Conventional wisdom states that exercise increases our desire for food, and the more rigorous the exercise, the stronger the desire. There’s even some research to back this up. However, not ALL research supports this conclusion, including a brand new study out of BYU.
Researchers had study participants complete a vigorous 45-minute walk on a treadmill and then measured their brain waves afterward (using EEG) while they viewed images of food. This same protocol was repeated one week later, but without the exercise. Interestingly, brain responses were lower after the exercise bout, which means that it was clearly having an effect on the individual’s motivation for food. The researchers also discovered that the subjects did not eat more food later in the day to compensate for the calories burned through exercise. In fact, they ate about the same amount of food that was consumed on their non-exercise day. It’s important to note that the researchers are still interested in determining how long the decreased motivation for food lasts post-workout and whether it persists with long-term exercise.
The results of this study really aren’t all that surprising to me personally. I’ve always had a blunted appetite after I work out, especially if it’s a longer or more intense session. Gradually, my hunger starts to increase post-workout, but it’s probably at least an hour before I’m ready to eat anything substantial. There’s always the other side of the coin too. Some folks do, in fact, get ravenous soon after finishing a workout, which can sabotage even the best weight loss intentions. And how discouraged would you be if you were trying to lose weight only to find that working out just made you want to eat more?
So, which one are you? Could you be content with just fluids for the first hour after exercise or do you find yourself scarfing down junk food because you simply can’t wait for anything healthier? Let us know in the comments below!