Exercise helps you to adapt your metabolism to the foods you are eating. New research shows that after a high-fat diet, a person who regularly exercises is able to "shift metabolic gears" and burn more fat, whereas a non-exerciser will store the fat and preferentially burn protein and carbohydrate sources of energy.
Why? Our bodies have evolved through times when there was not a supermarket on every corner. During times of famine it is preferable that the body store fat when possible. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherer's who primarily ate roots and vegetables and small animals. On the rare occasion that a large animal was available for dinner, our metabolism adapted to the task of storing more fat when "famine" conditions were present (large quantities of fat were only available from animal sources at the time).
What are famine conditions? Three things are commonly perceived by the body as famine:
- Stress--hunger is a stressful situation, in the past stress was a sensible trigger for fat deposition. Now researchers believe that just by decreasing stress fat storage patterns in the body will change! (Read a great article on this in the San Francisco Chronicle)
- Long periods without food. For years people have been telling you to have three meals a day--do it! Have some healthy snacks in between (like nuts and raisins). When you regularly go long periods without food you trigger the famine response and will store more fat after your meals.
- Lastly, lack of exercise. Your body perceives inactivity as you trying to conserve energy during hard times. New research shows that simply exercising on a regular basis causes you to store less fat. In other words, you not only burn calories, but change your metabolism.
Remember the law of supply and demand--whatever you demand of the body, it will supply. If you demand it to store fat by not exercising, having a stressful lifestyle, and poor eating habits, it will! If you demand it to remain fit and energetic by regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and regular peace cultivation, it will!