Exercise alone not enough to make people eat better

December 9, 2003 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Exercise alone not enough to make people eat better

You might think, as many do, that embarking on an aerobic exercise program leads to healthier eating.

According to a new study, it doesn't. In the study, people who were enrolled in a supervised exercise program did not significantly change their diet. The results suggest that exercise programs designed to help people lose weight may have a better chance of success if they also include advice on how to start eating a healthier diet.

Most experts agree that a combination of exercise and dietary changes is the best way to lose weight. Some studies have shown that people who start exercising in an attempt to shed pounds also change their diet, mainly by cutting fat calories and eating more carbohydrates. The idea is that as exercise increases, the body's stores of carbohydrates are depleted, so people eat more carbs to compensate.

That did not turn out to be the case in a 16-month program of supervised exercise. Overall, 74 overweight and obese people completed the study, in which they had been randomly assigned to the exercise program or to a non-exercise group.

Men in the exercise program were more likely to lose weight than men who were not enrolled in the exercise program. On average, weight remained steady in women who participated in the exercise program, while weight increased in the other women.

Even though exercise helped participants lose weight or at least stop gaining weight, enrolment in the program did not have a significant effect on people's diet, according to the researchers from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. In both men and women, diet stayed about the same in both the exercise and non-exercise groups.

They conclude that, without advice on eating a healthy diet, moderate exercise is not enough to trigger dietary changes.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.