For years we’ve wondered whether exercise could actually increase hunger levels and make a person eat more food.
But new research suggests that working out is actually better for reducing daily calorie consumption than a focus on restricting food intake.
Scientists at Loughborough University found that women who exercised, as opposed to restricting what they ate, generally consumed fewer calories over a period of nine hours.
On average, participants who exercised consumed roughly 300 fewer calories (kcal) than those who had their food restricted.
A team of researchers from Loughborough University studied women’s hormonal, psychological and behavioural responses to calorie control through exercise and food restriction over the course of nine hours.
Where a calorie deficit was achieved by food restriction, participants showed increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of a hunger suppressing hormone called peptide YY.
They also ate more at a buffet meal compared with when the same energy deficit was created through exercise.
On average, participants ate 944 calories following food restriction and 660 calories following exercise.
The findings also showed that the response of the hormones ghrelin and peptide YY to exercise is the same for both men and women.
Dr David Stensel, from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, said: “Our findings provide a valuable contribution to the diet and exercise debate. We’ve shown that exercise does not make you more hungry or encourage you to eat more – at least not in the hours immediately following it.
“Our next step is to see whether this benefit continues beyond the first day of exercise.”
The study is published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.