Does Working Out Boost Food Cravings?

The myth: Working out boosts food cravings. True or false? Mike Dawson has the answer.

Logic dictates that after working out, you should want to chow down. After all, firing those muscles and upping your heart rate burns through your body's food-fed fuel tank fast. While there's no denying that hitting the gym will eventually lead to hunger pangs and stomach growls, a new study by exercise researchers at Brigham Young University shows that after a decent bout of exercise, your brain's desire for food actually lessens.

The study had young women run hard on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Soon after the workout, researchers measured their brain waves as they were shown hundreds of enticing photos of fattening foods (dumplings, cookies, cakes, etc.). Based on their neural activity spikes, the subjects were far less lustful for food post-workout than when they gazed at the mouthwatering meals sans sweat session.

What's interesting here is the subtext: When you don't exercise, you'll want bad-for-you food even more. That's a vicious, belly-growing cycle (and a partial explanation for America's obesity problem). Remember that the next time you feel like ditching your boot-camp class.

— Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.

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