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Does exercise curb hunger?

The latest research findings contradict previous studies that suggest exercise makes people eat more.

Scientists at Loughborough University in England have found exercising to be more effective than a traditional diet in helping to limit daily calorie consumption.

The hormonal, psychological and behavioural responses of female subjects to calorie control through exercise and food restriction were examined over the course of nine hours.

Where an energy (calorie) deficit was achieved by food restriction, participants in the study displayed increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of a hunger suppressing hormone peptide YY. The participants also ate almost a third more at a buffet meal compared with another occasion when the same energy deficit was created via exercise (participants ate an average 944 calories following food restriction compared to 660 calories after exercise).

Participants in the study were non-smokers, not taking medication and not on a diet. They had no known history of cardiovascular disease and were recreationally active, i.e., were familiar with exercise but not formally trained in endurance activities such as running or cycling.

“Participants were given access to a buffet meal and were told to eat until satisfied and that more food was available if desired.”

Subjects completed a weighed food diary in the 24 hours before exercising and replicated this before each subsequent session. No alcohol, caffeine, and strenuous physical activity were permitted before training sessions. All exercises commenced between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. after an overnight fast of at least 10 hours. Verbal confirmation of dietary and exercise standardization was obtained at the beginning of each session.

Participants were given access to a buffet meal and were told to eat until satisfied and that more food was available if desired. They were not aware that their food intake was being monitored. All the meals were consumed in isolation so that social influence did not affect food selection.Dr David Stensei and colleagues at the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands found the response of the hormones ghrelin and peptide YY to exercise is the same for both men and women.

“Our findings provide a valuable contribution to the diet and exercise debate. We’ve shown that exercise does not make you hungrier 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,” Stensei said in a statement.

With the latest findings scientists provided new information regarding the short-term appetite, food intake and appetite hormone responses to training and food-induced energy deficits in men and women.

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