Friday, 3 October 2008


“Why do strong arms fatigue themselves with frivolous dumbbells? To dig a vineyard is worthier exercise for men.” - Marcus Valerius Martialis

You would think that if you had a nice fast walk you would work up an appetite and not only eat your dinner more eagerly but also more of it in quantity. Apparently not! Latest research has shown that being a couch potato and not exercising will cause you to feel hungrier and would require you to eat more in order to feel replete. Sitting around apparently increases hunger more than exercising. It all has to do with psychological factors and our perceptions of hunger. A recent study in the USA, examined young people who were either active or inactive and the effect it had on their appetite.

The volunteers were followed through days when they active (spending 12 hours being active – not exercising but rather walking, doing chores, housework, etc, with only 10 minutes rest in every hour) and when they were being sedentary (sitting watching videos and playing computer games, even being pushed around in a wheelchair if they wanted to go somewhere). The results were quite startling: After the active or sedate days, they were given breakfast and asked how hungry they felt before and after eating breakfast. The sedentary group felt the hungriest (up to 17% more than the active group) and they also did not feel as satiated as the active group did after the meal.

The moral of the story is simple. Keep active, adhere to regular meal times and eat a healthy diet and this will not only maintain your shape, but you will feel better and more satisfied with your meals. Needless to say your health will improve also!

Another interesting study related to dieting, and especially the way that dieters banished sweet foods from their immediate environment so as not to be “tempted” to break their diet. The Belgian study led by Kelly Geyskens found that dieters who kept some “tempting” sweet treats around the house actually increased willpower and helped dieting.

The researchers presented female students with tempting foods and found that the women actually had greater self-control when they were confronted with a sweet treat to which they had access, rather than pictures or smells. It seems counter-intuitive to keep sweet treats in the house while dieting, but having them available, apparently can increase the person’s willpower, which can be “trained up”. So while dieting it helps to have some bon-bons and chocolate treats around which will constantly challenge you and by avoiding them you can activate you self-control strategies, which ultimately will cause you to not eat what you shouldn’t!

Another interesting study that I read about recently, concerns a substance that is found in high concentration in red wine and fruit: Resveratrol. This is an almost miraculous compound that has anti-ageing effects and important anti-oxidant properties. A radiation oncologist, Joel Greenberger, chemically altered resveratrol by adding acetyl groups to it (the compound found in vinegar). When the altered acetyl-resveratrol compound was given to mice it proved to be effective in preventing radiation damage.

This is an important study as there have not been any drugs until now that help to limit radiation damage. This new compound can perhaps be used in nuclear accidents, or to help protect the body when cancer is being treated with radiation therapy. More research is being carried out.

In the meantime, exercise, have plenty of sweet treats around the house but resist temptation and sip on soured red wine!

1 comment:

  1. I've heard about that Belgian study on increasing willpower through temptation. I was so surprised by the results. It wasn't what I expected I work for Stacker 2 and we've been in the diet and fitness business for years. Some people need an extra energy boost like me, which is why I use supplements. Come check out our diet and fitness products and maybe we can help you get back track :-D
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