Ugh—> scientific studies.
After doing this fitness writing thing for 10+ years, it never ceases to amaze me when scientific research comes up with conflicting results.
I can prove almost any point…
…by cherry picking studies that back my beliefs.
How does exercise affect your appetite?
I personally crave less food after exercising.
Some people get ravenous after exercise.
So what gives?
Does exercise increase or decrease appetite?
The research isn’t clear on this.
There are several studies finding that exercise increases appetite… and several finding that exercise decreases appetite.
I see a few patterns when it comes to exercise and appetite.
Most of us would like it if exercise decreased their appetite.
I DO think it is possible.
The focus of this post?
Viewing exercise as an appetite suppressant.
Before I dig into all that, here’s a killer tune.
*The music theme for this blog post will be live performances at the KEXP radio station here in Seattle.
Starting with HÆLOS <—Love this group.
I want to start all of this with a disclaimer.
After 30 years of observation and experimentation, these are the tips that have worked well for me… and the majority of people I’ve worked with directly.
Give them a shot.
If they work for you?
Move forward with them.
Experiment and “dial in” a method that works best for you.
Optimum fitness is a lifelong experiment.
As soon as you think you have your body mastered?
Your body changes.
- Lower body weight means you require less calories.
- Muscle growth can plateau.
- As you get older hormone levels decline.
- Then there’s pregnancy, menopause, etc.
Even good exercise templates need to be personalized.
This is why I encourage tweaks to my fitness programs.
Same with the tips in this post.
…which I’ll share with you after this performance by The xx 🙂
People like articles with numbers.
Since people on the Internet have spoken…
I’ll number these bad boys.
Tip 1: End Your Workout With an “HGH Flush”.
I have written quite a bit about this over the past 10 years.
What is an HGH Flush?
It is referring to the appearance of your skin after intense HGH-producing exercise.
There are a bunch of workouts that can accomplish this.
The goal is to train in a way that makes you short of breath and where your skin is radiating heat.
Think cardio intervals, bodyweight intervals, CrossFit, etc.
Why boost natural HGH production?
HGH helps the body burn fat, maintain strength, etc.
The boost from exercise isn’t huge…
…but any increase helps.
There is also an appetite suppressing effect of this type of exercise.
The more intense the exercise, the less ghrelin (hunger hormone) the body produces.
Body Temperature… is now thought to play a large role in hunger suppression.
Here’s the idea:
- Core temperature gets raised during intense exercise.
- Blood flow gets redistributed to the muscles and skin.
- Digestion is shut down until blood flow normalizes and the body cools down.
During this 1-2 hour period the body craves less food.
After this 1-2 hour period you WILL get a short surge where you do crave food again.
This increase in hunger should pass in 15-20 minutes.
I sip on a large cup of green tea during this “hunger window”.
This works really well.
When possible try to leave the gym in an HGH flushed state.
My total workout time is about 60 minutes.
30 minutes lifting and 30 minutes of HIIT cardio.
It doesn’t HAVE to take this long.
Here’s a post I wrote that discusses time and fitness goals: The One Minute Workout.
Lot’s of ways to accomplish this.
“Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks now. Let me kick it like it’s 1986 now. Might be over now, but I feel it still.” – Portugal. The Man
Just work to get past the short window of hunger that happens 1-2 hours later.
Hot tea works for me.
Experiment with other NO-calorie or LOW-calorie options.
Tip 2: Avoid Workouts That Make You Excessively Sore
(If fat loss is your goal.)
It turns out that the body craves more food when it is in repair mode.
The hunger increase doesn’t happen the day of the workout.
The big increase in hunger happens the day after.
Here’s what I have witnessed.
The larger the muscle breakdown?
The larger the increase in hunger.
Don’t take my word for it.
Pay attention to your eating habits any time you experience more muscle soreness than normal.
My guess is that these are the times when it is toughest to stick to your diet.
When I have coached a client for fat loss…
The goal was to do everything in my power to ensure that their workouts didn’t make them too sore.
This is the way my courses are designed as well.
In my opinion…
Sore muscles and fat loss diets do NOT mix well.
If fat loss is your goal?
Train in a way that increases strength…
…without breaking down the muscle too much.
Here’s a post I wrote about how to do that: Gain Strength Without Excess Size
If gaining muscle quickly is your goal?
Then blitzing and breaking down the muscle is a solid approach.
Just watch out for fat gain from the increased appetite.
Tip 3: View the Act of Exercising as the Reward
Many people, who have a tough time losing weight, reward themselves for exercising.
…and more often than not that reward is food.
If you are Intrinsically Motivated to exercise?
You don’t need a reward.
The exercise IS the reward.
This is a pattern I see for long-term success in any field.
The ACT is the REWARD.
Here’s a final music video that demonstrates this concept perfectly.
Watch Macklemore & Ryan Lewis here in 2011.
- Before they had a hit single on the radio.
- Before their first album was released.
- Before the general public had heard this song.
- No guarantees that they would ever make it big.
… but Macklemore’s enthusiasm is insane here.
You can tell that he finds joy in performing his art.
This footage makes me smile.
People who find exercise rewarding on it’s own, tend to have an easier time losing body fat and staying lean.
It’s a mindset thing…
…and maybe the most important of the 3 tips.
Find a way to enjoy exercise as much as Macklemore enjoys performing in this video.
Sticking to your diet will become easy.