I’m sure you’ve heard and read many times before that exercise is not a good way to lose weight, yet diet combined with exercise is always the best way to lose weight. It’s definitely possible to eat too much and counter the benefits of exercise, but an interesting new study shows how exercise suppresses appetite and boosts metabolism for up to two days afterwards.
The study out of UT Southwestern Medical Center looked at how short and long-term exercise effected the central melanocortin pathway in mice. This system is present in all mammals (including humans), and a great deal of research has already been done on the melanocortin neurons in the brain because dysfunction in this region is common in obesity. In particular, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center looked at proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons, which lowers appetite and blood glucose levels and increases metabolism when activated, as well as neuropeptide Y/agouti-related peptide (NPY/AgRP), which increases appetite and lowers metabolism when activated.
The researchers found that a single workout consisting of three 20-minute treadmill sessions boosted POMC activation and suppressed NPY/AgRP for up to two days. They specifically found this resulted in a decrease in appetite for up to 6 hours afterwards. Long-term exercise resulted in continuous activation of POMC neurons which significantly improved blood glucose levels.
Make it easier on yourself
People constantly ask me for ways (usually supplements) to boost their metabolism or suppress their appetites. HIIT workouts have been shown to suppress appetite, but this demonstrates how less intense training can do the same (and for days afterwards). Dysfunction in the the central melanocortin pathway is an example of what I always refer to with getting your chemistry to work for you instead of against you. It only takes a little bit of activity to reprogram your metabolic regulators and make the rest of your efforts much easier.