Causes of Hunger After Exercise and Tips for Overcoming It

A hunger that appears after strenuous activities including sports is the body’s reaction to restore energy and return to its original condition. In other people, this condition can also be caused by excessive exercise.

While it’s normal to feel hungry after a workout, it can cause discomfort or even interfere with your exercise routine. What are the causes and how to treat this condition?

Causes of feeling hungry after exercise

Hunger after exercise occurs because the human body is programmed to survive. As energy reserves decrease, the body will automatically realize that you need more food.

Launching the American Council on Exercise, below are some reasons why you may feel hungry after a workout.

1. Exercise increases appetite

Exercise increases appetite

When you are physically active, your body will burn a lot of energy from carbohydrates and fats. Your body then responds to this condition in many ways, including increasing your appetite to get your energy supply back.

Each type of sport can have a different effect. However, a number of studies summarized in the journal Nutrients show that hunger generally appears after you do aerobic exercise.

2. Decreased glycogen stores

The food you eat will increase your blood sugar levels. The pancreas then responds to rising blood sugar by producing insulin. Insulin converts excess sugar into energy reserves in the form of glycogen so that blood sugar decreases.

When the main energy source in the form of sugar is depleted, the body will convert glycogen into sugar (glucose) which is ready to be used. As soon as glycogen stores are depleted, the body no longer has food reserves, resulting in hunger after activities.

3. Dehydration

Fervorthat appears after exercise is sometimes not caused by lack of food, but mild dehydration. Dehydration is a natural condition for people who don’t drink enough during exercise so that their body lacks fluids.


Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. Not infrequently, this condition also causes a rumbling stomach which is often mistaken for hunger.

4. Not eating enough before exercise

Not a few who avoid eating before exercise for fear that the stomach will feel full. In fact, food intake with balanced nutrition will give you the energy to exercise and do activities throughout the day.

Lack of energy intake before strenuous activity can actually cause a protracted feeling of hunger. The stomach is not bloated, but you find it difficult to focus when exercising because of the annoying hunger.

How to deal with hunger after exercise

Hunger is one thing that often interferes with your exercise routine. Fortunately, there are a few ways that can help you deal with this. Here are some of them.

1. Pay attention to mealtimes

Time to eat affects the performance and recovery of the body. According to experts, the best time to eat is 30-60 minutes before starting to exercise. This way, you will get energy without making your stomach feel uncomfortable.

Pay attention to mealtimes

If you exercise regularly in the morning, prepare a meal that is not too heavy so you can have breakfast before exercising. If necessary, adjust the portions of breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that you can eat before your workout comfortably.

2. Choose the right food composition

To fight post-workout hunger pangs, make sure you eat the right amount of carbohydrates and protein. If you are doing aerobic exercise, a daily source of carbohydrates and protein is usually sufficient to restore energy.

On the other hand, high-intensity exercise usually consumes a lot of energy stores so you should eat more carbohydrates. Meanwhile, weight training tends to force the muscles to work so you need high protein foods.

3. Apply “ mindful eating ”

Mindful eating is a way of eating with full awareness of the food, the purpose of eating, and the moment when you eat. In other words, you focus on eating without doing other activities such as playing on your phone, working, etc.

By implementing mindful eating, you can enjoy food more and feel satisfied because of it. As a result, the feeling of fullness also lasts longer and you avoid the hunger that often appears after exercise.

4. Drink enough water

Many people don’t drink enough water before, during, and after exercise. In fact, it is a common cause of dehydration and hunger. Do not wait for thirst to appear because this condition actually indicates that you are already dehydrated.

Drink enough water

The American Council on Exercise provides recommendations for drinking during exercise that you can follow. Apply this habit every time you exercise so that your fluid needs are met and you avoid the risk of dehydration.

5. Eat more snacks

Healthy snack rations divided periodically throughout the day can help you combat post-workout hunger pangs. In addition, snacks also help reduce hunger between meals, increase energy, and maintain metabolism.

The best time to have a snack is 60 minutes before you start exercising. Choose healthy snacks that are dense in energy and nutrients, especially carbohydrates and protein. Examples of snacks that you can consume are:

1. bananas, apples, or other fresh fruit,
2. fruit smoothies,
3. yogurt,
4. low-fat energy bars or granola bars,
5. peanut butter sandwich, or
6. sports drink.

It’s normal to feel hungry after exercise. However, this condition can also be a sign that something is wrong with your eating and drinking settings while exercising.

To overcome this, pay attention to mealtimes, meal portions, and the composition of your food. Also, apply mindful eating so that you enjoy food more and feel full. Do not forget to complete with adequate fluid intake.

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