Of the various hormones in the human body, there are two hormones whose primary responsibility is regulating hunger, these are:
- Ghrelin – Which signals that you’re hungry
- Leptin – Which signals that you’re full
Some people are hungry after a workout while some are not. Typically, hunger won’t kick in until a few hours or so but there are several factors that can cause hunger in these situations. Here are some reasons why you’re hungry and how it can be fixed.
Not eating enough before workout
It’s common for some individuals to fast before a workout in order to achieve weight loss. However, by going this route, one is could end up going a good number of hours without any fuel. As a result, one is going to experience mild to severe hunger after workout.
Fix this by fueling with a small high energy snack or combine with protein depending on your goal.
Some ideas include:
- Apple sauce
- Energy gel
- Piece of fruit
- Energy chews
- Carb + protein (liquid)
Not drinking enough fluids
Staying hydrated is imperative for performance but many don’t hydrate properly. At times, one may feel hungry but it can be mistaken for thirst, so don’t be afraid to drink a cup of water. During more intense workouts or workouts lasting longer than 1 hour, a sports drink is suggested. Coming into a workout dehydrated or relatively close to it, ghrelin will kick in telling you that you’re hungry during and/or after workout.
- Weigh yourself before and after workouts – For every 1lb lost, drink 16-24 oz. of water.
Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
EPOC is the oxygen uptake above resting values used to restore the body to the pre-exercise condition. Some of the elements during EPOC are the re-synthesis of ATP, glycogen, protein and restoration of oxygen levels. These elements are refueled from nutrition. After workouts, our energy substrates are low which causes a need for refuel leading to hunger.
Baechle Thomas R., Earle Roger W., Essentials of strength and conditioning, National Strength and Conditioning Association; Third edition.
By Jesse Rodriguez
Jesse is a nutritional science major with an emphasis in sports nutrition. Jesse swam for the El Salvador national team and competed at the international level. Jesse is currently working towards a CSCS and registered dietitian license. He currently works at UCLA as a sports nutrition intern assisting both dietitians with meal plans, body composition, and education materials. Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.