Of course, I’m always interested in studies that show the benefits of exercise, but even I was surprised at several whose results indicated that exercise could make you eat healthier. It shouldn’t have amazed me. I see it all the time. People start working out, but often balk at the idea of clean eating and giving up fries and burgers. The more they workout, the easier it is to start changing eating habits and stick with healthy eating, even though they weren’t excited about it at first. The cravings for junk food disappear and healthy eating becomes a way of life.
Exercise boosts your will power.
There’s a scientific name for will power, it’s called inhibitory control and is an executive function of the brain. It’s that little voice that says, “don’t do it” that we all ignore occasionally. It helps you regulate actions and keeps your behavior healthy and appropriate. The more it’s worked, the more fatigued it grows and the harder it is to control behavior. Exercise boosts the bran an all executive functions, so you can casually think of eating a family size bag of chips, but resist that thought with ease. It makes it less likely that you’ll overeat or give in to unhealthy eating.
That boost in your brain power from exercise does even more.
There are hormones that go to the brain that tell you you’re full and it’s time to stop eating. When you exercise your body, your brain gets benefits too, as already noted. Not only does exercise boost inhibitory control, stopping you from eating a bag of chips just to hear the crunch, but it also heightens the awareness of fullness and sensitivity to leptin, the hormone that tells you that you’re full. Feeling full is a big motivation to stop eating, making weight loss easier.
Your digestive system cooperates with the more aware brain sensitivity.
Not all the change to your appetite occur in the brain. The gut makes ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite. It also makes peptide YY the hormone that keeps your appetite at bay. Studies show that exercise may actually reduce the amount of ghrelin, so you won’t feel as hungry and raise the levels of peptide YY, also reducing your appetite.
- In a study with 17 overweight individuals, it was found that moderate exercise and no exercise had no effect on their appetite, but intense interval exercise, lowered their appetite significantly.
- Exercising regularly focuses your mind on your health and fitness. That focus also tends to extend over to eating healthier and cleaner.
- Sometimes the problem isn’t hunger, but boredom. Exercise can provide an alternative to the boredom munchies. It helps you sleep better at night, too. That extra sleep can help you steer clear of sugary treats to boost your energy levels.
- When you exercise, even if you hydrate, you find yourself craving more refreshing foods, which include fresh fruits and vegetables. Clients often tell me that after exercise, a grapefruit or bowl of salad sounds far better as a snack than cookie.