Finding the Synergistic Combination of Exercise and Nutritional Intervention Isn't Easy

Andy Peloquin

Personal Training


Finding the Synergistic Combination of Exercise and Nutritional Intervention Isn't Easy - Fitness, nutrition, fitness, fat burning, muscle growth, muscle mass, Trending


We've all heard it said that abs are made in the kitchen. This is intended to mean that a balanced, calorie-moderated diet has a greater effect on weight loss and fat burning than the exercise you do. But what about for muscle-building? Is nutrition really the most important thing, or is exercise the factor that has the greatest effect on muscular growth?



A team of researchers from the International Osteoporosis Foundation set out to answer that question. They examined 37 studies that used both physical exercise and diet (including supplements) to enhance muscular growth.


The effect of resistance training on muscle growth is well-documented. We also know that dietary supplements like creatine, BCAAs, vitamin D, multivitamins, and others can also play a role in the formation of new muscle cells. The researchers wanted to determine which had the greatest effect on the muscles. Through their analysis of the 37 studies, they found:


  • Exercise led to a muscle mass increase in 79% of the studies.
  • An additional increase in muscular growth when nutritional intervention was included was seen in 23.5% of the studies.
  • Increases in muscular strength were seen as a result of the exercise in 82.8% of the studies.
  • Dietary intervention only led to increases in 22.8% of the studies.
  • Physical performance improved in 92.8% of the studies that involved exercise but only in 14.3% of the studies that focused on nutritional interventions.



Let's be clear: all 37 of these studies looked at the effects of nutrition and exercise for seniors (older than 60). However, if there's one thing this analysis proved, it's that exercise is far more important for muscular growth, muscular strength, and physical performance.


Yes, diet is vital for weight loss, fat burning, and improved overall health. If you don't eat right, you'll never be able to lose weight and get in shape, even if you spend hours in the gym. Proper nutrition is the key to getting your body composition to healthy levels.


Professor Elaine Dennison, Professor of Musculoskeletal Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant in Rheumatology within Medicine at the University of Southampton, noted:


"Among the challenges in carrying out this study was the great heterogeneity in the RCTs (randomized controlled trials), including in the exercise protocols and in the dosage of supplementation, all of which contributes to the variable findings between studies.


Nevertheless, the results of the systematic review show the overwhelming positive impact of exercise interventions. One should also bear in mind that the majority of studies included in this systematic review looked at primarily healthy older subjects.


It is likely that populations with nutritional or physical deficiencies would benefit more from nutritional interventions than well-nourished populations."



1. C. Beaudart, A. Dawson, S. C. Shaw, N. C. Harvey, J. A. Kanis, N. Binkley, J. Y. Reginster, R. Chapurlat, D. C. Chan, O. Bruyère, R. Rizzoli, C. Cooper, E. M. Dennison. "Nutrition and physical activity in the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia: systematic review." Osteoporosis International, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s00198-017-3980-9.

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