When we consider composition and health-based goals, it's generally accepted that a combination of exercise and nutrition is a key factor in achieving our desired goals, alongside general lifestyle choices that we make.
It is well known that to achieve weight loss there is a requirement to be in a calorie deficit, achieved through the utilisation of exercise and diet. But what if the way we train directly impacted the types of food we eat?
A recent study completed by Washington State University aimed to go one step further, looking at whether the intensity of exercise directly impacted our decisions around food. They opted to conduct a study on rats to see whether exercise changed the craving response to high-fat food pellets.
The researchers segmented the rats into two separate groups. The first group underwent a high-intensity treadmill regime, whilst the second group had no additional exercise outside of their regular activity.
After being denied the high-fat pellets for 30 days, and following the two training protocols set out above, the rats were re-introduced to the pellets.
The study found that the rats with no additional exercise in the regime pressed the levers to release the high-fat pellets significantly more than those who followed the high-intensity exercise regime.
The study highlighted two key findings...
The longer the rats were denied the high-fat foods, the harder it was to resist the cues to eat them when re-introduced.
The rats that were part of the high-intensity exercise were significantly better at resisting the high-fat food pellets, showing a greater ability to disregard signals/cravings for these foods.
"The results suggest that high-intensity exercise can prevent the establishment of incubation of craving for foods high in fat and may reduce cue-induced maladaptive food-seeking behaviors that contribute to overeating and obesity." (source)
Lastly, although this study was completed on rats, and therefore requires further research, it highlights the possibility that following a high-intensity training regime may help support our diet, allowing us to better disregard cravings for high-fat foods and cues such as fast-food advertisements – potentially aiding our weight loss goals through better food chocies.
Georgia E. Kirkpatrick, Paige M. Dingess, Jake A. Aadland, Travis E. Brown.
Acute high‐intensity interval exercise attenuates incubation of craving for foods high in fat. Obesity, 2022; DOI: 10.1002/oby.23418