10 Interesting Weight Loss Discoveries of 2012

There’s a lot of money being poured into weight loss and fitness research. This year there have been some incredible and stupidly obvious discoveries about exercise, diet and the human body. Here’s the 10 we found the most interesting.

1. Fat is good for you and can help you lose weight?!

Yes! Well, sort of… in recent years scientists have discovered brown fat, a type of fat that burns excess calories rather than store them. We all these brown adipose tissue stores but they seem to disappear with age.

A study this year found that being exposed to cold temperatures could help activate these fat stores. Participants who were exposed to cold burned on average 250 more calories over three hours than their warm counterparts. This is great news for people living in cold temperatures – it’s not all sad and gloomy… you’re skinny!

2. Exercise can change your DNA

You’re probably not have blonde hair one day and red the next, but exercise can have an immediate impact on your DNA! A Swedish study has found that heavy exercise causes a DNA change in your muscles, reprogramming your genetics to be able to adapt to larger levels of exercise. So every rep you pull is changing your body for the better!

Interestingly, caffeine has a similar effect in causing the muscular contractions of exercise, but the researcher doesn’t recommend replacing exercise with caffeine anytime soon.

3. Exercise makes you smarter

Most of us know many of the benefits of exercise but did you know that it turbocharges brain function?

A Harvard professor found that exercise is a comprehensive fighter against many of the brain’s ailments. He found that exercise expands the brain’s size, fighting damage caused by stress and depression. Physical activity enables more neural connections in the brain to form, enhancing brain activity at all levels. MRIs revealed exercise activates the prefrontal cortex: the area associated with complex decision-making and social skills.

Various studies have found that exercise improves memory, intelligence scores, academic performance and very importantly, motivation.

So getting active for a long time every day will not only make you healthier, but a lot smarter too!

4. Lack of sleep leads to weight gain

Besides from being tired the next day, having a bad night’s sleep might actually make you gain weight! In a Mayo Clinic study, participants who slept 1/3 less than normal consumed on average 549 calories a day more than those who slept their normal amount.

The study explored whether lack of sleep affected the levels of leptin and gherkin, hormones related to appetite. This and a Stanford study discovered that sleep deprivation caused decreased leptin (less fullness) and higher gherkin levels (more hunger), leading to the consumption of higher calorie foods.

So next time you get the late-night munchies… you might just be tired!

5. Exercise helps women have babies quicker

But not too much exercise. A study following 3500 Danish women trying to conceive found that regular moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling or gardening made a woman 18 percent more likely to get pregnant.

Interestingly, women who exercised vigorously were 32 percent less likely to fall pregnant than non-active women. The reasons are unclear but previous studies suggest that women who underwent in vitro fertilisation and did intense exercise were more likely to experience implantation failure.

6. Chocolate eaters are skinnier?

According to a UCSD study, regular chocolate eaters have a lower BMI than those who eat it less frequently! The researchers stress chocolate consumption in moderation due to its high saturated fat and sugar content.

However, there are some positive links to your chocolate treats… chocolate contains antioxidant polyphenols which can improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar.

7. Exercise and caffeine protect against skin cancer

A Rutgers study this year found caffeine and regular exercise are linked to a decreased risk of skin cancer! Testing on mice revealed that exercise and caffeine lead to a reduction in fat, which causes inflammation (inflammation is linked to skin cancer).

8. Wii games don’t make kids exercise more

Whilst WIi games are marketed as active and , according to a Baylor College study, playing such games led to no noticeable increase in exercise. With motion-monitoring devices attached to the participants, there was virtually no increase in physical exercise per day between active game players and non-active game players.

However, exercise scientist Jacob Barkley said that there could be noticeable minor positive effects by playing Wii games as there is a higher level of caloric expenditure by playing such games compared to non-active video games.

9. Using a Car and TV could kill you

Shock horror! A Swedish study found that those who own a TV and car are 27 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who have neither.

Luckily, any exercise during leisure time and activity during work dropped the risk significantly, with a 24 percent reduction with regular moderate or strenuous exercise.

So keep the exercise up and the car/TV down as it’s doing you wonders!

10. Overeating makes you dumb!

That’s right, a Mayo Clinic study found that those over 70 who had a caloric intake in excess of 2100 calories a day had double the risk of developing memory deficits such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The suggestion is that overeating leads to oxidative damage to the brain, causing structural damage.

A related study by American University found that those eating a high-fat diet were more likely to experience decline in learning and memory skills.

So want to stay sharp? Stay off the french fries and get on the bike!

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