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By making low-calorie foods more appealing, exercise accelerates weight loss

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If you're looking for weapons in the battle of the bulge, consider an option that doesn't require complicated diets. In a new study, scientists discovered that exercise makes low-calorie foods more appealing, reported the Australian News on Jan. 2.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham, the study revealed that exercising can both burn calories and change your food cravings. The research involved MRI scans to compare how the brain reacted after exercise.

In areas of the brain linked to rewards, the post-exercise participants responded more positively to low-calorie foods than to fattening treats.

"Exercise increases neural responses to images of low-calorie foods and suppresses activation during the viewing of high-calorie foods," noted the study leader.

A similar study conducted in the United States provides further evidence that exercise and weight loss are linked because working out makes those doughnuts seem less desirable. Those researchers discovered that inactive volunteers felt hungrier than those who spend the day being active.

"In addition to reducing energy output, sitting for long periods may increase the perception of hunger. If you are sitting on the couch or at your desk, not only are you not burning calories, it may cause you to want more of them," concluded Dr. Barry Braun of the University of Massachusetts.

However, if you think that diet products such a diet soda can help satisfy your hunger without expanding your waistline, researchers have a message: Wrong.

The study compared diet soda drinkers to a group of non-diet drinkers (including both regular soda fans and people who didn't drink any soda). While all participants’ waists grew over the course of the 9.5-year study, the diet soda drinkers had 70 percent greater increases in belly bulge, reported Men's Health magazine recently.

Moreover, people who drank two or more diet sodas per day experienced waist circumference increases five times greater than the increase for non-diet drinkers, according to a team of researchers from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

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