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New Study Finds Exercise Makes It Easier To Adopt A New, Healthier Diet

Eliza Sullivan
February 4, 2020
Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
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February 4, 2020

Whenever someone is looking to lose weight or get fit, an athletic routine is a part of the plan—be it for its calorie-burning aid or to increase overall physical fitness.

But a recent study from the Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science at Drexel University has linked working out to another benefit when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight: It may actually make it easier to adhere to a new, healthier diet plan1 by helping prevent overeating.

Previous research indicates a link between being active and eating more fruits and vegetables, but in this study researchers wanted to see how exercise affected people's commitment to new diets. The study specifically considered calorie-restricted diets targeting weight loss.

"Interestingly, our study suggests that exercise may also aid in adhering to a reduced-calorie diet," said Rebecca Crochiere, a graduate student and lead author of the study, "perhaps through improved regulation of appetite or eating behavior."

Specifically, the research found that engaging in physical activity for an hour cut odds of overeating in the following hours in half, from 12% to 5%. Longer workouts resulted in further decreases in likelihood of overeating.

Interestingly, according to the researchers, the results of the study also suggest that lighter physical activity had a stronger correlation to decreased overeating than more vigorous activity—but they do say that further research would be needed to confirm this finding, as that result may be more based on the individual study participant than what sort of workout they did.

The temptation, especially when looking to maintain healthy weight, is to exercise more or harder. But if future research indicates that the more moderate workouts can help with diet maintenance, it may help change the way we think about weight loss.

While this research focused on calorie-restricted dieting (which isn't always a good option), knowing that working out can help prevent overeating may help people trying other diets, like intermittent fasting. Since one of the downfalls of people trying a form of IF can be overeating when not fasting, perhaps this knowledge of working out helping to prevent overeating can be applied.

The big take-away? While these results might have interesting implications, everyone is different. But if you're trying a new diet, why not also try revamping your fitness routine while you're at it—it might help.

Eliza Sullivan author page.
Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine,, and SUITCASE magazine.