Exercise may affect food motivation: study

September 12, 2012
BYU professors Michael Larson (left) James LeCheminant (right) measured neural responses to food after exercise. Credit: Mark Philbrick, BYU Photo

It is commonly assumed that you can "work up an appetite" with a vigorous workout. Turns out that theory may not be completely accurate – at least immediately following exercise.

New research out of BYU shows that 45 minutes of moderate-to- in the morning actually reduces a person's motivation for food.

Professors James LeCheminant and Michael Larson measured the of 35 women while they viewed food images, both following a morning of and a morning without exercise. They found their attentional response to the food pictures decreased after the brisk workout.

"This study provides evidence that exercise not only affects , but it also may affect how people respond to food cues," LeCheminant said.

The study, published online, ahead of print in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, measured the food motivation of 18 normal-weight women and 17 clinically obese women over two separate days.

A BYU student wears an EEG recording device to demonstrate how researchers measured neural responses to food after exercise. Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU Photo

On the first day, each woman briskly walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes and then, within the hour, had their brain waves measured. Electrodes were attached to each participant's scalp and an EEG machine then measured their neural activity while they looked at 240 images – 120 of plated food meals and 120 of flowers. (Flowers served as a control.)

The same experiment was conducted one week later on the same day of the week and at the same time of the morning, but omitted the exercise. Individuals also recorded their food consumption and physical activity on the experiment days.

The 45-minute exercise bout not only produced lower brain responses to the food images, but also resulted in an increase in total physical activity that day, regardless of body mass index.

"We wanted to see if obesity influenced food motivation, but it didn't," LeCheminant said. "However, it was clear that the exercise bout was playing a role in their neural responses to the pictures of food."

Interestingly, the women in the experiment did not eat more food on the exercise day to "make up" for the extra calories they burned in exercise. In fact, they ate approximately the same amount of food on the non-exercise day.

Larson said this is one of the first studies to look specifically at neurologically-determined food motivation in response to exercise and that researchers still need to determine how long the diminished food motivation lasts after exercise and to what extent it persists with consistent, long-term exercise.

"The subject of food and weight loss is so complex," Larson said. "There are many things that influence eating and exercise is just one element."

Bliss Hanlon, a former graduate student at BYU, was the lead author on the study and Bruce Bailey, an associate professor of exercise science, was a co-author on the study.

Explore further: Cyber partners help you go the distance

Related Stories

Cyber partners help you go the distance

May 16, 2012
A new study, testing the benefits of a virtual exercise partner, shows that the presence of a moderately more capable cycling partner boosts motivation to stick to an exercise program. The work by Brandon Irwin and colleagues, ...

Men and women respond differently to exercise advertisements

June 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new University of Michigan study finds that overweight men and women responded differently to advertisements about the benefits from exercise.

Cyber exercise partners help you go the distance: Motivation gains can double

May 24, 2012
A new study testing the benefits of a virtual exercise partner shows the presence of a moderately more capable cycling partner can significantly boost the motivation – by as much as 100 percent – to stick to an ...

Effects of exercise on meal-related gut hormone signals

July 12, 2011
Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that alterations ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.