Workout May Decrease Appetite


Rather than the commonly held belief that you “work up an appetite” when you exercise, you may actually be decreasing your sense of hunger and your urge to eat. Researchers at Brigham Young University found that 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning reduced their participants' desire for food. How's that for a one-two punch when it comes to weight control?

The findings were published online in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. A release from the university reports that Professors James LeCheminant and Michael Larson measured the neural activity of 35 women, some normal weight and some obese, while the subjects viewed food images, both following a morning of exercise and a morning without exercise. The team found that the women's response to the food pictures decreased after brisk workouts.

“This study provides evidence that exercise not only affects energy output, but it also may affect how people respond to food cues,” LeCheminant said. “We wanted to see if obesity influenced food motivation, but it didn’t. However, it was clear that the exercise bout was playing a role in their neural responses to the pictures of food.”

Also of interest, the women in the experiment did not eat more food on the exercise day to “make up” for the extra calories they burned in exercise. In fact, they ate approximately the same amount of food on the non-exercise day.

Larson said this is one of the first studies to look specifically at neurologically-determined food motivation in response to exercise and that researchers still need to determine how long the diminished food motivation lasts after exercise and to what extent it persists with consistent, long-term exercise.

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