Effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution

Leanne M. Redman, Leonie Heilbronn, Corby K. Martin, Anthony Alfonso, Steven R. Smith, Eric Ravussin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

192 Citations (Scopus)


Context: There is debate over the independent and combined effects of dieting and increased physical activity on improving metabolic risk factors (body composition and fat distribution). Objective: The objective of the study was to conduct a randomized, controlled trial (CALERIE) to test the effect of a 25% energy deficit by diet alone or diet plus exercise for 6 months on body composition and fat distribution. Design: This was a randomized, controlled trial. Setting: The study was conducted at an institutional research center. Participants: Thirty-five of 36 overweight but otherwise healthy participants (16 males, 19 females) completed the study. Intervention: Participants were randomized to either control (healthy weight maintenance diet, n = 11), caloric restriction (CR; 25% reduction in energy intake, n = 12), or caloric restriction plus exercise (CR+EX; 12.5% reduction in energy intake + 12.5% increase in exercise energy expenditure, n = 12) for 6 months. Main Outcome Measures: Changes in body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and changes in abdominal fat distribution by multislice computed tomography were measured. Results: The calculated energy deficit across the intervention was not different between CR and CR+EX. Participants lost approximately 10% of body weight (CR: - 8.3 ± 0.8, CR+EX: - 8.1 ± 0.8 kg, P = 1.00), approximately 24% of fat mass (CR: - 5.8 ± 0.6, CR+EX: - 6.4 ± 0.6 kg, P = 0.99), and 27% of abdominal visceral fat (CR: 0.9 ± 0.2, CR+EX: 0.8 ± 0.2 kg, P = 1.00). Both whole-body and abdominal fat distribution were not altered by the intervention. Conclusion: Exercise plays an equivalent role to CR in terms of energy balance; however, it can also improve aerobic fitness, which has other important cardiovascular and metabolic implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-872
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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