Feb. 28, 2019—Could something as simple as moving more actually help you eat better without consciously trying? Yes, suggests a new—and encouraging—study.The study involved nearly 2,700 young adults. None of them were on diets or in the habit of exercising. They were instructed to exercise but weren't told to modify their diets in any major way. But they did so spontaneously after starting to exercise. After several weeks of being active, they were more likely to help themselves to lean meat, fruits and veggies. Plus, they were less likely to fill up on unhealthy foods, such as sugary sodas or fried foods.
The exercise they did was fairly modest: three 30-minute aerobic sessions every week for 15 weeks. There were brief warm-ups and cooldowns too.
Researchers didn't look at why regular exercise might lead to a more nutritious diet. But past research shows that exercise can decrease animals' desire for fatty foods through changed levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Several other studies have also uncovered a link between the intensity of exercise and the quantity of appetite-regulating hormones the body secretes.
All the study subjects were ages 18 to 35. That's a prime time for forming healthy habits. But no matter your age, these findings may help you make over your diet.
This study appeared in the International Journal of Obesity.