Most women think of exercise and healthy eating as two totally separate things. But when it comes down to it, one really supports the other. For one, studies show that exercising can curb cravings for unhealthy foods and banish binge eating. The result: faster weight loss, better fitness results, and a lot more healthy living. Here are six ways to take advantage of exerciseâ€™s appetite-busting potential the next time you hit the gym.
1. Pick a Workout You Like
If you consider your workout a punishment, afterward, youâ€™re more likely to seek out a calorie-packed reward, according to 2014 research from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. You think, â€œHey, I endured that tortuous bootcamp, I deserve this ice cream cone.â€ However, if you think of your workout as fun, you donâ€™t feel the need to reward with food once you leave the gym. Researchers even found that the more fun you think your workout is, the less dessert youâ€™ll eat at mealtime and the fewer junky snacks youâ€™ll eat throughout the day. Win-win.
2. Perform Intervals
Slow and steady does not win the appetite-suppressing race. In fact, in one study from the University of Western Australia, men who completed 30 minutes of intense exercise intervals ate up to 170 fewer calories about an hour after working out than did those who performed moderate exercise for the same amount of time. Researchers believe intervals reduce levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin while increasing levels of blood lactate and blood glucose, both of which may suppress short-term food intake. Opt for a 1:4 rest ratio, for instance, running at top speed for one minute and then jogging at a slow recovery pace for four. Thatâ€™s the ratio researchers used in the study.
3. Drink Up
Dehydration loves to masquerade as hunger, according to a review from Purdue University. And if youâ€™re sweating it out in the gym, but not taking in enough water to make up for the fluid losses, you could easily wind up dehydrated. Enter post-workout hunger. To figure out how much water you need to down during your workout, try weighing yourself before and after your sweat session. If you weigh less after your workout than you did before it, you need to up your fluid intake.
4. Get on the Yoga Mat
Knowing the difference between true hunger and the mindless munchies is all about body awareness connection, and yoga has that down pat. In fact, research shows that practicing yoga can reduce binge-eating behaviors by 51 percent. Not only can body awareness practices help you determine when youâ€™re really hungry, but they can make you more sensitive to feelings of fullness so that you donâ€™t mindlessly overeat.
5. Get On Your Feet
No disrespect to swimming and cycling, but when it comes to keeping your appetite in check, weight-bearing exercisesâ€”meaning they keep you on your feet, fighting gravityâ€”are more effective, according to a 2013 study published in Appetite. When researchers asked guys to either jump rope (a weight-bearing exercise) or cycle on a stationary bike (a non-weight-bearing exercise), they found that the jumpers enjoyed a greater reduction in post-workout appetite. It may be because weight-bearing exercises put more stress on your muscles and your bones. Lift weights, go for a run, or try a kickboxing class.
6. Eat a Pre-Workout Snack
It turns out, eating a pre-workout snack before a workout leads to lower levels of post-workout appetite than does exercising on empty, according to research from Loughborough University in the U.K. Plus, if you exercise with some fuel in the tank, youâ€™ll be better able to perform high-intensity work, which is critical to burning calories, building muscle, and, yes, reducing appetite.