Exercise can make you crave for healthy foods


01. Exercise can actually help alter the nature of your cravings

Breaking a sweat in the gym will more likely than not stir up your appetite. After all, feeling hungry is a message from your body that it needs to be refueled. But where you get the fuel from makes a lot of difference in terms of getting proper nutrition. While you might be craving for a burger or a donut after a workout, your body is probably beckoning a salad or a chicken breast. But don’t worry. Once exercising becomes a habit, you will probably oblige to the dietary needs of your body, because an exercise routine might help in craving for healthy foods. And here’s how.



02. Hunger controlling hormones

Several studies have found that exercise affects the two hunger controlling hormones, ghrelin, which stimulates hunger; and peptide YY, which signals satiety. Fairly vigorous and continuous exercise causes the hunger-triggering hormone ghrelin to return to normal levels, thus suppressing appetite. Aerobic exercise also stimulates peptide YY which leads to an increase in satiety. With the appetite getting suppressed, one’s natural tendency would be to veer towards food that the body actually requires, rather than opting for food to satiate desires.



03 Dopamine level

Even moderate exercise is enough to change the level of dopamine in the body. British researchers have found that this ‘high’ that is produced in the body acts as a buffer against cravings for high-fatty foods like chips and chocolates. This change leads to healthier food cravings.



04 Transfer effect

A research team from Indiana University, USA linked exercise and healthier food cravings, to a phenomenon known as the transfer effect, wherein learning new skills and improving in one field automatically triggers a desire for improvement in another field. In this case, exercise is the field of improvement, which triggers an improvement in diet. This phenomenon is why people automatically shift towards eating healthy food, even though it may not have originally been part of the plan. Soon, this transference becomes a habit rather than a mental effort.



05  The take-home message

Many experiments have concluded that people who exercise more crave healthier foods and are able to suppress junk food cravings more easily. The benefits of exercise do not just benefit us physically or physiologically, but they also play a big role in mental health. Exercise is a highly sought after method for stress relief, and it also helps in better sleep. So without further ado, pack your gym bag, buckle your shoes, and go set the gym on fire (not literally, please).

 
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