Fact v. Fiction: Exercise Increases Appetite
Fact and Fiction. It may seem logical to think that the more calories we burn by exercising, the more food our bodies will need immediately following a workout. But research shows that exercise has little to no effect on hunger levels or daily caloric intake. In fact, some studies have shown that vigorous exercise can actually help to suppress hunger due to the effect that intense physical activity has on appetite-regulating hormones. These effects take place in the short-term, particularly during and after exercise. Long-term energy intake has been shown to increase slightly with increased physical activity. But the extra calories you take in are typically less than the number of calories burned through exercise, and the result is still a negative energy balance which is needed in order to lose weight and decrease body fat.
Not seeing these results? You could be misjudging the number of calories you burn during exercise and the number of calories that you’re consuming each day. You can combat this effect by avoiding the temptation to look at exercise as a green light to make poor food choices. Instead of sabotaging your workout efforts, reward yourself with healthy meals that support and fuel your fitness goals.
Unsure how to fuel up before, during, and after your sweat sessions? Check out this ACE blog post for snack ideas and make the most out of your workouts whether you exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
Jessica Matthews is an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. As a contributor to The Juice Bar, she'll be giving you the scoop on the latest fitness classes, decoding newfangled gym equipment, debunking exercise myths, and more.
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