Nutrition-wise blog

Exercise, hunger and weight loss

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. April 25, 2013

It's frustrating to diet and exercise, and yet not see the results you anticipate.

I see this every day. I work with both men and women in weight-loss programs and see a range of results. Some individuals increase their exercise and change their eating habits and the pounds drop. Others weigh in week after week to see the scale barely budge. While some admit to lapses, there are others who are putting forth a good effort but aren't seeing the desired results.

What is offsetting these efforts? In this blog I'd like to address one possible answer. (Stay tuned, I'll address another possible factor in the next blog.)

It appears that some people are more likely than others to compensate for the energy burned during exercise. In other words, some people's bodies are more geared toward maintaining a calorie balance. If they burn energy during exercise, they want to eat to replace it.

While it has long been thought that exercise diminishes appetite, this is not a universal truth. Some individuals find that hard exercise can increase their appetite. Scientists have confirmed that some people have an increased level of appetite hormones that drives eating after exercise.

If you're among those who experience increased hunger following exercise, be prepared. If you're exercising prior to a meal, have water on hand and your meal ready. Don't double up with a recovery snack and then a meal. Make your meal rich in carbohydrates, such as fruits, whole grains and low-fat milk. In addition to the protein in the milk, add another good-quality protein, such as beans, fish, lean meat or eggs. Include veggies to fill you up and keep your appetite and calories in check.

What are your experiences with exercise, hunger and weight? What strategies have you found that work for you? Or do you plan to try a new strategy?

Here's to your health,


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April 25, 2013