Food Health — 06 June 2011
Hungry?  Really?

By Dorian Jones, Nutritionist
Special to Grouptrails

Have you ever completed a workout of cycling, running or aerobics only to find those meals eaten earlier in the day defeated your fitness goals? If your answer is yes, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Some people begin a regular exercise routine in order to lose weight. Others exercise to maintain a certain weight. Whatever the reason, the general consensus is that the harder the workout, the hungrier you feel.

Not so for men. Researchers suggest, men take in fewer calories as the intensity of their workout increases. But what about for women?

Researchers at the University of Ottawa have found some interesting information about female food consumption.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition monitored thirteen college-age women who ate a standard breakfast: whole-wheat bread, smooth peanut butter, strawberry jam, mozzarella cheese, and orange juice. The study was conducted in three sessions, on separate days.

Some of the participants received no exercise; some walked on a treadmill at a low intensity burning 350 calories; others walked on a treadmill at a high intensity burning 350 calories.
Following each session, a buffet lunch, snacks and a dinner was provided. The women were allowed to eat whatever they wanted and as much as they wanted. They were scored for hunger – feeling the need for food; the desire to eat – feeling hungry and actually eating to satisfy the hunger; and fullness as a measure of appetite. Calorie intake was also noted.

Reseachers found that participants took in an average of 295 more calories on high-intensity-exercise days compared to days that they did no exercise. In addition, neither the desire to eat, nor hunger or fullness were affected by either variable. This meant that whether the women had not exercised or had a major workout, their appetites did not change based on the level of intensity.

It is not surprising, however, that the time of day had an immense effect on appetite. The desire to eat, hunger, and fullness, either increased or decreased based on the time of day. Hunger, and the desire to eat peaked between noon and 12:30 PM, which is a common time for lunch. The next peak occurred around 5:30 PM-a time when many are thinking about eating dinner. Fullness for the participants was at its lowest at noon just before lunch; and also at 5:30 PM just before dinner.

According to research from the University of Ottawa, women who work a little harder are likely to increase their calorie intake over the course of the day, and their appetite increases or decreases based on the time of day, and probably when they last had a meal, not necessarily due to exercise intensity.

But those contemplating starting an exercise plan to burn calories and lose weight need not worry. Even though the calories taken in after the high-intensity workout replace the calories burned, exercising, and keeping the body fueled with breakfast and occasional snacks, increases the body’s metabolism – burning calories. And the body burns calories best after exercise. So eating a little more doesn’t defeat the goal of losing weight.

The most important thing to do, whether man or a woman, is to jump-start your metabolism. Eat a variety of healthy foods.

Take note of the times of day you feel hungry then eat a balanced meal or a nutritious snack. Just remember, if you eat healthy, your workout will work for you.

Dorian Jones, is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. She has a B.S. in biochemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and a M.S. in nutritional sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In her spare time Dorian enjoys writing about nutrition. She’s also known to hop on her TREK mountain bike and blaze a trail when she gets the chance. Ms.Jones welcomes your questions and comments.

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