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There is debate about the additive effects of exercise in conjunction with diet to treat obesity, and not much is known about the differential effects of strength versus aerobic training. This randomized controlled trial examined the effects of diet plus strength training, diet plus aerobic training, or diet only on metabolic risk factors associated with obesity. Eighty-one overweight and obese participants completed the 8-week intervention. All participants received an energy-restrictive formula diet with an energy content based on 70% of measured resting metabolic rate (RMR). Participants assigned to an exercise group trained 3 days/week under supervision. Anthropometrics and fasting hormones were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Mean weight loss (8.5 ± 4.3kg SD) did not differ between groups nor did reductions in BMI or body fat, although the diet plus strength training group showed marginally greater lean mass retention. There were significant improvements in the values and number of metabolic syndrome risk factors, and decreases in insulin concentrations and insulin resistance, which did not vary between groups. For men, testosterone increased significantly more in the diet plus aerobic training as compared to the other groups. As compared to diet alone, the addition of strength or aerobic training did not improve changes in BMI, body fat, or metabolic risk factors although the diet plus strength training group showed a trend toward preservation of lean mass, and the diet plus aerobic group in men resulted in increased testosterone.

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Originally published in the Journal of Diabetes and Obesity, 1(1), 1–7. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. doi:10.15436/2376-0494.14.001