Workout Smarter, Not Harder: How Physical Activity Affects Your Appetite



    Regular physical activity is a healthy habit that can improve many aspects of our health.

    It is especially useful for improving mental health and mood, sleep, but it also improves physical health from many different aspects. One of them, perhaps the most obvious, is the aspect of losing weight, that is, regulating body weight.

    In addition to proper nutrition, physical activity is considered a particularly important tool for weight loss.

    It contributes to consuming more calories, building new muscle tissue (which speeds up the basic metabolism), but it also has an interesting aspect: it affects appetite.

    How Physical Activity Affects Your Appetite

    Therefore, below we will talk about how exercise actually affects appetite and what types of exercises are best in this regard.

    How does exercise affect food needs?

    There are different views and opinions on this subject. Some people who exercise regularly believe that this type of physical activity also means an increased appetite.

    However, most people also do not feel an increased need for food, especially after certain types of exercise. Some studies show that aerobic or so-called cardio exercises actually reduce appetite by affecting and changing the levels of hormones responsible for the feeling of hunger.

    One study involved 130 people between the ages of 18 and 70. They were given a specific exercise program and asked to stick to it for one year.

    In most cases, the program involved about 250 minutes of physical activity per week at moderate or higher intensity. They wore a wristband that measured their activity time, and all subjects also adhered to a specific diet based on their caloric needs.

    The study found that those who did not exercise consumed more calories than they needed 12% of the time. However, when they exercised for at least 60 minutes, only 5% reported eating too much. Each additional 10 minutes of exercise (on top of the existing 60 minutes) reduced the likelihood of overeating by 1%.

    In the study, light physical activity showed the best results in terms of caloric intake, while moderate or vigorous intensity activities were not as effective. The researchers explain these results and believe they are due to two reasons.

    First, it is believed that physical activity affects the release of hormones responsible for the feeling of hunger. The level of the hormone ghrelin, which promotes the feeling of hunger, decreases while the satiety hormones are released. A second reason is thought to be the effect of exercise on self-esteem and mood.

    After a strenuous workout, subjects were more careful about what they ate and careful not to overeat.

    What exercise factors affect appetite?

    1. Intensity

    Intensity, i.e., the weight and effort put into exercise, affects appetite. Although more intense exercise burns more calories, it is thought to reduce appetite more than moderate or low-intensity exercise. One explanation for this phenomenon is the distribution of blood, or blood flow, during exercise.

    During exercise, much of the blood inflow is directed and concentrated to the heart, brain and muscles. The digestive system is, in a sense, “neglected” and this can actually affect and decrease appetite.

    1. Duration of physical activity

    In addition to intensity, the duration of exercise is also important to food requirements. The longer the workout, the longer it takes the body to return to a resting state, and the later you will feel hungry. Longer workouts also take up more free time that might otherwise be spent eating junk food, snacking, etc.

    However, it is important to eat nutritious, high-energy foods after your workout. The nutrients provided by food help in recovery from exercise, but also in building new muscle tissue, restoring glycogen reserves, etc.

    1. Variety in sports

    Trying new sports or completely new workouts can have an impact on food cravings. For many, a new type of workout also means an increased appetite and therefore increased food intake. Of course, this is often individual and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

    exercise like running and cycling also means an increased appetite

    But it’s important to have an approximate number of calories burned during exercise, because that way we can make sure we don’t overeat at the next meal. Many people take in too many calories after a strenuous workout, thinking that they have actually burned that many calories. There are a number of mobile apps that can help you with such calculations.

    1. Nutrition

    For many, exercise like running and cycling also means an increased appetite, while people who do strength training seem to have a decreased appetite. But perhaps the difference is in the way they eat. People who jog or bike eat a higher carbohydrate diet, while people who weight train focus mainly on protein intake in their diet.

    Proteins are macronutrients that are necessary for building new muscle tissue, but they are also known to contribute significantly to feelings of satiety. The recommendations state that proteins should be consumed, but also complex carbohydrates and fiber.

    However, if you want to feel full without eating a lot, you should focus on protein foods.