Exercise, or a more inclusive term, physical activity. But not because it burns calories. An under appreciated perk of physical activity in fat loss and weight control (or management, you choose) is its effect on our hunger cues.
Physical activity refines our hunger in two ways.
First, it can help us differentiate between a genuine hunger and fake hunger. Have you ever felt hungry, or had a cosmic craving for glazed donuts before a workout, but went ahead with training without eating?
Only to discover that as you started moving, the hunger or craving went away. Ding! A case of fake hunger. In contrast, those times you’ve started a session and felt like passing out or lethargic, it would’ve likely been a sad-face-case of genuine hunger.
Second, engaging in physical activity makes our bodies want real, nourishing, wholefoods. The body wants to replenish whatever it used with the stuff that is healthy for us. Instead of the sweet stuff we typically crave.
As long as we’re not on some super-strict, calorie-restricted diet. But then again, why would we ever?
Here’s a random third point that has nothing to do with hunger cues. Because I like to over-deliver and don’t believe in brevity in my current state of being. Physical activity helps us form our identity as a someone who looks after their health and wellbeing. And damn, whether we do it consciously, us humans like being consistent with our actions.
Meaning that our identity in training will often spill over to the rest of our day-to-day life. We’re more likely to make healthier decisions simply because it matches the narrative of how we see ourselves and how we want others seeing us: a fine individual who’s consistent with their actions.
And yeah, please forgive me for sounding somewhat Victorian food puritan earlier for using words like “nourishing” and “replenish”. But they got the point across. Right? But also, I won’t do it again.