Reason #5,989,432 to Exercise: Decrease Hunger Pains, Increase Satiety

OK, the number is fabricated and completely arbitrary; however, I am sticking to the notion that there are more reasons to exercise than not. There are multiple studies that are linking exercise to suppressed appetite, which means a double-whammy for calories as you burn them during exercise and consume less in your diet.

The University of Campinas found that exercise increases two specific proteins in your hypothalamus that are responsible for appetite control. The presence of these proteins in the part of the brain that receives information from hunger hormones, such as leptin and insulin, allows your brain to become more sensitive to signals of hunger and satiety. This means that you are more accurate in your assessment of when to eat and when to stop.

Additionally, the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation found that participants who burned an extra 500 calories a day during the course of the study began to feel fuller quicker at each meal, allowing them to stop when comfortably full and reduce the risk of binging.

If you are still struggling with hunger as you increase your exercise routine, consider the following tips to keep you on track with your goals.

  • Do not skip meals. Speaking of hormones and feedback loops, the hormone ghrelin, responsible for signaling hunger, can wreak havoc on your ability to make wise food choices if you let it get out of hand. Minimize its effects by keeping the signal minimal and fuel your body all day long by eating breakfast within an hour of waking and eating every 2-4 hours, depending on your activity level.
  • Choose your snacks and meals wisely. Protein, good fats (i.e. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and fiber take longer to break down than other foods. Replace your refined and processed carbohydrate foods that cause a spike in blood sugar (followed by a spike in insulin that results in a crash later), with healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrate sources that are also full of fiber (think fruits and vegetables) that keep you full and happy longer.
  • Drink lots of water. It is tough to say specifically how much water you need. Eight glasses a day may or may not be enough, especially if you live in the South in the summer and exercise every day. The best thing to do is keep a glass or BPA-free water bottle present and drink throughout the day, with meals in between. You can also supplement water intake by eating fruits and vegetables, which are encouraged anyway.

Lesson learned from the above-mentioned studies: exercise regularly and listen to your body as it pertains to hunger and satiety. Taking care of your body with regular exercise, as well as healthy meal choices and portions, allows your body to become more efficient in secretion, delivery, and absorption of vital nutrients, enzymes and hormones. If you can fuel your body wisely throughout the day, you can successfully increase or maintain exercise without overdoing the tendency to overdo calories in. Happy noshing and sweating!