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Exercise Prevents Weight Gain by Reducing Appetite and Burning Fat Before Carbs E-mail
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Exercise helps prevent weight regain after dieting by burning fat before burning carbohydrjohn_baroudates, and by reducing appetite according to a new study with rats conducted at the University of Colorado Denver.   

The study found that by burning fat first and storing carbohydrates for use later in the day slows weight regain and may minimize overeating by signaling a feeling of fullness to the brain. The researchers also discovered that exercise prevents an increase in the number of fat cells that occurs during weight regain. This discovery challenging the conventional wisdom that the number of fat cells is set and cannot be altered by dietary or lifestyle changes.

These coordinated physiological changes in the brain and the body lower the ‘defended' weight, that is, the weight that our physiology drives us to achieve, and suggest that the effects of  on these physiological processes may make it easier to stay on a diet and eat healthy.

The study is "Regular exercise attenuates the metabolic drive to regain weight after long term weight loss." Paul S. MacLean, Janine A. Higgins, Holly R. Wyatt, Edward L. Melanson, Ginger C. Johnson, Matthew R. Jackman, Erin D. Giles, Ian E. Brown and James O. Hill, all of the University of Colorado Denver, conducted the study. The American Physiological Society published the research in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Exercise and Weight Gain

Weight gain is, on the surface, remarkably simple, occurring when the calories consumed exthuzy_andrade_exercisingeeds the calories expended. On closer examination, the process is remarkably complex. Laboratory, animals eat according to physiological signals that may suppress appetite or arouse the desire to eat. These signals are relatively weak in humans, as their intake is largely influenced by psychological, cognitive and lifestyle factors. After dieting, however, the physiological signals emerge to play a more substantial role in controlling intake. Being persistently hungry after losing weight with restricted diets is a big part of the weight regain problem. Most people are unable to ignore this physiological cue and are pushed by their biology to overeat and regain the weight they worked so hard to lose.

Some people are successful at keeping the weight off, and those tracked by The National Weight Control Registry share a number of common characteristics, including regularly exercising. The aim of this investigation was to uncover how exercise affects the body's physiology to minimize weight regain.

Exercise and Weight Gain Study

The researchers used obesity-prone rats. For the first 16 weeks, the rats ate a high-fat diet, as much as they wanted, and remained sedentary. They were then placed on a diet. For the following two weeks, the animals ate a low-fat and low-calorie diet, losing about 14% of their body weight. The rats maintained the weight loss by dieting for eight more weeks. Half the rats exercised regularly on a treadmill during this period while the other half remained sedentary.

In the final 8-weeks, the relapse phase of the study, the rats stopped dieting and ate as much low-fat food as they wanted. The rats in the exercise group continued to exercise and the sedentary rats remained sedentary.

Exercise and Weight Gain Study Findings

  • The sedentary group preferentially burned carbohydrates while sending fat from the diet to fat tissue. This preferential fuel use stores more calories because it requires less energy to store fat than to store carbohydrates. Burning away carbohydrates may contribute to the persistent feeling of hunger and large appetite of the sedentary animals.

  • Exercise blunted the preference to use carbs as fuel, favoring the burning of fat for energy needs. This fuel preference saved the carbohydrates so that they could be used later in the day. Exercise also enhanced the ability to balance energy intake with energy expended

  • Exercise led to a much lower appetite and fewer calories ending up in fat tissue.

  • Exercise prevented the increase in the number of fat cells observed with weight regain in sedentary rats. In sedentary rats, a population of very small, presumably new, fat cells appears early in the relapse process. Small, new fat cells would not only accelerate the process of regain, but also increase fat storage capacity in the abdomen. It would also explain why sedentary rats overshoot their previous weight when they relapse. Conventional wisdom holds that the number of fat cells is determined by genetics, rather than being regulated by diet or lifestyle.

Bottom Line on Exercise and Weight Regain

Because this effect of exercise is a novel finding, the team will do further research to demonstrate that exercise is, indeed, preventing the formation of new fat cells early in relapse and not simply altering the size of pre-existing fat cells.

 
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