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Can High Intensity Interval Training Help Suppress Appetite?

Published on September 18, 2013,

Most people would agree that exercise is generally a good thing but whether it actually helps weight loss is much less clear. Once reason is that exercising makes people feel hungrier and this in turn can make them eat more. However, new research discussed by Dr Briffa suggests one form of exercise – HIIT – might have the opposite effect and actually suppress the appetite. This is from Dr Briffa…

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The heightened hunger that can come as a result of exercise does not happen to everyone, but my experience tells me it tends to be more common in individuals who engage in relatively prolonged exercise such as extended running or cycling. In my book Escape the Diet Trap I made the observation that ‘high intensity intermittent exercise’ (short, intense bursts of activity interspersed with longer periods of rest) tended not to make people hungrier.

Now, recently, a study was published which lends at least some support to these observations.

In this research, overweight, sedentary men were (at different times) subjected each of the following conditions:

1. continuous exercise at 60 per cent of maximum oxygen utilisation (VO2 max) for 30 minutes

2. 1 minute at 100 per cent VO2 max alternating with 4 minutes of 50 per cent VO2 max, repeated for a total exercise time of 30 minutes

3. 15 seconds of exercise at 170 per cent VO2 max alternating with 60 seconds at 32 per cent VO2 max for a total of 30 minutes

4. Rest (no exercise) for 30 minutes

After each condition, the men were fed a meal with a set number of calories. 70 minutes later, they were given access to food that they could eat freely. Food intake and activity levels were monitored on the day of each experiment and the following day (a total of 38 hours).

Interestingly, the intakes of the test meal 70 minutes after conditions 2 and 3 were lower than that when no exercise was taken (condition 4).

Also, energy intake over 38 was lower after condition 3 than after conditions 1 and 4.

Interestingly, I think, after condition 4, levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin were lower, and blood sugar levels higher, than after the other conditions. Levels of lactate were also higher, and there is some evidence that lactate suppresses appetite [2].

This study was short, in that each condition was only tested once. However, there is at least some evidence here to support the idea that high-intensity exercise not only may not stimulate the appetite, but might even suppress it.

More (including references for the research) at:  Evidence suggests one form of exercise might actually suppress appetite

Some Tips on How to Stop Feeling Hungry When Dieting from Lean Ape

Published on April 11, 2013,

British couple Dave Turner and Alexis Watkins are behind the low carb health, exercise and lifestyle website Lean Ape and authors of the book “Lean Ape Living”. They are also fans of intermittent fasting. In a recent blog post they give some top tips on how to stop feeling hungry when you are on a diet. Here is an extract from Lean Ape…

Filling Foods

The best advice I can give is to eat foods that fill you up, and keep you feeling full for as long as possible. It is why eating relatively low carb for a number of days a week can be a real eye-opener for a lot of people.

Skipping breakfast can actually mean you are less huungry than if you have bowl of cereal. Many people find that the low after the initial carb rush of a carb based breakfast makes them a lot hungrier than if they had just skipped the meal completely.

But for the rest of the day then protein rich meals can go a really long way to ensuring that the hunger monster is kept at bay. But it is not just protein that is going to satisfy hunger pangs far more readily than many carbohydrate sources, we mustn’t forget the fats. Many people freak out about fat, it’s one of the many scare tactics the food industry seems to have indoctrinated us with. When the reality is that fats from animals can go a long way to improving our diet, helping with weight loss, and stopping us raiding the snack cupboard. If simply eaten in a sensible way.

Fats are filling, provide a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy and actually burning away our own body fat, and they taste damn good too.

A successful diet is always going to be one that allows us to enjoy our foods. Keeping fat intake up (especially on non-training days) is going to keep your body in good condition, aid with fat loss, allow you to enjoy what you eat, and also stop you feeling hungry.

Choose nutrient dense foods that are filling when dieting and hunger will basically not be an issue. Rather than anything processed always go for natural soruces of food that make you feel full. It makes all the difference in the world.

Ditch Processed Foods

I think we all know by now that many processed foods contain all manner of ingredients designed to keep us coming back for more. Foods high in sugar basically send messages to the brain that negate the feeling of being full. It is why so many carb based foods (especially simple sugars) should be severely limited if weight loss is the goal.

We don’t want to eat a large meal only to feel hungry again in an hour or two. And processed foods are basically going to do exactly that. Keep them to an absolute minimum, and avoid sugars, and you will notice a marked improvement in your eneregy levels. Plus a significant decrease in feeling hungry relatively soon after eating even a quite large meal.

Empty Cupboards

And this brings us onto one of the simplest ways to stop feeling starving on a diet.

Pay careful attention to exactly what you have in your home when it comes to food. Some people simply obsess about food if they know it is in the house. It is one thing knowing the local supermarket has an aisle of biscuits, it is quite another knowing that you have a cupboard full of hobnobs and the like.

The more you think about food the hungrier you get, and knowing that you have certain foods in the home will make you hungry. Just thinking about a sugary snack is enough to get the brain going into overdrive sending hunger signals for some people. You activate your appetite by thinking about certain foods more than others, and fast acting carbs and sugary foods really will make you feel hungrier.

If you eliminate such temptations from your kitchen then you think about them less, certainly can’t go and nab a sneaky piece of pie, and you will not get as many hunger pangs as if they are simply not an option.

Limit Cardio

Steady state cardio is going to burn minimal calories unless you feel like spending hours a day at it. So the best advice is to simply limit it unless you absolutely love it. Short bursts of HIIT are going to give you more bang for your buck when it comes to weight loss and is a lot less boring too!

Sustained exercise such as jogging and elliptical trainers etc. are simply going to make you hungry. You then have the battle of fighting off extra hunger pangs because of the exercise you did. Better to not put yourself in that situation at all. Work out with weights instead. Build some muscle and help your fat loss goals at the same time.

Drink Lots of Water

You need to fill up that belly, and drinking a lot of water can help to keep the hunger monster at bay. Water is good for you, flushes out the toxins, helps to get rid of that empty feeling, and takes your mind off things too.

See Dave and Alexis’s full article and information about their book at: Hungry When Losing Weight? Here is How to Stop Feeling Hungry When Dieting

Success: Dez’s Low Carb Story So Far – Down 44lbs in 3 Months

Published on January 5, 2013,

Dez has been in touch to let us know how he has been getting on with his low carb diet which he and his partner Megan started a few months ago.  The bottom line is that he has lost 44lbs in three months and is looking and feeling a lot better. He says this is no longer a diet and instead is a lifestyle. Dez and Megan did a lot of research on low carb diets before starting and he has shared a lot of what he has learnt on his blog Here’s an extract…

Dez's weight loss - updated at

Dez’s weight loss – updated at

Getting Started

Megan’s Mom (Linda) is really the one we thank for all of this. She’s the one that got preachy at Megan to change her eating habits. Linda originally heard about low-carb high fat diet eight years ago. She was extremely successful and lost 75 pounds in a year. But due to the lack of a support system and readily available knowledge (aka the Internet); once she reached a weight that she was happy with she introduced carbohydrates back into her diet. Within a year she put on all the weight she had lost.

Fast forward 5 years to late summer 2011 she was disappointed in herself for not being healthy and was asked by a friend if she wanted to do Atkins. After some self-reflection and research she started it again. 14 months later she’s back to a weight she hasn’t seen since 1974 (before her first pregnancy).

It’s no longer a diet for her. It’s a lifestyle.

Changing Our Minds

Megan and I had been half listening to Linda talk about low carb for the entire time she’s been on it and she’s talked about how good she feels while on it. But it wasn’t until we watched “Fat Head” that the idea of low carb started resonating.

Keep in mind, we’ve been gluten free since October (Megan since September) and we’d already dealt with the cravings for anything that has gluten in it (bread and pretty much anything in the middle aisles of the grocery store). Megan now had to deal with her sugar addiction head on… and I needed to stop eating rice.


The food in here will only last a week. This is the view the night of a grocery trip.

Our grocery list has gone from a list of highly processed foods to pretty much 100% whole foods. A quick scan of our grocery list reveals that the only real processed foods that we buy is stevia (for fat bombs) and our salad dressing. Everything else has a single ingredient listed. Gone are the apples, carrots, and all the other root vegetables. Hello bacon, 75/25 ground beef, pork chops, whole chickens, cooking in bacon grease, fried eggs, sautéed everything, and anything else that you’re not supposed to eat a lot/any of on the standard low fat diets.

The net effect of it so far is 40 pounds lost since October 2012 for me (11% body weight) and 24 pounds lost since switching to low carb.

There are three major switches that have happened besides going low carb. The first switch was the amount of food I eat. I’m now happy with how much I eat and rarely snack between meals. Breakfasts has gone from a few butter-fried salted eggs with cheese, low-sodium V8, toast & butter, and a glass of milk to a few bacon-grease fried eggs with cheese with sautéed spinach & kale.

Previously if I ate breakfast at 7:30 I would be hungry by 10 and raid the candy drawer at work or eat whatever someone brought in (can you say bagels?). Now I sometimes coast through lunch not even realizing that noon has come and gone. If it wasn’t for eating at home everyday for lunch I’d probably skip it more often.

This is a very important point. I need to remind myself to eat lunch. I’ve never had that problem before and now it’s a completely new problem. If I skip lunch I’ll know it later because I’m ravenous due to the limited amount of calories that I’ve had during the day. The biggest difference between then and now for me is that my stomach doesn’t feel hungry like it used to. It’s a different kind of hunger; more like a gentle reminder that can’t be ignored instead of the “I’m going to die if I don’t get a whole pizza” type of hunger.

I can now taste the salt in my food. I wasn’t salting anything more than before, but now I noticed it and have since switched to not salting my food at all (since salt is found naturally in everything I’m eating).

The last switch was my craving for water. I don’t keep track of how much I drink, but I can pinpoint the days on my weight loss chart where I haven’t drank enough water the day before (hint: It’s that days that slightly uptick). As was evidenced by my recent uptick on the two days before Christmas. We had family events and I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t eat more food on those days, I just didn’t have my normal level of water.

Read Jez’s full story and keep up with his progress at:  Low Carb – High Fat (LCHF) Lifestyle and My Family

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