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Understanding the Interaction between Physical Activity and Diet for the Promotion of Health and Fitness

Authors:
EDITORIAL
published: 13 January 2022
doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.835535
Frontiers in Nutrition | www.frontiersin.org 1January 2022 | Volume 8 | Article 835535
Edited and reviewed by:
David Christopher Nieman,
Appalachian State University,
United States
*Correspondence:
Karsten Koehler
karsten.koehler@tum.de
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Sport and Exercise Nutrition,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Nutrition
Received: 14 December 2021
Accepted: 20 December 2021
Published: 13 January 2022
Citation:
Koehler K and Drenowatz C (2022)
Editorial: Understanding the
Interaction Between Physical Activity
and Diet for the Promotion of Health
and Fitness. Front. Nutr. 8:835535.
doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.835535
Editorial: Understanding the
Interaction Between Physical Activity
and Diet for the Promotion of Health
and Fitness
Karsten Koehler 1
*and Clemens Drenowatz 2
1Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany, 2Division of Sport, Physical
Activity and Health, University of Education Upper Austria, Linz, Austria
Keywords: exercise, eating behavior, weight loss, lifestyle, long-term health, energy balance
Editorial on the Research Topic
Understanding the Interaction Between Physical Activity and Diet for the Promotion of Health
and Fitness
INTRODUCTION
The benefits of regular physical activity and a healthy diet are well-documented in the literature
(1,2). However, efforts to counter the global obesity epidemic and related metabolic diseases
through interventions focusing on either physical activity or diet alone have been of limited success
(3,4), highlighting the need for new, more refined and integrated approaches. Although it appears
intuitive that interventions combining both lifestyle components have the capacity to result in
greater health benefits than singular approaches (5), it is also possible that changing behavior related
to one component may result in compensatory changes in the other. For example, the obvious
health benefits of increased physical activity may be overridden when the resulting increase in
energy expenditure is compensated by an increase in dietary energy intake and unhealthier food
choices (6). Likewise, dietary interventions such as caloric restriction may result in compensatory
reductions in physical activity behavior (7), which could negatively affect physical fitness and
performance, undermine weight loss success, and expose individuals to greater risk for future
weight regain and other associated diseases (810).
The goal of this Research Topic was to strengthen our understanding of how physical activity
and diet are related with each other in the context of health and fitness promotion. As such, this
Research Topic includes research targeting physical activity, which refers to any bodily movement
that results in energy expenditure, as well as exercise, a subset of physical activity with the goal
of maintaining or improving physical fitness (11). The Research Topic combines a total of 9
original studies and systematic reviews, which cover three basic themes ranging from the interplay
between nutrition and physical activity for weight loss (theme 1), the impact of exercise on food
intake regulation (theme 2) and the potential for negative health consequences of excessive exercise
(theme 3).
THEME 1: WEIGHT LOSS AND BODY COMPOSITION
Despite considerable efforts, global rates of overweight, and obesity continue to rise and excess body
weight is considered a major threat to future public health (12). Accordingly, various strategies,
including attempts to alter diet and physical activity, have been implemented to tackle the obesity
Koehler and Drenowatz Editorial: Physical Activity and Diet Interaction
epidemic. In their systematic review Correia et al. highlight
beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on body weight.
Diet-induced changes in body weight, however, are generally
short lived and even greater benefits can be accomplished
with the inclusion of exercise training. Exercise also plays
an important role for maintaining lean body mass during
caloric restriction as indicated by Roth et al. who reported
a decline in lean mass during caloric restriction despite
assuring a high protein intake. In addition to structured
programs, lifestyle adjustments also play a critical role in
weight loss. Myers et al. show that particularly vigorous
physical activity, along with a reduction in energy-dense
foods, was associated with a more pronounced weight loss
in women. Similarly, van Baak et al. report greater weight
loss during caloric restriction in participants who increase
their physical activity. Furthermore, increased physical activity
was associated with beneficial changes in various cardio-
metabolic risk factors and weight loss maintenance beyond the
intervention period.
THEME 2: EXERCISE AND FOOD INTAKE
REGULATION
While physical activity and exercise increase energy expenditure,
most exercisers increase their dietary energy intake. This
phenomenon, often referred to compensatory eating, was
also described in a recent study by Horner et al. who
showed that neither gastric emptying nor appetite-regulating
hormones were significantly altered after a 4-week exercise
intervention, suggesting that short-term changes in gastro-
intestinal regulation play no major role in compensatory
eating. Post-exercise food intake was also studied by Okada
et al. who reported that administration of exogenous ketones
impacted appetite-regulating hormones but failed to affect
appetite perception and post-exercise energy intake. These two
interventions are complemented by a systematic review and
meta-analysis by Hubner et al. on the effects of exercise
on appetite regulation in older adults. Despite limited
research in this demographic, exercise, and physical activity
appear to promote satiety sensitivity and appetite control,
thereby providing an avenue for reducing disease burden later
in life.
THEME 3: POSSIBLE NEGATIVE
CONSEQUENCE
Besides the beneficial effects of physical activity and exercise
there are also some possible harmful effects that need
to be acknowledged. Ribeiro et al. discuss the potential
detrimental effects of exacerbated exercise on the gastrointestinal
environment that can, among others, impair gastric motility, and
nutrient absorption. Moore et al. further address the increased
risk for low energy availability in endurance athletes, and
emphasize the need for adequate dietary energy intake during
periods of high energy demands. The overall benefits of physical
activity, however, should not be questioned by these results.
Rather, these studies highlight the complex interaction between
diet and physical activity and their effects on the human body
and health.
SUMMARY
This overview of current research related to physical activity and
diet highlights the importance of integrating both components
regardless whether the goal is to maximize weight loss or to
diminish the potential negative effects at the upper end of the
activity spectrum. A deeper understanding of the interaction
between these two critical lifestyle approaches is required for
the development of combined interventions involving physical
activity and diet that result in successful, long-term health
improvements while avoiding unhealthy compensatory behavior
in the other domain.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
KK and CD wrote the introduction and the summary. CD
summarized the publications pertaining to weight loss and
excessive exercising. KK wrote the summaries of publications
relating to the impact of exercise on food intake regulation. Both
authors approved the submitted version.
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Frontiers in Nutrition | www.frontiersin.org 2January 2022 | Volume 8 | Article 835535
Koehler and Drenowatz Editorial: Physical Activity and Diet Interaction
10. Locher JL, Goldsby TU, Goss AM, Kilgore ML, Gower B, Ard JD. Calorie
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Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a
potential conflict of interest.
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