Have you ever had a good workout and realized that you wanted nothing but healthy food to eat after? Well, believe it or not, there may be a scientific basis to this!

In the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers set out to determine the effects of exercise on nerve responses to images of food. Specifically, because many benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are being realized, researchers were most interested in how study subjects would react to images of or certain foods after a workout.

In this study, 15 lean healthy men completed two 60-minute HIIT workouts. After each trial, functional MRI (a fancy machine used to measure brain activity) was used to assess activity of the brain’s reward areas after high- and low-calorie foods were viewed.

What was the result?

HIIT reduced the post-exercise appetite in subjects while increasing thirst and core body temperature. In addition,  HIIT suppressed gherelin (the appetite hormone). As far as nerve responses, HIIT increased activation of reward centers of the brain when low-calorie images were viewed. When high-calorie images were viewed, reward centers were suppressed.

While this study is small, it has the potential to be fairly significant. It is well accepted among the fitness community that exercise can cause many to increase caloric intake. With this new evidence that HIIT decreases appetite and may cause a preference towards lower-calorie foods, attitudes towards exercise increasing caloric intake may change. It may in fact be the type of exercise that is important. From this study,  HIIT can even alter your appetite and food choices for the better.

HIIT has many, many health benefits from increasing both aerobic and anaerobic endurance to burning fat best. It is also a time-saving method of exercise that can be fit into your busy day.

Learn more about HIIT and how you can fit it into your weekly workout schedule.