More Intense Workouts May Help Reduce Hunger, Study Finds

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New research suggests that intense exercise can affect your appetite in unexpected ways. Richard Drury/Getty Images
  • A study revealed that intense exercise leads to the presence of greater levels of the Lac-Phe molecule in the blood.
  • Lac-Phe was linked to eating less food and losing body fat in mice.
  • Researchers say intense exercise can help suppress appetite and regulate body fat in humans.
  • Intense exercises are those that increase your heart rate and make you breathe hard.
  • It’s important to get your doctor’s approval and start slowly when beginning an exercise program.

Have you ever noticed that after some workouts you are completely starved, but after others you have no interest in food?

It turns out there may be a physiological reason for this, related to how different types of exercise affect the production of chemicals in your body. And, the researchers say the post-exercise appetite suppression may be due to a particular molecule they dubbed “Lac-Phe.”

However, it is not just any type of exercise that triggers the production of this molecule the most. More intense workouts were linked to higher amounts of Lac-Phe in the blood, while easier workouts were associated with lower amounts of the substance.

This finding led the team to speculate that increased production of Lac-Phe during more vigorous exercise could suppress appetite and thus lead to a reduction in excess body fat.

Dr. Melissa M. Markofski, assistant professor, Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston, who was not involved in the study, explained: “When we train at a high enough intensity, there is an increase substantial lactate. This lactate is metabolized (broken down) by the body and products (commonly called metabolites) of lactate are formed. One of these products (metabolites) is Lac-Phe.

In this particular studythe researchers found that this molecule was present in higher amounts in the blood of mice, racehorses and humans after exercise, Markofski said.

Moreover, when they injected Lac-Phe into obese mice that did not exercise, these mice ate less and lost body fat compared to obese mice that did not receive the injection or those who were already skinny.

“This led the researchers to conclude that one of the benefits of exercise may be an increase in Lac-Phe and appetite suppression, leading to a reduction in excess body fat,” he said. she stated.

These results are “potentially remarkable,” according to Markofski, since the study identified a metabolite that may be important in regulating body weight. It also indicates what type of exercise can lead to the greatest production of Lac-Phe.

Makofsky noted that of the exercise types included in the study, the greatest increase in Lac-Phe was observed during a session of full-throttle sprints on a stationary bike. The second highest occurred after moderate-intensity weightlifting. The lowest concentration was found after a 90 minute ride on a stationary bike.

“This indicates that high-intensity exercise — such as cycling, running, swimming, weightlifting — will cause the greatest increase in Lac-Phe,” she said.

“These results are important because we know that some of the benefits of exercise include helping people maintain their body weight, particularly by minimizing body fat gains.”

She cautions, however, that the effects on human appetite have not been studied, so it remains to be seen whether Lac-Phe will cause fat loss as it appeared to do in mice.

If you are looking to get slimmer, Sandra Arevalo, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that based on the results of this study, you will need to exercise more intensely. This is the level required to release more Lac-Phe, which could potentially control hunger.

“Intense exercises are the ones that make you breathe harder, sweat and increase your pulse,” she noted.

Markofsky further described high-intensity exercises as where you can’t carry on a conversation.

“The person exercising can only speak in short sentences or words,” she explained.

Arévalo cited running, fast cycling, dancing to fast beats like salsa or reggaeton, fast swimming, and weight-bearing exercises as good examples of intense exercise.

However, it is important to practice these activities safely.

“Before starting any exercise routine, it’s best to consult your doctor for clearance,” Arévalo advised.

“If you’ve never exercised before or are a beginner, it’s best to start slowly, always combining cardio and strength training.”

Arévalo further suggested making sure you take rest days between workouts to give your body a chance to recover.

“When you start to feel comfortable with your routine, or don’t feel as challenged anymore, increase your routine in moderation and as tolerated,” she says.

Finally, having a physical trainer to guide you is always a good idea, according to Arévalo.

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