Exercise burns calories, so you might assume it makes you feel hungrier. It turns out that’s not true. US News points to several studies showing that your desire to eat actually decreases after a workout.
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Brigham Young University conducted a study to test how women responded to eating after exercise and without exercise. The California Polytechnic State University conducted a more comprehensive study, including men and women, engaging in a larger variety of physical activity.
While both study sizes were fairly small, each clearly found the desire to eat decreased in participants (based on their responses and brain activity). We’re not actually desiring food after exercise, but we tend to eat more anyway. In fact, we’ll eat more if we even think about exercise. US News explains:
Psychologists at the University of Leeds, in England, observed that compensatory eating post-exercise is common among “hedonic eaters”-people who eat for pleasure rather than to maintain energy balance, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. In the study, “compensators” showed signs of hedonic hunger. Not only did they eat more than “non-compensators” after a high-intensity workout, but they also rated the food more palatable and had more interest in high-fat, sweet foods.
When you’re hungry, you should eat, but pay attention to how you actually feel rather than what you want. You may just think you’re hungry after exercise when, in reality, you’re not.