I’m often asked how to maintain the right balance between eating enough to fuel workouts without overdoing it afterward. While most people assume that hunger pangs after exercise are sparked solely by the need to replenish calories that have been torched, intriguing research suggests that the brain’s food-reward center and how fit you are can both play a key role in whether working out leaves you famished or not.
Of course, I’m referring to moderate exercise for improving health here. This information is not intended for the “mutant” athletes I see at the gym. You know, guys that look like the “Avengers” in training to save the world! If you haven’t watched professional athletes train, it’s an awesome sight to see. I suggest that any athlete (amateur or professional) training for a serious sports event seek the professional guidance of a sports medicine doctor to ensure proper nutrition and supplementation, both pre and post event. For the rest of us humans who are exercising for health and quality of life, I’d like to bust the myth that moderate exercise dramatically increases caloric intake.
For example, one study challenged the belief that exercise causes us to “work up an appetite.” Brigham Young University scientists measured the brain activity of 35 women when they viewed pictures of food, both on a morning when the women had exercised briskly for 45 minutes on a treadmill and on a different day when they didn’t work out.
Surprisingly, on the day when the women exercised they actually had lower brain responses to the food pictures–and were also more physically active for the rest of the day, regardless of their body mass index. Nor did the women eat more on the day they exercised to make up for calories they had burned. In fact, they ate the same amount of food as they did on the sedentary day!
Another study shows how our brains can trick us into overeating even if we never actually break a sweat. Researchers asked one group of participants to imagine a vigorous workout. Another group visualized a fun workout, and a third thought about an activity that didn’t involve exercise.
Afterward, all of the volunteers were offered candy and Chex Mix as a “thank you” for their participation. Those who had merely imagined themselves exercising gobbled up 50 percent more sweet snacks than did volunteers who didn’t think about working out.
However, other new research shows that exercise can actually change how you interact with food–in a very positive way. In a study, on alternate days, volunteers either exercised (by walking or running for an hour) or sat quietly for an hour. Afterward, they were given blood tests to measure levels of hunger hormones, then they were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet.
While you’d expect the volunteers who had just completed a 60-minute workout would pig out, actually those who ran ate several fewer hundred calories than they had torched. That’s because their levels of appetite-regulating hormones rose after their workout, so they felt full after consuming moderate amounts of food.
However, volunteers who walked didn’t have a similar spike in these hormones and overate at the buffet, wolfing down more calories than they burned. A study showed that over three months, previously inactive, overweight people who began jogging gradually learned to eat fewer calories than they burned–even though they were given food in which the amount of calories was disguised.
That’s because their level of appetite-regulating hormones improved as they became fitter, Norwegian researchers found. The key takeaway is that even if you’re tempted to overeat when you first start working out, in the long run, exercise will help you become healthier–and in better control of your appetite!
The Omni Diet Workout shows you exactly how to exercise smarter and achieve optimal fitness in far less time than you might expect. What’s more, success comes from highly efficient moves in a program that works your entire body. Click here for more information on the Omni Diet.
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