Exercising to Counter Holiday Overeating

Exercise protected against harmful metabolism changes from short term overeating

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Short-term overeating may not only result in weight gain — it can have long-term affects on metabolism too. Can exercise counter the harmful effects of a holiday feast?

A recent trial looked at health markers in people who exercised after overeating and people who remained sedentary. Both groups had similar calorie surpluses.

The researchers found that the less active group had less control over their blood sugar after a week of overeating without exercise.

The authors of this study suggested that a daily workout could prevent the negative bodily changes that frequently come with overeating.

"Exercise regularly."

Dylan Thompson, of the Department for Health in the University of Bath, led this study on overeating and exercising.

During the holidays, people often overeat and take in more calories than they use up, which is called a calorie surplus.

Having a calorie surplus can lead to weight gain and several negative effects on health, including loss of blood sugar control and metabolism problems.

Exercising more can help reduce or eliminate a calorie surplus by burning off additional calories. This study investigated whether exercise countered the effects of overeating even if a calorie surplus remained.

The researchers recruited 26 healthy and active young men to participate in the study.

The young men were split into two groups. The first group, consisting of 14 participants, ate 50 percent more calories and reduced their exercise to less than 4,000 steps per day for seven days.

The second group, with 12 participants, exercised on a treadmill for 50 minutes per day while also overfeeding.

The second group ate more than the first group so that the calorie surplus was the same for both groups.

At baseline and follow-up, the researchers took blood samples, samples of fat tissue and other health-related data.

The researchers found that the group that did not exercise experienced a twofold increase in blood sugar during a blood sugar test, while the group that exercised was unaffected.

A spike in blood sugar could put patients at risk for metabolism problems like diabetes.

Additionally, the group that did not exercise experienced changes in their fat tissue that suggested altered metabolism.

The researchers concluded that, even though the calorie surplus between the two groups was the same, the group that exercised experienced fewer negative consequences of overeating than the more sedentary group.

The authors of this study suggested that vigorous exercise could help counter the potential health problems that accompany occasional overeating.

According to Rusty Gregory, a certified wellness coach and dailyRx Contributing Expert, "One of the greatest benefits of exercise is its ability to decrease insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance."

He said, "In other words, when you exercise, cells becomes more receptive to glucose."

The research was published in The Journal of Physiology on December 15.

The study was funded by the University of Bath. The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 13, 2013
Last Updated:
December 16, 2013