High-Intensity Exercise During Dieting Shown to Reduce Cravings for High-Fat Foods

Study evidence suggests that exercising while dieting may help reduce cravings for unhealthy foods. An essential part of maintaining any diet involves having the willpower to resist unhealthy temptations; exercise may not only assist physical weight loss but can also provide mental control over cravings for unhealthy food items.

This experiment is designed to assess resistance to “incubation of craving,” or the cumulative effects of denial, meaning the longer one goes without taking their desired substance, the harder it becomes to ignore cues for it.

Study results revealed that rats on a 30-day diet exercising intensively were better at resisting cues for high-fat food pellets. This suggests that exercise helped these rats adapt their work commitment levels for cues linked to these pellets based on how badly they craved them.

28 rats were trained using a lever that made an audible sound and illuminated a light when pressed, prior to dispensing a high-fat pellet. Following training, their testing period revealed how often the lever would be pressed just for this sound/light signal cue.

After this initial phase, rats were divided into two groups. One received high-intensity treadmill running while the other underwent no additional exercise beyond their regular activity levels for 30 days; both groups also lacked access to high-fat pellets.

After 30 days, rats had access to pellet dispensing levers again but only made sound and light cues when pressing them this time around. Rats who did not engage in exercise pressed these levers significantly more than those who had exercised, suggesting that exercise reduced cravings for the pellets.