I remember back in my ‘younger days’, when I used to work-out quite a lot, I found that my appetite used to go through the roof. As a teenager I almost eat my parents out of house and home! Although my natural physiological energy needs required me to eat more than I used to as a child, the popular belief at the time was that being active boosted your appetite.
Today, it seems that has changed and being a hungry teenager was just part of growing up.
This is because new research in Brazil has found that exercise can actually help slow overeating. Before I go any further, let me quickly explain how hunger works…
Basically, the feeling of ‘hunger’ is partially determined by neurons in your brain. These neurons get this ‘hunger gossip’ from hormones like leptin and insulin. If your body builds up a resistance to these hormonal messages, there’s a good chance that you’ll start overeating.
Some physiologists even suggest that inflammation could play some part in mixing up these hunger signals. So where does the exercise bit come in?
Well, here’s where things get interesting…it seems that a compound (called IL-6 in case you’re taking notes) gets released from muscles when they contract…take a wild guess what muscles do all the time during exercise?
The really cool thing is that this compound has been found to "play a central role in the regulation of appetite, energy expenditure and body composition," according to the Brazil-based research team.
"These molecules were crucial for increasing the sensitivity of the most important hormones, insulin and leptin, which control appetite," José Carvalheira, of the Department of Internal Medicine at the State University of Campinas in São Paulo and coauthor of the new study, said in a prepared statement.
What this all means is that physical activity and exercise may help you feel less hungry and potentially reduce overeating. It’s not guaranteed but it’s definitely a contributing solution to the obesity epidemic experienced by some western societies.