Does exercising increase the urge to eat?

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A work by Spanish researchers analyzed the effect of physical exercise on calorie intake

Scientific evidence has already shown that the practice of regular physical exercise is one of the best resources to avoid overweight and obesity. Now, a group of Spanish scientists focused on investigating a widespread belief: if physical activity increases the desire to eat.

The work, in which researchers from the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) participated, allowed us to analyze the effect of practicing physical exercise in calorie intake and how you can help combat overweight and obesity problems by modulating your diet.

How does exercise affect diet? Does it produce a greater sensation of hunger by increasing calorie consumption? Does it make a person have a preference for some foods over others?

These questions were raised by researchers from the Research Group of the Laboratory of Exercise Physiology (LFE Research Group) of the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the UPM who worked on the PRONAF study (Nutrition and Physical Activity Programs for Obesity treatment), one of the biggest of this kind made to date.

The work of the UPM researchers focused on analyzing whether a specific type of exercise could favor a better adherence to diet prescribed, higher diet-related motivation, a healthier diet composition, or greater changes in body composition in overweight and obese people.

Obesity is a public health problem that is related to numerous risk factors for cardiovascular disease and comorbidities, recalled researcher Ana Belén Peinado, who observed that several studies served to verify that exercise can modulate food intake and contribute to regulation of appetite, the total calorie intake and the composition of the diet itself.

“However, the type of exercise that could induce greater physiological and behavioral changes, related to eating behavior and food intake, still unclear“, explained the researcher in an article published by the university.

This relationship is what the researchers have studied, who worked on a sample of 300 people who were analyzed more than 2,500 variables.

The results obtained now did not show substantial effects of exercise type on energy intake, macronutrient selection, or changes in body composition.

They did find that people who exercised more increased protein intake, which is positive, since an increase in daily physical activity requires a greater intake of protein, and these people would thus be helping to meet that requirement in a spontaneous way.

They also found that strength, aerobic exercise or a combination of both, do not cause a greater need for intake in people who are overweight, and that people who start a long-term exercise program do not increase their energy consumption in a compensatory way.

The Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Human Performance (CIPER) in Lisbon, the La Paz University Hospital Research Institute (IdiPAZ) and the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital in Santander also participated in the research, and the results of the work were published in the magazine Nutrients.

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