To Your Health
May, 2022 (Vol. 16, Issue 05)
Avoiding the Cravings
By Editorial Staff
We know exercise helps reduce weight by burning calories, increasing metabolism and building lean muscle mass. But here's another reason exercise is so important in helping shed those unwanted pounds – and it's a big one.
Food cravings can jump even the most dedicated person off the rails. In fact, it's often the reason why weight-loss efforts fail. Things are going great ... until you have to have that cheeseburger and fries. That's where willpower comes in; but as we all know, willpower can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to food.
New research sheds light on why exercise is so beneficial for weight loss: in addition to the other weight-loss benefits listed above, it actually reduces food cravings - particularly cravings for fatty foods. Published in the research journal Obesity, the study used a rodent (rat) model, splitting the rats into two groups for comparison. One group participated in high-intensity treadmill running; the second group performed no additional exercise beyond their usual activity.
Both groups had been pre-trained to recognize that when they pressed a lever, it activated a light and made a tone, then dispensed a high-fat pellet. Investigators found that when the lever was made accessible again (after 30 days of exercise vs. regular activity), rats that had exercised on the treadmill pressed the levers to receive the high-fat pellets significantly fewer times than the rats who did normal activity only.
The moral to the story: Exercise matters! Anyone who's lost weight and kept it off will tell you two things: 1) Consistent exercise makes a huge difference. 2) The fitter they get, the more likely they are to adopt other healthy behaviors – including the ability to avoid compromising their diet (in other words, they don't have as many cravings and/or don't give it to them as often as they used to). Now that's a win-win for weight loss and overall health!