Calorie restriction or exercise: Effects on coronary heart disease risk factors. A randomized, controlled trial

Luigi Fontana, Dennis T. Villareal, Edward P. Weiss, Susan B. Racette, Karen Steger-May, Samuel Klein, John O. Holloszy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors and the risk of CHD increase with increased adiposity. Fat loss induced by negative energy balance improves all metabolic CHD risk factors. To determine whether fat loss induced by long-term calorie restriction (CR) or increased energy expenditure induced by exercise (EX) has different effects on CHD risk factors in nonobese subjects, we conducted a 1-yr controlled trial involving 48 nonobese subjects who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: CR, 20% CR diet (n = 18); EX, 20% increase in energy expenditure through daily exercise with no increase in energy intake (n = 18); or HL, healthy lifestyle guidelines (n = 10). Subjects were 29 women and 17 men aged 57 ± 3 yr, with BMI 27.3 ± 2.0 kg/m2. Assessments included total body fat by DEXA, lipoproteins, blood pressure, HOMA-IR, C-reactive protein (CRP), and estimated 10-yr CHD risk score. Body fat decreased by 6.3 ± 3.8 kg in CR, 5.6 ± 4.4 kg in EX, and 0.4 ± 1.7 kg in HL, which corresponded to reductions of 24.9, 22.3, and 1.2% of baseline body fat mass, respectively. These CR- and EX-induced energy deficits were accompanied by reductions in most of the major CHD risk factors, including plasma LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, HOMA-IR index, and CRP concentrations that were similar in the two intervention groups. Data from the present study provide evidence that CR- and EX-induced negative energy balance result in substantial and similar improvements in the major risk factors for CHD in normal-weight and overweight middle-aged adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E197-E202
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • C-reactive protein
  • Cholesterol
  • Insulin resistance

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