How Exercise Impacts Cravings and Hunger

Exercise affects the body in many different ways. From building muscle, burning calories, helping your heart stay healthy, and improving your overall health and mood, the benefits are endless. Additionally, intense exercise can change how your body reacts to cravings and hunger cues.

Here is what you need to know about how exercise can impact your cravings and hunger levels.

May Suppress Appetite

Exercise may decrease levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite in the short term, while increasing levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. The more intense your workout is, the truer this becomes.

Slows The Process of Digestion

It’s hard to digest food during exercise because blood gets diverted from your stomach to power your muscles that are being stressed during your workout, which means that you likely don’t feel hungry during intense exercise. The fact that digestion slows down during exercise also can lead to nausea and vomiting during exercise, and it’s hard to perceive how hungry you are when you are feeling this way. 

Temperature Increase

When you workout intensely, you get hot and your body temperature rises, and when you feel hot you’re typically not hungry. Your appetite also stays suppressed for a while once your workout is over, but how long your appetite is gone depends on the length and intensity of your workout. Most people don’t feel hungry again until their body has had a chance to cool off.

Also Can Increase Appetite

On the flip side, although you may not feel hungry during your workout, for some people exercise can actually increase their appetite due to the burning of calories and the increase of metabolic rate, muscle mass and hormone production. This could be why you feel intense hunger after exercising, and why it’s important to make sure you are choosing healthy foods to indulge in after your workout.

Post-workout nutrition also has very high importance. Whether your exercise goal involves weight loss or performance, it’s very important to make sure you refuel after a workout. If you’re trying to build muscle, getting the right amount of nutrients after a workout session is the key to making progress. Your body needs protein for muscle recovery and repair, and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen, which is the type of carbohydrates your body uses as fuel for intense exercise. If you don’t eat a good meal post-workout, you can feel lethargic and sluggish for the rest of the day, even continuing into your workout the next day.

The longer or harder the workout, the more important it is to eat a well-balanced and healthy meal or snack within 45 minutes of finishing whether you’re hungry or not. If you’re not hungry, try a protein shake with healthy ingredients. This speeds up the recovery process for your body and will ensure that you are getting enough nutrients.