The human body is so efficient at getting the most from every calorie, it is very difficult to exercise off extra food. We might also think that the more we exercise, the hungrier we get.
Don’t be put off. Exercising won't make you feel hungrier. In fact, it can be difficult to eat enough when training for big events. The science now backs up this happy news.
The complex mechanism of appetite control is mainly driven by three hormones. Most of us know about insulin, and that it is possible to be resistant to it. Insulin resistance increases appetite and can make our body store too much fat.
Ghrelin is the ‘I’m hungry’ hormone and leptin is the one that says ‘enough, thank you’. Production of these hormones begins in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
New research with mice shows that the effect is mainly to do with heat. The parts of the hypothalamus that control appetite seem to be sensitive both to increased temperature and to the effects of spicy food. That means that raising body temperature with exercise reduces the production of hunger hormones. It all makes sense!
Careful choice of food can fend off hunger for longer for the same calorie intake. Rather than going for the quick chocolate or cereal bar fix, look at complex carbs and a good dose of protein. Slow-release carbs keep your blood sugar steady, while protein works with your endocrine system to suppress hunger.
Sufficient sleep is also very important for appetite control. Wearing yourself out with a good exercise session is a great way to encourage a good night’s rest.
Get enough exercise, feel less hungry, sleep better and feel less hungry. It all works as a virtuous circle!
I always find exercise makes me hungrier, but later on in the day. Doesn't burning calories mean our bodies will be wanting more food for energy so make us feel hungrier?
that is interesting about temperature - I love my food but the recent heatwave really has reduced my appetite. Good to know I can replicate the effect when the weather breaks.