Monday, June 01, 2015

If You Perceive Exercise to Be a Misery, You Might Eat More When Done

"Because I exercised"

3 words that sink weight loss efforts and lead to the consumption of many a yummy treat.

Who out there hasn't felt like they deserved some dietary loving following a righteous sweat session, and a simple study out of Germany published last year concluded that you're even more likely to eat back your exercise if your gym equipment tells you that your exercise was in the "fat burning zone". But there was this weird catch.

The study randomly assigned participants to ride on bike trainers where half rode with a sign in front of them highlighting their ride was part of an experiment to develop training software for the "fat burning zone", while the other half, doing the same amount and intensity of riding, rode with a sign in front of them highlighting their part in an experiment to develop training software for "endurance".

At the end of their rides all riders were offered pretzels and water.

The "fat burning zone" riders, and here's the weird catch, varied in their response to the signage.

Riders who reported high levels of fatigue and distress ate more pretzels in the "fat burning zone" treatment than riders reporting fatigue and distress in the "endurance" treatment UNLESS they reported having enjoyed their exercise whereupon riders who reported enjoying their exercise, ate fewer pretzels in the so-called "fat burning zone" than "endurance".

Now putting aside the fact that "fat burning zones" are BS that should simply be ignored, and that exercise is for health, not weight, for me this study reinforced the importance of finding an exercise that you enjoy, because if exercise is perceived by you to be a misery, it would follow you'll be more likely to feel like you earned a reward "because you exercised" - a hypothesis that this paper suggests has merit.