Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.
Each are powerfully important when it comes to our overall health, physical composition, and in the prevention of diseases.
When combined together, the compounded gains are off the charts.
But each in their own right can be powerfully impactful, even in the absence of the other.
And while I never like to promote decoupling them, a very interesting study looked into the effects of two very popular diets when used in isolation by young adults who are obese and lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Now, let there be no doubt about it: an active lifestyle is far superior to a sedentary lifestyle when done safely as physical activity and training is vital to human health, physical performance even in ordinary tasks, and longevity.
But with that said, information like this is more important today than ever before. The vast majority of us lead lifestyles that lend themselves to being sedentary. We work behind desks, travel in vehicles, etc.
The lives we lead require us to incorporate activity into them, whereas our ancestors led lives that left no choice but to be active.
Hence, many people today, even the most active among us, are more sedentary than ever before and we can use all the help we can get to combat that.
Additionally, some people may be in such a state of health that may preclude them from much physical activity, so knowing which diet or diets may be superior to others in terms of boosting health absent physical activity is hugely important.
With that said, researchers from a number of institutions in Greece collaborated to study the effect on body composition and different health markers in overweight and sedentary young people that was had by consuming either a reduced calorie Mediterranean diet, a reduced calorie high-protein diet from whole foods alone, or a reduced calorie high-protein diet with whey protein supplementation.
Published in the November-December edition of the journal Nutrition, they found that while all three diets resulted in a decrease in overall body mass, interestingly only the Mediterranean diet resulted in a decrease in fat mass as well.
Importantly, both of the high-protein diets resulted in significant increases in subclinical inflammation and muscle damage indices as well while the Mediterranean diet did not.
The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, was the only one of the three that beneficially altered the lipid profile.
So what does this study tell us?
Absent other influencing factors such as exercise, it appears that those who live a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight could achieve better overall health outcomes, including fat loss and an improved blood lipid profile, by simply adopting the Mediterranean diet over a high-protein diet.
This could be very important news for those who are unable or have great difficulty in incorporating physical activity into their daily lives and need to improve their overall health and body composition in order to help them become more active.
It is important to note that since this analysis is absent other influencing factors such as exercise. It is possible that the health markers might look different for someone who does exercise, although this study does not indicate that one way or another.
At the end of the day, while it appears based on the results of this study that those who are overweight and sedentary can reap positive health benefits simply by consuming a healthy Mediterranean diet, for those who are able to, strength training is still paramount to our overall health.
Which, again, is why this information could be so important for those who need to work their way into a state where they can be physically active and even strength train once again.
Some of the benefits of strength training include lowering of all-cause mortality, slowing aging, helping to overcome pulmonary embolisms, usefulness to yourself and those around you in all sorts of daily life activities, helping to prevent falls, and just plain feeling good.
So while you are adopting a nutritious diet that can boost your overall health, be sure to talk to a professional about incorporating strength training that works for you so you can become the whole package, living your greatest life possible.
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