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Friday, December 20, 2013

Why exercising WON’T curb holiday weight gain

People put on an average 2lb over the festive period and most never lose it again, according to a recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This means that over a period of 10 years, the average person gains 20lbs.

Researchers at Texas Tech University, also found exercise does not help people lose the weight they put on during the holidays.
The team studied 48 men and 100 women between the ages of 18 and 65; half of the volunteers said they were serious exercisers, while the other half admitted to not taking any exercise.
The researchers found that the weight gained during the holidays very often won't be lost; they also found that the people who were overweight at the beginning of the research period put on the most weight - and saw the greatest increase in body fat percentage.

Furthermore they found that how much exercise the person did had no impact on the amount of weight they gained. The team admit they aren't sure why this was - and accept that while exercising did not prevent weight gain, it could be having other health benefits.

On the one hand, study author Jamie Cooper, Ph.D., said it could be that the study didn't have enough participants to detect small differences in weight change between exercisers and non-exercisers.
But she said the results could also mean that people were just eating far more calories than they could burn off, even with all that physical activity.

"If you think about going for a run, if you run for 30 minutes and you run three miles during that time, you burn about 300 calories. Well, one piece of pumpkin pie without anything on it is about 300 calories," Cooper said. "So, it's really easy to eat all those calories that you burn during exercise and then some." Exercise also boosts appetite, which can lead to even more overeating.
Cooper said that means there really is no substitute for moderation during the holidays, a time when foods are much more likely to be loaded with fat and sugar and hidden calories.
Dr Jamie Cooper said people may not think gaining 1 or 2lbs is a lot but that it could be an important factor in causing obesity if people never lose it again. She explained that if people put on 2lb every year for 10 years they will have put on a total of 20lbs.

Despite the disappointing results, one expert said the study shouldn't be an excuse for people to abandon their workout routines over the next few weeks.
"Exercise has numerous benefits beyond just regulation of weight," said Joy Dubost, a nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The study found that exercisers may have maintained an advantage over non-exercisers: their blood pressure tended to stay lower through the holiday hustle.

Dubost thinks that the problem with the holidays isn't just a big meal here or there, it's a mindset of indulgence that people tend to adopt between now and the end of the year.

"Typically what happens on Thanksgiving Day doesn't necessarily just stay for that day. It tends to trickle into an eating pattern that can stay with you through the holiday season," Dubost said. "Then you step on the scale and it's gotten away from you," she added.

Bottom line: we need to stay mindful of what we're eating, no matter how often we hit the gym. Because while it's OK to indulge once in a while, the only thing that should be completely stuffed this holiday is our stocking.

Sources: http://www.nhs.uk/news/, http://consumer.healthday.com/, http://healthcare.utah.edu/