello and his website is The number is (310) 928- 3835. He and his girlfriend Michaela actually do most of the coaching together as a team, but she has an Herbalife site as well: He does most of the motivation on the call and gives you important facts regarding nutrition. He can be a bit tough but he really wants you to get results. She is a bit softer- so they make a good combination. Actually I also recommend joining his newsletter first so you can see the articles on nutrition. They also have videos so you can see who they are before actually calling them. Its nice because they actually use the products too. You can see on their websites.

    Hope this helps!


  • DrewTree12

    Last week, I started the 2009 National Body Challenge that Discovery Health kicked off for the new year. Some great exercise guides, diet tips, and recipes to start your new year on the right track! You can check it out and register for free here:

  • Ginny Crandall

    Thanks for the article. My dad has type 2 diabetes and heart disease runs in my family on both sides. I know I need to exercise for weight loss not just for now, but for when I am more susceptible to diabetes in the future. Any help or ideas you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

  • Mari Ann Lisenbe

    I think we do both (diet and exercise) we could get a better result and no complication. This article can open up the mind of those readers who just restrict their food intake just to loose weight with out understanding the consequences what they could get in the end.

  • jim snell

    Given that those in zero gravity or close to it in water – diving and outer space clearly show body removing bone ( not needed) and that exercise is critical to keep bone density up.

    As a type 2 diabetic, exercise and diet are key critical. Diet alone can’t cut it. Been there – done that.

  • One thing I’d like to discuss is that weight loss program fast may be possible by the perfect diet and exercise. An individual’s size not just affects the look, but also the quality of life. Self-esteem, despression symptoms, health risks, along with physical capabilities are impacted in an increase in weight. It is possible to just make everything right whilst still having a gain. If this happens, a problem may be the primary cause. While a lot of food and never enough body exercise are usually at fault, common medical ailments and widespread prescriptions can easily greatly help to increase size. Thx for your post in this article.