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After you complete your exercise routine, are you feeling completely famished? Or on the flipside, do you have no appetite at all? There are so many factors that can affect appetite, including our age and stress levels. Exercise affects appetite too – which could be why so many people experience different feelings after they exercise. 

Let’s take a look to see how exercise affects appetite and how it can vary from one person to the next. 

woman in exercise clothes eating apple after workout

Appetite explained

Your appetite is a very individual thing.

Our bodies send us physical reminders that it is time to eat, and it is ultimately up to our appetite to determine if we want to eat. Exercise may have an impact on these hormones, which in turn may affect appetite. 

The hormones that come into play with regards to how ‘healthy’ your appetite is are usually referred to as appetite regulating hormones. Appetite regulating hormones include hunger hormones and hormones responsible for satiety. 

Exercise and appetite

If you’ve ever experienced a total lack of hunger after a workout, you might have experienced exercise-induced anorexia. It’s a term that is used to describe the suppression of appetite after exercise. This should not be confused with the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. 

Some studies have shown that appetite might be suppressed after exercise – but this may not necessarily lead to decreased caloric intake throughout the day. And you might be relieved to know that you’ll probably be back to usual pretty quickly.

Many studies have shown that any sudden changes of appetite normalize 30 to 60 minutes after exercise is over.  

Studies have found that both aerobic and resistance exercise decrease leptin levels, which results in an increased appetite. However, appetite suppressing hormones are typically more increased after aerobic exercise than resistance exercise. 

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Theoretically, that would mean that you’d be more likely to lose your appetite after aerobic exercise than other types. But so far, research is inconclusive. While hormonal changes do take place, they don’t seem to have a huge  impact on hunger, cravings, and energy intake. The researchers stated that these results may be due to the nutrient makeup of the meals consumed beforehand more so than the different types of exercises. 

Should you tailor exercise to your appetite?

There are a lot of benefits to exercise. While it still remains unclear if exercise really affects appetite, every person is different. So while your partner might be starving hungry after a run, you might not want to look at food at all.

Fueling up in a way which suits you is key to maintaining a balanced diet and sustainable exercise regime. This means taking your eating and exercise preferences into account.

man with big appetite eating huge burger piled high on plate

When appetite and hunger are suppressed, you might eat fewer calories throughout the day. But this isn’t always the case, as you tend to regain your appetite quite quickly. That’s part of the reason why it’s quite hard to lose weight through exercise alone.

Depending on the types of exercise, your diet might vary too. Strength training may require more protein to build muscle. On the other hand, marathon runners might focus more on consuming carbs, because they impact athletic performance. But what you eat can also be the culprit for a change in appetite. You’re likely to feel full for longer if you eat lots of protein, for example.

When beginning a new exercise program or continuing a current one, it is important to stay mindful of your hunger cues. The meals you eat while you follow an exercise program may also have an impact on your appetite and hunger. Using a fitness watch to track your fitness goals along with a meal planning app like Samsung Food can help you to spot patterns and to adjust your diet to suit your lifestyle.