We all know the age-old weight loss adage; ‘move more, eat less’, but now it seems it may not be the best advice, especially if you’re over 40.
A study in 2019 revealed that just a 30 percent drop in calories, equivalent to 1400 calories per day for women, combined with exercise, could lead to bone density loss.
The study was conducted by researchers at The University of North Carolina, who compared the effects of exercise on mice fed a standard diet and a diet with 30 percent less calories than normal. The results showed that although exercise increased bone mass on mice fed a normal diet, it actually had the opposite effect on mice fed the fewer calories.
If you were to drop calories even further, the effects on bone health would be even more detrimental.
Georgios Tzenichristos is a Nutritionist and Director of London’s LipoTherapeia aesthetic practice. He explains: ‘We all know that exercise increases bone mass and reduces bone fat, while excess calories tend to increase fat in the bones, leading to osteoporosis. So one would expect that combining exercise and diet should lead to even better bone health. Yet, this study shows the opposite.’
So why is diet and exercise together so bad for our bone health?
‘The secret lies in bone energy reserves. When we diet, to minimise bone mass, we tend to accumulate fatty acids in the bone marrow to serve the local energy needs in the bone.
‘This study has shown that fatty acid absorption inside the bone has increased by 4,088 percent on the diet mice. By adding exercise into the mix, those emergency energy reserves were depleted, leaving bone cells starving and unable to repair and build bone mass,’ add Georgios.
Why is this especially bad for women over 40?
If you’re a woman over 40, the risk on bone health is higher as bone quality starts to naturally decline thanks to the menopause.
It’s not just bones that are affected. Georgios reveals that low calorie diets and exercise are also bad for the skin.
‘The body does not have enough nutrients to repair both muscles and skin with the reduced food intake and the increased tissue breakdown due to exercise.’
He adds that the best way to lose weight is to first diet for a few weeks, combined with only mild exercise such as walking, and then gradually ease off the diet and increase your exercise intensity and duration.
‘In this way you lose the bulk of the weight with a strict – but never extreme – diet and then maintain it with exercise and healthy eating.’
For more information, visit www.lipotherapeia.com