For a lot of people a workout is followed by an intense sensation of hunger. To many others, however, the tiring experience does not make the body call for nutrients. It’s a pretty strange situation to be in, actually.
Why does this happen?
As researchers and experienced athletes found out, hunger levels are directly influenced by how intense the physical activity is. Shortly put, if you didn’t train hard enough, you won’t be too hungry – maybe not at all. You need to reach a certain level of effort and consequent exhaustion in order for your body to call for food. At times, exhaustion itself may lead you to feel like you cannot eat anything. In such cases, you may not be able to go for a big meal but you should at least have a snack for refueling. It can be dangerous to experience that actually – the sensation of tiredness may get you to overlook your body’s real need for good nutrition after a serious effort.
The hunger hormones
Exercising affects ghrelin levels – which is the hunger hormone that tells you to eat when it’s decreasing to certain low levels. Also, peptide YY is involved here too. Its levels soar when you exercise, which suppresses the hunger sensation. This may happen even when the training intensity led you to burn a significant amount of calories.
The types of workouts and their various effects
HIIT, sprints and generally all high intensity workouts act in the direction of suppressing the appetite. Moderate of light exercises don’t have the same effect but these may not prompt you to eat a full meal either. In addition, lifting weights, as opposed to training weight-free, is bound to decrease hunger levels.
Should you still eat after workouts, even when not hungry?
If you’re experiencing a lack of post-workout appetite, you may be tempted to believe your body didn’t train hard enough to give it nutrients. You’ll be under the impression that it needs nothing for the time being. Still, the hunger will set in soon enough and when that happens, people often reach for a quick fix – like junk food. To keep your fitness goals in sight, simply know that hunger will set in and you must take your time to eat proper food. If you’re dealing with unhealthy cravings, control the urge and opt for nutritious foods. Do not hope that this lack of hunger may help you burn fat. It’s been noticed far too many times already that the appetite returns full force later on and causes people to eat maybe even more than they were planning. You will surely be catching up once your body ‘awakens’ from its temporary exhaustion and might feel tempted to compensate with bad, fattening foods.
Also, don’t forget to hydrate. This is another very important aspect to be mentioned here. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. You could be needing water, so give yourself plenty of it. Don’t be afraid that drinking it might suppress your hunger even further, it won’t.
Your fitness pal