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Exercise helps us eat healthy for weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Exercise changes the brain to promote healthy eating,  finds Harvard study

Until now no one knew whether it’s best to start a diet first or start with exercise to lose weight. According to a Harvard research review, exercise might be your best first choice for weight loss, followed by dieting. According to the review findings, exercise changes the brain, making it easier to make healthy food choices.

Miguel Alonso Alonso, a researcher at Harvard University explains, "Understanding the interaction between exercise and a healthy diet could improve preventative and therapeutic measures against obesity by strengthening current approaches and treatments.”

Alonso, who conducted a review for the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology says exercising can help us feel full.

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Though diet and exercise usually go hand in hand, Alonso and his team found exercise changes the brain in areas responsible for inhibitory control.

According to the researchers, “… in time, exercise produces a potentiating effect of executive functions including the ability for inhibitory control, which can help us to resist the many temptations that we are faced with everyday in a society where food, especially hypercaloric food, is more and more omnipresent."

Controlling impulsive eating behaviors is a key element to a successful weight loss program.

The review from the Harvard team suggests exercise and diet indeed go hand in hand. Alonso, who studies brain plasticity and its clinical applications, found exercise helps us eat a healthy diet. Increased exercise and physical activity changes the brain to help control eating.

Updated April 30, 2014