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Fighting Food Cravings with Exercise

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A new study has revealed that intense exercise can help in fighting the craving to eat junk food and thereby pave the way for effective weight loss. This is especially important in view of the fact that losing and keeping off even 7 percent of body weight reduces the risk of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases by 58%.
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health in Scotland, which was published in January 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one hour of running is all it takes to make us less inclined to eat junk food.
Methodology of the study
To observe appetite responses in the brain, researchers used fMRI scans to examine the relationship between exercise and food choices. “The key aim of our research was to examine the brain’s responses to high and low calorie food following a period of acute exercise,” says lead researcher Dr. Daniel Crabtree.
“Our focus was on a region of the brain called the insula — commonly referred to as the ‘primary taste cortex.’ Activation in this region is increased in the anticipation of foods, and when consuming foods that we perceive as being pleasant.”
The study asked 15 participants to run at speed for an hour, where they then underwent an fMRI brain scan while viewing pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods. Many of the participants claimed their hunger was suppressed following the exercise.
“Our findings showed that activation in the insula was reduced when looking at pictures of high calorie foods such as pizzas, burgers and doughnuts, following exercise,” Crabtree said in a release from the university. “When viewing low calorie options, for example apples, strawberries, carrots and grapes, activity in this region increased.”
The Findings
“We also asked people to rate their hunger levels and took blood samples to analyse two hormones relating to appetite stimulation and suppression. After running, the volunteer’s feelings of hunger were suppressed, and the appetite hormone analysis showed us that levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone were reduced whilst levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone were increased.”

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may be related to greater thirst levels after exercise and the perception of low-calorie foods having greater water content, according to Dr Crabtree. Similar studies of overweight or obese people are needed to explore how the link between brain activity and exercise could be used to develop advice for healthy weight loss, he added.
The study hopes to understand how to better utilize exercise in tackling increasing obesity rates and stave off various diseases.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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