To successfully drop the pounds, you need to exercise wisely—and resist the urge to eat more just because you’re working out. People often overcompensate for exercise when they eat, says Mary Jane Detroyer, R.D., a dietitian and exercise physiologist in New York City. “They feel like they’ve earned a treat.” That can set the stage for overeating. The result: You may wind up taking in more calories than you burned.
To help yourself out, choose the right workout to help keep your hunger in check. According to new research published in the Journal of Endocrinology, turning up your exercise intensity or workout length may blunt your appetite. In two small experiments, researchers found that men who pushed themselves with a tough run had lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, than those who did a light or moderate jog.
How can you ramp up your routine? The following tweaks will help you make the most of your workout and rein in your hunger, so you can finally score serious results.
Tack on 10 percent. Each week, bump up your workout by 10 percent, Detroyer suggests. That may mean slightly increasing the intensity on the elliptical or running for a few extra minutes each run. When you do that, you’ll push yourself a little harder while letting your body build up strength and endurance, which can help prevent injury.
Make use of your downtime. Instead of scrolling through your feed between sets, get moving! Fitz Koehler, a fitness expert and founder of Fitzness.com, recommends turning that break into active rest by jogging in place, or doing jumping jacks or burpees. You’ll burn calories and strengthen your heart while bumping up your workout intensity.
Add intervals. During your next workout, keep your eyes on the clock. Detroyer suggests pushing yourself at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum effort for two to three minutes (you should be breathless), followed by the same amount of time of easy recovery. Not only can these intervals help you torch more calories, but they may also keep your appetite in check. One study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight men who did interval workouts consumed fewer calories over the next day and a half than those who hadn’t switched up their pace as they exercised.
Shake things up. We all have our tried-and-true workouts. But when you do the same exercise time and again, your body adapts, Koehler says. To challenge your muscles and kick-start your progress, try something new. Sign up for a new class at the gym or take your workout outside. Run on a trail, go out on your bike, or create your own circuit routine.
Find other great health and wellness stories at EatingWell.com/Strive.