Appetite and Exercise


Many people report a big change in appetite depending on what kind of workout they do. Recent research has studied this–at least with running, swimming and cycling–and suggests that:

  • Running decreases appetite the most, in proportion to calories expended, maybe because of all that jostling to your gut.

  • Swimming may increase appetite, maybe because of getting cold, which may explain why swimming is less effective than other sports for weight loss. While this is a major bummer for those of us with bad joints, it suggests we should try warmer pools that don’t leave us cold.

  • Cycling is in the middle, seeming to mildly reduce appetite.

It also appears that the more intense the exercise, the more appetite is suppressed. This makes sense, since tough exercise redirects blood away from the digestive system to go to working muscles. I suspect that appetite may rebound later, however, as many clients report feeling hungry later on in the day of a tough workout. This is a bummer, since muscles absorb the most carbohydrate and protein right after exercise, especially in that first hour, and less so as time passes.

Of course, research only tells us how most people react most of the time, and researchers keep emphasizing that appetite is a very complex thing, not well understood yet. Pay attention to your own exercise-appetite connection and see what works best for you.

Have a good week!


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