Exercise cannot equate dietary restriction, says endocrinologist
“It is important to be physically active all day long than go for a perfunctory walk for half and hour and turn into a couch potato for the rest of the day.”
The statement coming in the middle of an intriguingly titled session, ‘Is weight loss a waste of time in Type 2 diabetes mellitus?' evoked guffaws and nods of agreement from doctors at the annual diabetes conference on Sunday.
Sustained and persistent lifestyle modification and not a flash-in-the pan effort is required to achieve weight loss for prevention and control of diabetes, asserted Usha Sriram, senior consultant endocrinologist and director, ACCER, Chennai, at the pre-lunch session in the conference hosted by the Diabetes Club of Tiruchi.
To that end, being physically active is more important than half an hour of exercise.
Sustained weight loss is possible only when an activity is fun and not treated as a chore. It is common for people to raise questions like ‘Should I go for a walk or join a gym?'. Walking a dog or gardening may contribute effectively to diabetes management than a detested early morning walk. But activities like gymming and jogging can work for those who love it.
Noting that weight loss in some cases is motivated by spending money and herd mentality, she said people would lose money but not weight in the longer run as they are driven by guilt of spending money.
Yet it is necessary to reinforce weight reduction and promote healthy lifestyle for multiple studies have proved that lifestyle modification can contribute effectively to prevention and control of diabetes.
Exercise cannot substitute or equate calorific restriction through diet for exercise tones muscles, makes people feel fit and happier. “Even if you burn 30 calories during a walk, even a can of Pepsi or a bag of chips can bring you back to square one.” But it is important to strike a balance between diet and physical activity as only so much can be controlled by eating.
“It is important to realise that weight loss does not work scientifically always or follow the first rule of thermodynamics.” Sustained weight loss is not possible with controlled eating on weekdays and binging on the weekend.
The body adapts by lowering metabolic rates when an individual is set on a diet and the body's metabolism cannot handle feasting on the weekend.
Though weight loss is possible it is not easy. It is not a waste of time, but definitely consumes time, admitted Dr. Usha. Sustained engagement of practitioners and patients is necessary for effective control of diabetes.
Doctors must empower patients by educating them on the safe way to lose weight. The mantra lies in reinforcement that persistent lifestyle modification will work.