Exercise and appetite suppression – Can exercise really curb hunger?

Introduction and background

There are number of methods people try to control their raging appetites to lose weight. Many go after diet, weight control pills and herbal supplements to get over their ever increasing appetite. Few would consider exercise as an appetite suppressant. Exercise not only be done to tone body and burn fats but could also help in suppressing appetite. Luckily exercises are always healthy but after some of these workouts one might feel hungrier and ends up taking bulk of calories. There are certain types of exercises that work better than others at decreasing appetite. It is also evident that if you vigorously exercise before you eat, you will actually eat less because of an increase in your body temperature and an alteration in your hormone levels. How does exercise curb hunger? The answer to this question lies in the fact that exercise may lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite in the short term, while raising levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. It is also found that frequent exercise can make you appear slimmer by restoring sensitivity to brain neurons that control satiety. The more you exercise, more easily you could tune your appetite signals which may aid in counteracting them.


Exercise, a natural appetite suppressant

While your appetite may increase if you significantly increase your workout regimen, generally, you are less likely to consume large portions following your gym session. Consistent, moderate exercise helps stimulate the hypothalamus in your brain, causing it to secrete a hormone that actually inhibits hunger. Along with the hypothalamus activation, exercise increases our need for hydration. Water is a well known natural appetite suppressant. By drinking more fluid, we tend to feel fuller longer. Often times when we think we are hungry, we are just dehydrated. Drinking water helps curb the desire to eat more frequently.

Relationship between exercise and appetite

The relationship between exercise and appetite is a complex relationship. Aerobic exercise has been publicized as a way to reduce appetite potentially increasing weight loss. This effect has been termed the anorexia of exercise. The effect appears to be commonly found after exercising at greater than 60% of maximum oxygen consumption. This decreased appetite after exercise has been possibly due to the redistribution of blood flow from the gastrointestinal tract to the peripheral muscles. However, a temporary reduction in appetite following exercise may not actually correlate with a reduced caloric consumption over a more extended period of time.


Effects of type of exercise on appetite suppression

The type of physical activity performed will affect your hunger level. Aerobic exercise may suppress hunger, but resistance training may not. Simple exercises that can easily be made part of daily routine helps you burn your fats and suppress hunger.


Jogging, running, elliptical training

Physical activities like jogging, running,elliptical training and spinning aids maintaining a noticeable body shape and affects your food intake as well. These cardio exercises that increase heart rate and respiration increase body temperature, which in turn increases how many calories you burn. Such simple physical activities that warm your body suppress hunger signals from hypothalamus. Also helps low indulgence of calories. 



On the other hand exercises that do not increase body temperature, such as swimming or working out in the cold still burn ample calories, but will leave you feeling hungry after the activity is complete. It is because submerging your body in cool water makes it lose heat, and this seems to prevent the release of hormones that suppress appetite. But you can make up for after pool munchies by warming up with a brisk walk or hot drink.


Resistance Exercises

Fitness activities like weight lifting and aerobics burn fat, build muscle, strengthen bones and can lead to decreased appetite. Try lifting free weights or use machines or other resistance equipment as they lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone so you might not feel like eating right after you put away the dumbbells.


Effects of exercise Intensity on appetite

Exercise intensity can also affect appetite. This is another factor that affects your post workout appetite; intensity of the exercise session and body temperature. Higher-intensity activities have better appetite-suppressing effects than lower-intensity ones. Interestingly, men tend to have a greater reduction in appetite immediately after working out at moderate to high intensity levels than women do.



The relationship between physical activity and food consumption can take a number of forms, depending on the intensity, duration and frequency of the activity, and upon the degrees of fitness and physiological status of the individual. However, a session of intense exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can repress hunger by boosting levels of appetite suppressing hormones. Exercise can help you lose weight because it burns calories. Exercise leads to appetite suppression making negative energy balance easier to achieve.