Exercise helps prevent weight regain after dieting by reducing appetite and by burning fat before burning carbohydrates, according to a new University of Colorado Denver study. 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 study also found that exercise prevents the increase in the number of fat cells that occurs during weight regain, 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 exercise on these physiological processes may make it easier to stay on a diet.
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.
The researchers used obesity-prone participants. For the first 16 weeks, all participants ate a high-fat diet and remained sedentary. They were then placed on a diet. For the following two weeks, they ate a low-fat and low-calorie diet, losing about 14 percent of their body weight. Participants maintained the weight loss by dieting for eight more weeks. Half the participants exercised regularly on a treadmill during this period while the other half remained sedentary.
In the final eight weeks, the relapse phase of the study, the participants stopped dieting and ate as much low-fat food as they wanted. Those in the exercise group continued to exercise and the sedentary participants remained sedentary.
Compared to the those in the sedentary group, the exercisers regained less weight during the relapse period, developed a lower ‘defended’ body weight, burned more fat early in the day and more carbohydrates later in the day, accumulated fewer fat cells and less abdominal fat during relapse, and reduced the drive to overeat.
In addition to regular exercise, acupuncture can aid in maintaining permanent weight loss. Acupuncture can assist dieters with their weight loss plan when combined with a reduced calorie diet and exercise. Acupuncture speeds up metabolism and lowers blood insulin and lipid levels, which results in less insulin conversion into body fat. Selected auricular acupuncture points trigger electrical pulses that suppress appetite and minimize overeating.
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.