How exercise tells the brain to curb appetite by M.D. Thordis Berger

Posted in Medical and tagged hunger, exercise, fitness, wellbeing, health , brain

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Hunger is a complex phenomenon. Learn how exercise can help control appetite and how this supports your fitness goals.

Hunger is a complex phenomenon, determined in part by neurons located in the hypothalamus, which send signals to the brain telling it that you're either hungry or sated. Those neurons get their message from hormones, including those called insulin and leptin.

When the body develops a resistance to these messengers, people become more prone to overeating and weight gain (see here 4 reasons why it's hard to lose weight). And scientists have begun to suspect that cellular inflammation might be at least partly responsible for allowing these signals to get out of control. 

If you’re looking to lose weight, adding exercise rather than just cutting calories may be the way to go. You can calculate your ideal weight here.

Regular exercise plays an important part in improving leptin resistance and decreasing inflammation.[1]

Several studies have also looked at the effect exercise has on two other hormones thought to control hunger: ghrelin, which stimulates hunger, and peptide YY, which signals satiety and that suppresses appetite.

Apparently, exercise may lower levels of ghrelin, while raising levels of peptide YY .[2][3]Yet, this observation was only made if the workout was intense, but the more intense it was, the longer the benefit seemed to last. Here are the best machines to use for a high-intensity circuit.

However, physical activity may also raise concentrations of longer-term appetite-stimulating hormones like insulin and leptin which lead to refuel the energy our body has used up.[4]

brain appetite illustration weight loss | Holmes Place

Here's where the frequency of exercise is of importance: it appears to help restore sensitivity to brain neurons that control satiety.[5]In other words, the more you do it, the more in harmony you become with your hunger signals, which may aid in offsetting them.

Besides these results, here are additional reasons and motivation to exercise regularly: Studies have found that intense training, no matter how abbreviated, usually improves aerobic fitness and some markers of health, including blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, as effectively as much longer sessions of moderate exercise.

To summarize, some of the many factors linked to physical activity that may help to control appetite and therefore long-term weight control are: 

1. Intensity

Harder workouts tend to temporarily suppress appetite more efficient than low- to moderate-intensity exercise

2. Duration 

The longer you exercise, the longer it's going to take for your body systems to return to baseline and cue your hunger.

3. Frequency

The more often you do longer and intense workouts, the better your body responds to the hormones that helps controlling appetite.

If you are looking for classes that can help you get the right amount of exercise - fast -check-out our new Xpress Classes.

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[1]Reseland, JE et al. (2001). Effect of long-term changes in diet and exercise on plasma leptin concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(2), 240-245.

[2] Alajmi N. Appetite and Energy Intake Responses to Acute Energy Deficits in Females versus Males. Med Sci Sports Exerc.2016 Mar;48(3):412-20. 

[3]Thackray, AE et al. Exercise, Appetite and Weight Control: Are There Differences between Men and Women? Nutrients. 2016 Sep; 8(9): 583.


[4]B Perry Appetite regulation and weight control: the role of gut hormones - NatureNutrition and Diabetes (2012) 2, e26

[5]Blundell JEet al. Physical activity and regulation of food intake: current evidence.

Med Sci Sports Exerc.1999 Nov;31(11 Suppl):S573-83.



Posted in Medical and tagged hunger, exercise, fitness, wellbeing, health , brain.