How exercise impacts hunger

Ever wondered if exercise increases or decreases hunger?

From building muscle to burning calories, to keeping your heart strong, exercise affects your body in many ways. Exercise — especially long and intense exercise — can even change how your body responds to hunger. Here’s what you need to know about hunger and your workouts.

Exercise type and intensity impacts hunger & cravings

During your workout, you won’t experience hunger, partially because blood gets diverted from your stomach to your working muscles. It’s hard to digest food when working out since your blood is diverted from your digestive system to your skeletal muscles instead. Incidentally, the fact digestion slows is a common culprit for nausea and vomiting during exercise.

Exercise impacts the hormones that regulate hunger. For example, research reveals that different types of exercise influence the ways in which exercise impacts hunger:

  • A 60-minute run, or our cardio programs on the LK Fitness App, can cause the hormone that stimulates appetite to drop, and a digestive system hormone that suppresses appetite to rise.
  • A 90-minute strength session can cause the hormone that stimulates appetite to drop, though it didn’t affect the digestive system hormone that suppresses appetite.

Exercise intensity is another factor to consider. A small study found that:

  • Running for shorter durations at a higher intensity (36 minutes at 75% maximum heart rate), or doing our HIIT programs on the LK Fitness App, reduces the hormone, that stimulates appetite more than running for longer periods at a lower intensity (55 minutes at 50% maximum heart rate).
  • Short and/or low-intensity exercise may also suppress hunger, but it’s more likely to happen with longer and/or more intense exercise.

Also read the article Burn Fat Fast.

Your appetite often stays suppressed for some time once your workout is over, too, but how long this lasts may depend on the duration and intensity of the exercise.

The importance of post-workout nutrition for weight loss & performance

Whether your exercise goal involves weight loss or performance, it’s important to refuel after a hard workout. If you don’t have an appetite, that might be harder to do, or you might assume that you don’t need to eat because you aren’t hungry.

But if you’re trying to build muscle or improve your performance, getting nutrients after a tough session is key for making progress. Protein is necessary for muscle recovery and repair, and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. Plus, if you skimp on food post-workout, you may feel sluggish during your workout the next day.

Keep in mind the longer or harder the workout, the more important it is to eat a well-balanced meal or snack within 45 minutes of finishing — whether you’re hungry or not. If you’re not hungry, liquids may be easier to digest, such as a protein shake or smoothie, depending on the meal plan you’re following.

If you were hoping to use the appetite-suppressing powers of exercise to eat fewer calories during the day, and therefore speed up your weight loss, you should rethink your approach. When your hunger returns post-exercise, you may find you’re ravenous, making you less inclined to make smart food choices.

Another tip is that you shouldn’t choose your exercises based on how much they suppress your appetite. It’s better to include both cardio and strength exercises given their different benefits, and within that choose enjoyable activities so you’re more likely to stick with them long-term.

Now that you know how exercise impacts hunger, did you know that…

There’s a difference between hunger, appetite and cravings. Read more here.

Adapted from an article by writer Lauren Bedosky posted to

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