How to handle an increased post-workout appetite

Here's how you can learn to curb post-workout hunger cravings.

Is post-workout hunger a thing? While different studies related to the query yield different results, many of us that experience an increased appetite post-workout would certainly answer with a “yes.”

Keep your post-workout appetite in check by implementing low-intensity activities into your routine. Photo: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

According to research, there are two hormones that regulate hunger in the body: gherlin, which stimulates appetite in the short term, and peptide YY, which suppresses appetite. Depending on which workout you are choosing, you may be producing either more gherlin or peptide YY.

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Hormones aside, an increased appetite as a result of working out may stem from how intense your activity levels are. Higher-intensity workouts will yield higher rates of hunger, whereas lower-intensity workouts (think jogging, yoga, etc.) may result in suppressed hunger levels.

So if you experience hunger pangs after your workout, what can you do to combat cravings? We have a few suggestions.

Make healthy snacks pre-workout

Planning snacks can make a big difference in post-workout cravings. Photo: Jannis Brandt/Unsplash

If you’re constantly hungry after a workout, try having responsible options on hand whenever hunger strikes. That way, if you are refueling, at least you’re doing it right.

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Try a workout proven to decrease appetite

Low intensity workouts such as swimming have been proven to suppress appetite. Photo: Todd Quackenbush/Unsplash

Lower-intensity workouts are proven to help suppress hunger -- if you’re stuck in a cycle where you absolutely must eat after activity, try incorporating one or two of the following routines into your schedule: yoga, a light walk, swimming, and anything that keeps your heart rate between 40 to 50 percent of your max.

Avoid “treating” yourself after an intense workout with unhealthy options

They look innocent, but over time, their effect is anything but nice. Photo: Darius Soodmand/Unsplash

You may think you’ve “earned” that cookie after your run, but think again. Filling your body with unhealthy fuel after burning calories doesn’t mean you’re breaking even. There are still negative effects, no matter how hard you push yourself.

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There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and then, but if you’re eating junk food after every session, you may be training your body to crave those foods automatically, whether you truly want them or not.