Making New Year’s resolutions is a reality for many people at this time, and weight loss in general is on their list of promises. Before 2022 arrives, the IAEA noted that at the “core of decisions” joining the gym or following an intense diet promises good results in a short period of time.
A study conducted by the Agency for Nuclear Technology, highlighted that the “exercise plus diet” formula does not achieve the same result for everyone, and indicated the true effectiveness of physical activity in losing weight. “Exercise alone does not help with weight loss,” said Alexia Alford, a nutrition expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency. According to her, it is also necessary to reduce calories in food.
Specialist John Speakman, one of the agency’s study authors, revealed that some people lose a little weight with physical activity, others lose a lot, but there are still “unlucky people who gain weight,” even during exercise.
The main finding of the IAEA’s research was the following: The calories burned on a treadmill or on a bicycle do not really reflect the calories the body loses. In people with a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 24.9), the body will compensate for the calories burned during exercise by 28%. This means that only 72% of the calories burned from physical activity will actually be lost throughout the day.
The International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that with increasing age and weight, the ratio gets worse: people with a higher BMI will lose only 51% of calories burned during physical activity.
The conclusion of the study was drawn from the data obtained with a nuclear technology using water enriched with two types of isotopes: deuterium and oxygen-18. Participants drank this water and then had their urine analyzed for between seven and 14 days, allowing the researchers to very accurately calculate each person’s total energy expenditure.
The IAEA explained that this technique is not new, but it is very expensive, and therefore studies of this kind have been on a small scale. In 2018, a group of researchers decided to expand the scope of research, and the IAEA database currently contains information on more than 7,600 people who have undergone this technique.
The study also confirmed that obese people find it more difficult to lose weight, because their bodies are “effective at retaining already stored fat.” Alexia Alford, a nutritionist at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and co-author of the study, noted that physical activity actually brings many health benefits, but that relying solely on exercise will not lead to weight loss. The specialist explained that by increasing activity, the body compensates in other areas, reduces calories lost in breathing and digestion, and maintains general body functions. The UN agency expert advises people to maintain a balanced lifestyle, including a diet that maintains a sufficient calorie deficit for weight loss.
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