Study Shows Older Adults Can Build Muscle and Lose Fat with Mediterranean Diet and Exercise
A recent study has revealed that older individuals who follow a lower-calorie Mediterranean diet and engage in minimal exercise up to six days a week can experience significant body fat loss and muscle gain. The findings of the study indicate that this combination of diet and exercise leads to a redistribution of body composition from fat to muscle.
Dr. David Katz, an expert in preventive and lifestyle medicine, explains that the participants in the study not only achieved a favorable body composition but also witnessed a reduction in dangerous visceral belly fat. Visceral fat, located deep within the abdomen, has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The research, which is part of an eight-year clinical trial in Spain aiming to reduce cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese individuals with metabolic syndrome, highlights the extended benefits of the Mediterranean diet and exercise. Dr. Katz notes that the study demonstrates that this diet and exercise regimen can mobilize harmful visceral fat in addition to aiding weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet followed by the study participants included proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and olive oil. The diet also restricted the consumption of added sugar, processed meats, and sweetened drinks. The study’s intervention group received support from trained dietitians and were encouraged to gradually increase their aerobic exercise.
After one year, the intervention group exhibited a modest reduction in body fat compared to the control group. Moreover, the intervention group experienced a more favorable body composition, including a decrease in grams of visceral fat mass. Both groups gained some lean muscle mass, but only the intervention group achieved a significant reduction in visceral fat.
The study’s findings suggest that individuals can significantly alter their metabolic status by adopting a calorie-controlled Mediterranean diet and engaging in regular exercise. However, it is worth noting that the effects of the diet and exercise regimen may diminish over time, as evidenced by the smaller fat loss and stable body fat observed in the control group over a three-year period.
The Mediterranean diet has been associated with various health benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression, and breast cancer. This diet encourages plant-based cooking, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil. It also limits the consumption of red meat and sugary or refined foods.
Importantly, the Mediterranean lifestyle emphasizes social interactions during meals and exercise, which contribute to overall well-being. This study serves as a reminder that maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity can have profound effects on health, particularly for the older population.
In conclusion, the study’s results indicate that older individuals can achieve muscle gain and fat loss by following a lower-calorie Mediterranean diet and engaging in minimal exercise. This finding emphasizes the potential of this diet and exercise regimen to not only promote weight loss but also target harmful visceral fat and improve body composition. As the Mediterranean diet has been linked to various health benefits, adopting this lifestyle may contribute to better overall health and well-being.
“Infuriatingly humble tv expert. Friendly student. Travel fanatic. Bacon fan. Unable to type with boxing gloves on.”