Before, during, and three hours afterwards, the researchers took blood tests to look for changes in hormones related to appetite and asked people how hungry they felt. They can also be served at an open lunch buffet with lasagna, salad, rolls, lemonade and pancakes with strawberries, while discreetly monitoring how much food people are consuming.
Then the researchers compared hormones, hunger, and actual food and found strange interruptions. In general, people’s hormones changed after each workout in a way that could be expected to reduce their appetite. But study participants did not say they felt less hungry after exercising – nor did they say they felt more hungry – than when they sat. And at lunch they ate about the same amount, about 950 calories from lasagna and the other buffet dishes, whether they worked out or not.
The result of these results suggests that at least brisk walking or light weight lifting may not affect our later eating as much as “other factors” such as the aroma and overflowing flavors of lasagna (or buttered rolls or cakes). said Tanya Halliday, assistant professor of health and kinesiology at the University of Utah who led the new study. People’s appetite hormones may have decreased a bit after exercising, but these drops didn’t have a big impact on how much they ate afterwards.
Even so, the workout burned some calories, she said – about 300 or so per session. That was less than the nearly 1,000 calories the volunteers ate on average at lunch, but hundreds more than when they were sitting. Over time, that difference could help with weight management, she said.
Of course, the study has obvious limitations. It was a single session of moderate, short exercises by a few dozen participants who were out of shape. People who exercise regularly or do more strenuous workouts may react differently. Researchers need to do more studies, including those with more diverse groups and those that take place over a longer period of time.
But even now, the results have a gentle, apple pie-like appeal. They suggest that “people shouldn’t be afraid that when they exercise they will overeat,” said Dr. Halliday. And she said, “Thanksgiving is only a day,” and it won’t affect your weight in the long run. So eat what you want at the feast and enjoy it. Dr. Halliday also recommended going for a walk or turkey rut with your family and friends beforehand, if you can – not to dampen your appetite, but to strengthen your social bonds and be grateful for moving forward together.