There’s no disputing the medical science behind exercising for your heart’s health, especially when you look at the great opportunities available to us right outside our doors – after all, this IS the Hill Country! The result of weight loss plus the aerobic benefits can contribute positively to cardiac wellness. The downside though could be an increased appetite.

So what’s a fit-minded person to do? There’s no simple solution, but you could consider the timing and duration as well as type of activities you do to see how your appetite is affected. Several studies in recent years published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that the impact of exercise can vary greatly from one person to another – so jogging three miles may not make you hungry, but it could cause your running buddy to head straight for the fridge!

The reasons may be due to your own fitness level compared to your friend’s, especially if your friend is a different gender. Men and women don’t necessarily react in the same way as far as appetite effects, even when engaging in the same type of exercise.

Tips to keep moving AND keep calorie consumption at bay:

  • Some, but not all, studies found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may reduce appetite. HIIT describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity. Try running as fast as you can for one minute (or taking on one of our famous hills or trails!) and then resting for one or two minutes. HIIT typically involves alternating 30 or 60 seconds of all-out effort with one to two minutes of rest, a pattern that you repeat for the 20 to 30 minutes of a workout. Just be sure to get your doctor’s okay before beginning any new fitness regimen!
  • Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. Try drinking more water as a way to help curb hunger or even feel full faster.
    • Don’t drink water much? Here are some tips for better hydration:
      • Keep a glass or water bottle on your desk at work
      • Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water for extra flavor.
      • Toss a bottle of water in your bag or briefcase so you can drink up when you’re on the go.
      • Choose water when eating out.
  • Think about WHEN you exercise as well – some people find working out first thing in the morning reduces their appetite for several hours while others could end up ravenous. Evening workouts may be preferable, but they won’t be very beneficial if you come home and wind up eating more than you would normally.

Remember that the one thing all the researchers do seem to know is that everyone is different. So change when and for how long you exercise. See how your body responds and make that the right time and the right program that both you and your appetite can live with! And be sure to keep an eye on our “Classes and Events” section for upcoming HCM programs that could offer more insight too.

For more information about understanding your hunger cues, check out what the American Council on Exercise has to say.

Learn more about the NIH study