One of our Weighless Community members recently emailed with a dilemma:
I recently started hiking 5-10 mi a day and I am now ravenous all the time. I eat my usual sized meal and I’m still hungry…or I’m hungry again 30 minutes later. I have upped my calories a bit, but that didn’t seem help. I also tried eating more frequently. No luck there either.
Eventually, my body acclimates, but if I increase my speed or add more miles, it starts over again. Is there a way to control this? I was hoping to lose 5-10 lbs, not gain it!
In fact, there are some strategies for dealing with this. But first, I needed to know what KC’s motivation was for continuing to increase the intensity and duration of her hikes. It’s usually one of three things.
Exercising to lose weight
If you’re exercising more in order to burn more calories in order to lose weight, then you may be shooting yourself in the foot.
Exercise can stimulate the release of hormones that increase appetite. This is your body’s well-meaning (but perhaps unhelpful) attempt to replace those lost calories. And moderate intensity, long duration activities like hiking, cycling, and jogging are the ones most likely to have this effect. (Consuming a lot of gels and goos during your workout can make it worse).
Exercise has so many benefits–and we want you to enjoy them all! But as a calorie burning strategy, it often backfires. You log more minutes on the treadmill in order to burn more calories but then end up hungrier as a result. And this is why, in the Weighless program, we don’t encourage exercising in order to burn calories or lose weight. (More about that here.)
Exercising to get fit
If the goal is simply to get fitter (which we certainly DO encourage!), you might want to opt for shorter, higher intensity workouts or interval training. These (when combined with a generally active lifestyle) can get you fit a lot faster. And they are also less likely to stimulate the appetite to the same degree.
Training for a challenge
Now, as it turns out, KC was not hiking in order to burn calories or simply to get fit. She wanted to get to the top of a certain mountain. Just for the satisfaction of meeting the challenge (and, of course, enjoying the view). This is an awesome reason to train! But in that case, part of the challenge will be figuring out how to manage the impact of endurance training your appetite without overeating.
We tackled that question on this episode of the Nutrition Diva podcast. But in the meantime, we’d like to hear from you! What is YOUR motivation for the various types of exercise you do? Are you exercising to get fit? Training for a challenge? Or in an attempt to manage your weight?