What’s Exercise Have to do with Craving Sweets?

If after a major calorie burning workout session, you find yourself craving sweets, the findings of a recent study published in Time Magazine may surprise you.

Researchers who are singling out exercise as a deterrent to weight loss set out to follow kids who exercise the most, then eat back all the calories they just burned off, and then some. Kendrin Sonneville, Registered Dietitian at the Harvard School of Public Health responded to the study by saying that exercise does, in fact, increase your appetite. “The food-exercise equation is imbalanced. It may take an hour to burn 500 calories but only five minutes to eat them back,” she says.

If Exercise is Going to Make Me Hungrier, Why Do Some Recommend it As a Means to Overcoming Cravings For Sweets?

“In the short term, during or right after a workout, exercise may suppress hunger,” says Barry Braun, PhD, professor of kinesi­ology and director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “But later that day, your hunger hormones can surge, making you want to eat. At the same time, your body’s satiety hormones — the ones that signal that you’re full — may decrease.”

One of the best ways to keep your hormones at regular levels and even out the hunger pains that come with exercise is to do it on a regular schedule. During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which are known to make a person happier. Indulging in sugary treats also releases endorphins, but come with often unpleasant side effects–think mood swings, crashes, fogginess, etc. However, if you choose to run outside instead of to the fridge the next time you are craving sweets, the benefits will be longer lasting, and soon you will be craving the exercise more than the sweets.

How to Stop Eating Sugar Post Workout

While these recent news stories are hotly contested in the fitness world, what they have missed is the role that exercise plays in keeping pounds off long term. Many studies have shown that people who keep off weight are the ones that are physically active. Beyond keeping a slim appearance, exercise helps blast belly fat, reduce the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and makes you an overall happier person.

However, if you find yourself reaching for the sugary snacks as a treat for working out, its time to take a step back and analyze where your hunger is coming from. Maybe you hit a milestone during your workout and think you owe yourself a treat. In this case, maximize your food intake with a minimum amount of calories on healthy, filling foods to not lose the good feelings of achievement during workout.

Staying properly hydrated also plays an important role in overcoming sugar cravings. Even the most hardcore athletes get their body signals mixed and mistake thirst for hunger pains. Drinking before, during and after workouts will keep you feeling full and away from the sugar aisle when leaving the gym.


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