New research from Brigham Young University (BYU) indicates that exercise can actually reduce food cravings and contradicts popular assumptions. Researchers studied the neural activity of a group of women to see how they would respond to food images. Instead of seeing an increase in activity, they found that the response was lower. Although this study specifically measured neural activity, previous research has found a similar decrease in food cravings after exercise.
The Study from Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University researchers conducted a study on 35 women. The size of the group is small and will need to be expanded for future studies. However, BYU found that the subjects exhibited the same response to exercise. After a morning workout, the women's neural activity was measured. The researchers discovered "diminished food motivation" or lower response to images of food. Essentially, the study participants were not craving more food after exercising.
It has been widely accepted that exercise increases appetite, but the research from Brigham Young University contradicts this. There may be more factors involved in food cravings and feelings of hunger than previously understood. In addition, all the participants in this study exercised in the morning, and there may be an unknown link tied to the time of the activity.
Previous Studies on Exercise and Food
Brigham Young University researchers are not the first to find a link between exercise and food cravings. In March 2012, a paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology from California Polytechnic State University found that people who exercised in the study craved less food. The group that had vigorous exercise did not respond to images of food. Similar to the BYU study, only 30 people participated in the research, so this number will have to be expanded in the future.
One of the main differences between the Brigham Young University and California Polytechnic State University studies is the type of participants. Brigham expanded on the previous research by including obese individuals instead of only allowing fit participants. The results show that there is no significant difference between the obese and fit women in the study because both types show a decrease in food motivation after exercise.
More from this contributor:
Lana has a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry. She is an avid athlete, youth coach and follows several sports. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.