Tags: wellness, fitness

Aug 28, 2017 — Improving diet and exercise are the key factors to a healthier you, but which one should you focus on first? Brita Trepp, certified physiologist with University of Utah Health, answers this week's listener question with some easy things you can do to get started to a healthier you.

Interview

Announcer: Need reliable health and wellness information? Don't listen to the guy in the cube next to you. Get it from a trusted source, straight from the doctor's mouth. Here's this week's listener question, on The Scope.

Interviewer: "Where should I start, diet or exercise?" This particular listener wants to get into better shape and wants to know if, you know, it's better to start with fixing your diet first and then moving on exercise, or do you exercise first and then the rest will follow. Certified exercise physiologist Britta Trepp, what do you say? Diet or exercise? What should you start first?

Britta: Both.

Interviewer: All Right. Well, I suppose we should define some terms first. So diet, what does that mean to you?

Britta: Yeah, when we say diet it doesn't mean a one-time diet, but rather a lifetime strategy of healthy eating. So most popular diets should be approached with caution you can talk to a registered dietitian to make sure that it makes sense for you, but healthy diets really aren't low carbohydrate necessarily, extremely low carbohydrate or very high protein. They're well-rounded and myplate.gov is the current recommendations for a healthy diet.

Interviewer: And that's not only healthy in the nutrients you get, but the sustainability of it too. Just being able to maintain that, I mean, it's really hard to do a low carb diet for a long time.

Britta: Right and oftentimes you will see that people will do an extreme diet, and they'll often lose the weight, but then gain it again.

Interviewer: Yeah, is that because they just can't sustain that diet and then all of a sudden, now they're bingeing on carbohydrates?

Britta: Certainly. A lot of the fad diets are low-calorie. They're not surprising when people lose weight if you're actually looking at the diet, but it isn't sustainable long term.

Interviewer: All right, and that resource again for a good diet?

Britta: myplate.gov.

Interviewer: All right. Now, let's talk about exercise. What does that mean? Does that mean I got to go to the gym and be an Olympic power lifter?

Britta: Yeah, exercise really, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity. Moderate to vigorous means you can hold a conversation, but you might not be able to sing a song, okay? So that's the intensity that we're talking about. Thirty minutes, five days a week.

Interviewer: All right, so when I asked the question, "Where should I start? Diet or exercise?" I would imagine, and I can't speak for this listener, but that's making some assumptions, right? Like diet is going to be super hard so I got to really concentrate, or this exercise part is going to be super hard so I got to really just concentrate on that, but you're saying there's some moderation in there.

Britta: Right, even small tweaks make big changes.

Interviewer: All right, like what for example?

Britta: For example, I worked with a client who is working on changing his body composition, he actually cut out just added sugar for one month and lost 10 pounds of fat. So in addition, to maybe cutting out just one simple thing with a diet to become healthier, you can break up your sedentary time. So these are also small tweaks, if you are able to get up and move every hour, one to five minutes, you are able to accumulate up to 30 minutes a day.

Interviewer: Let's talk a little bit about what the ultimate goal is here. When somebody is asking the question, "Where should I start, diet or exercise?" they're probably trying to change their body composition a little bit.

Britta: Yeah, the ultimate goal is to become a healthier composition. So the numbers on the scale, how much you weigh doesn't tell the whole story. Now, you can weigh quite a bit and actually be composed of mostly muscle which is metabolically active. So we always recommend instead of looking at the scale actually doing Bod Pod body composition test so that you can look at plus or minus 2% what your actual composition ends.

Interviewer: And that's how much fat you have, excess body fat. A certain amount is healthy, but most of us are carrying around probably more than we need to.

Britta: Certainly. Males and females each have separate amounts of body fat that are essential for normal biological processes, but we can track not only where you are now and make small goals and tweaks year after year, but we can also, if you are an athlete, say, "Okay, we're performing really well at this certain body composition and that can be a goal for us moving forward."

Interviewer: Some of the, I think, mistakes that some people make though is they think that losing those numbers on the scale is, like you said, the ultimate goal where they could be really shorting themselves of calories and losing valuable muscle as well. Talk about that a little bit.

Britta: Yeah, so just as with weight loss, diet and exercise are both part of the puzzle. With exercise, cardiovascular activity as well as strengthening activity are essential. So we could act like a gerbil on a treadmill all day long and just zoom, zoom, zoom around. If we are not doing resistance training whether that's body weight exercises or standard lifting in a gym, we will lose some of our muscle mass and that is honestly very metabolically active. It is good to keep.

Interviewer: So an answer to the question, "Where should I start? Diet or exercise?" You should do both.

Britta: Yes. The research says that both are the most beneficial for weight loss.

Interviewer: Got you. And if you need some help who would you recommend somebody get in touch with?

Britta: Yeah, here at the University of Utah we have a clinic called PEAK Health and Fitness. We have registered dietitian as well as certified exercise physiologists, and they can work together to come up with a program for you so that you can get on the right track.

Interviewer: And for those that aren't in this area try to find a similar resource probably in your own community and I think probably one of the most helpful parts of that is you have a plan in front of you then.

Britta: Certainly, yeah. It's often very good to track. It'll keep you honest. So I know on my desk I have a little, it's actually a little black book, that I track my weekly exercise and I see every day, and I open it up and I know that I want to add more to it. So it's very visible in my life.

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