This was a small experiment performed with lean and healthy young adults, so certainly not a representative sample of the U.S. They consumed 30% more calories in a week than they normally did, but continued to exercise as usual. This included at least 2 ½ hours of aerobic exercise spread over at least 6 days of the week.
Measurements of sugar metabolism, abdominal fat, and inflammation were taken before and after the week of feasting. In people who do not exercise, the markers of inflammation in fat tissue would normally increase after a week of overeating, but that did not happen. Instead, the active participants showed no signs of inflammation in their fatty tissue, and no change in glucose tolerance or the chemical breakdown of fat.
Here is what the researchers concluded:
In a nutshell, any exercise that you do will help offset some of the damage of a holiday eating extravaganza. You’re welcome.
Research presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) Integrative Biology of Exercise VII meeting