People who eat “fitness-branded foods” tend to overeat and underexercise, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research. Now I feel better about eating a bag of cheese curds for lunch.
“The fitness food puts the restrained eaters in double jeopard,” Joerg Koenigstorfer, the study’s lead author, told CNBC. “They eat the fitness food, and they think they got closer to their long-term goal.”
But gains from eating health foods are often offset by overeating as well as a lack of exercise.
As part of the study, people received trail mix labeled either “fitness” along with a picture of running shoes on the package or just “trail mix.” Restrained eaters, or people who were watching their weight, ate more of the “fitness” mix rather than the non-fitness mix. A later study showed these same people also worked out less.
The findings held true when the trail mix was framed as dietary permitted to restrained eaters. When the mix was presented as forbidden instead, the increased eating effect disappeared.
So basically, if you’re going to eat healthy, it doesn’t give you an excuse to stuff your face and skip the gym.