Morning Exercise Reduces Daytime Food Cravings

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Forty-five minutes of moderate to vigorous morning exercise, such as a brisk walk or comfortable jog, can reduce your desire for food.  This is a good tip for individuals who struggle with food cravings.

It is fairly normal for an increase in exercise to dictate an increase in food consumption, since higher activity requires more food to sustain it.  This issue is frequently confused in the subconscious brains of overweight people, because signals that desire food are not based on true need. 

Researchers evaluated 18 normal weight, and 17 obese women, to determine the impact of brisk morning exercise on food desirability.  Based on looking at images of food, they measured brain waves one hour after exercise, and measured them on a day with no exercise. 

Results showed it was clear that exercise dampened the arousal activity associated with the perception of food.  This is a good thing, especially for overweight people who tend to be at the mercy of the “See Food Diet” (eat whatever is in sight).  The desire to acquire food simply for the sake of pleasure (hedonic food acquisition) is typically imbalanced in overweight people.

Of particular interest in this study is that the morning exercise period actually resulted in increased physical activity the remainder of the day, without increased food intake.  It is as if the morning increase in activity set the tone for the day, resulting in a generally more active person. 

The take-home message is that 45 minutes of brisk morning exercise helps balance your brain and creates a visual relationship to food that is more at ease.  It has the additional benefit of helping you have the energy to be more active the rest of the day, without wanting to eat increased amounts of food.  If such behavior can be sustained over many months, it is highly conducive to long-term, healthy weight loss.

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