Do Your Workouts Make You Hungry? They Shouldn’t!

Ever Get Unusually Hungry After A Workout?

I know you do, even if just occasionally, seems everyone does at some point and others seems to experience it regularly.

For most people, we have found that this sensation of hunger really isn’t the need for food, but rather a false hunger sensation created by the hormone cortisol, AND it can be prevented in most cases.

Every time we exercise we go through the process of burning more fuel to provide the energy we need for our workout and as we do we produce more waste by-products at the same time. This is completely normal and should be expected. Think of it like this; if you are heating your home with a wood burning stove and at night it gets colder than during the day you need to stoke that fire with more wood (fuel) to produce more heat (energy) to meet your needs. The more wood you burn the more ash and soot you produce, seems logical right? The same is true in your body when using extra fuel during workouts.

No matter which fuel you are burning during your workout, sugar or fat, your needs will go up and result in more metabolic ash being produced. One particularly ugly by-product of this process is the formation of free radicals that can oxidize your cells and cause cellular inflammation. This process starts INSIDE your cells and can spread to the outside and into your muscle or body tissues producing low grade systemic and local inflammation.

Inflammation can be a big problem since most people are swimming in it due to stress and other health and lifestyle issues. But it is completely natural and the body has it’s own answer to this problem, a natural anti-inflammatory that is released first inside your cells, then your body tissues, called cortisol or what people call the stress hormone. This low grade level of cortisol from exercise, is not enough to cause anxiety or bigger issues but can raise your over all cortisol exposure and when any insulin resistance is present, will gang up with the insulin and compound both issues.

When this happens, and it really doesn’t take a lot to do this, the low grade cortisol reaction can trigger false hunger. That hunger after you work out is really a low grade cortisol reaction, more like a mild anxiety sensation that is OFTEN interpreted as being hungry, and yes, even though it is not true hunger eating will resolve it, but handling false hunger with eating will make the whole issue worse and cause other problems over time.

What is the answer? An anti-inflammatory diet, extra anti-inflammatory supplements BEFORE you workout as well as upping your anti-oxidant nutrient intake. This will neutralize the free radical production from exercise as it happens and prevent the inflammation that stimulates the cortisol from occurring at the levels that can produce false hunger after working out.

So what does that really mean?

Here is what I do:

  1. Whole food, high fat, moderate protein, unlimited vegetable carb, LOW processed carb diet.
  2. One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of omega 3 fish oils, 1 hour (if possible) before my workout. If it is an early workout, right before bed the night before.
  3. 800 mg of natural mixed vitamin E 1 hour (if possible) before my workout. If it is an early workout, right before bed the night before.
  4. 300 mg of buffered vitamin C in water with
  5. 150 mg of magnesium before the workout and sipped during if desired.

Reducing overall cortisol exposure by true stress resilience efforts, proper sleep, reduced toxin exposure, and convert over from being a chronic sugar burner to an efficient fat burner will all help in your efforts as well. Not just for false hunger after workouts, but post workout soreness, and over-all health, healing, and anti-aging efforts.

Hunger in general is a rather aberrant sensation when you have a healthy lifestyle, but especially after a workout. Don’t be fooled by this false hunger and make the mistake of feeding it with some post-workout shake, meal, or snack when you don’t need it.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!

Dr. Don

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