If you think exercising makes you eat more then read this new study! Turns out, that the biggest contributor to hunger is sitting still! So for all those people NOT exercising so they can keep their calorie intake lower; you might need a new execuse!
In a study, billed as ‘the first to examine whether too much sitting alters our perception of hunger’, the U.S. researchers monitored the appetite of young men and women asked to be active or inactive for a day at a time.
During active days, the volunteers spent 12 hours on the go. Although they did not take part in any sports, they walked and did housework and could only sit down for ten minutes in every hour.
During the ‘lazy’ days, they spent their time sitting down, watching videos and playing on computers.
If they wanted to go somewhere, they were pushed there in a wheelchair.
The researchers, from Massachusetts and Missouri Universities, counted the calories eaten by the men and women, who were all fit and lean.
The next morning, they were given breakfast and asked how hungry they were before and after the meal. Surprisingly, the couch potatoes felt the hungriest, an American Physiological Society conference heard.
They felt up to 17 per cent hungrier before eating and did not feel as full as the others afterwards.
The researchers said that although the results were preliminary, they suggested that exercise blunts appetite, while sitting still boosts it.
They are carrying out experiments to find out whether sitting around changes levels of hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and satiety.
In a warning to couch potatoes everywhere, Dr Barry Braun, of the University of Massachusetts, said: ‘In addition to reducing energy output, sitting for long periods may increase the perception of hunger.
‘If you are sitting on the couch or at your desk, not only are you not burning calories, it may cause you to want more of them.’
Dr Mike Green, a British expert on the psychology of eating behaviour, said the results were counter-intuitive.
He said that while boredom could induce hunger pangs in couch potatoes, being active burns off calories, raising the need for food.
In addition, the sights and smells we encounter while out and about stimulate appetite.
Dr Green, of Birmingham’s Aston University, said: ‘To some extent, everyone’s experience of hunger and fullness is reliant on the number of food-related experiences you have during the course of the day.
‘You walk past a bakery and smell baking bread and all of a sudden you feel hungry.
‘If you are a fairly active person, walking around having a lot of different experiences, going to different places, you should have greater hunger levels than someone who is more sedentary (source).’
In the past, science has proven that when you workout you increase the amount of seritonin released in your brain. Seritonin is responsible for a lot of functions in your body including regulating your moods. It also can affect you hunger levels. So if you’re having a “down” day then taking a walk or going to the gym can make all the difference.