Health Notes By Our Medical Correspondent Will Exercise Step Up Your Appetite?
MANY people fear that exercise will do just that, and that the calories they burn while exercising will be more than made up for by extra food they’ll eat. Our understanding of the body’s energy regulation is spotty, but there’s some evidence that most people who work out moderately, eat about the same as they would if they didn’t exercise — or slightly more. Though competitive athletes in strenuous training eat more than they would otherwise, the extra calories seldom overtake their increased energy expenditure. However, by exercising regularly you’re likely to become trimmer and fitter even if your weight Stays the same, since you’ll be building muscle and using up body fat.
Studies on appetite and exercise haven’t come up with consistent results. The problem is that there are many variables involved, such as frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise; initial accumulation of body fat; metabolic rate; the amount and type of food available after exercise. Among the recent studies, one looked at a group of college men (none overweight). If found that the harder they exercised, the less hungry they were during the first hour after their workouts; however, their hunger increased slightly during the next several hours. Another study found that lean women who exercised moderately compensated by eating slightly more but only intake/expenditure equilibrium. Yet when the same researchers conducted two studies of obese women they found that the women did not compensate for exercise by eating more, despite free access to meals and snacks. Remember, however, that such short term experiments cannot explain the body’s regulation and adaptation processes during a long term exercise regimen. There is, in short, no definitive evidence that exercise always increases or always reduces appetite. But over the long haul, regular exercises will probably more than make up for any slight increase in appetite that you may experience.