The ‘Anti-Hunger’ Molecule: How Physical Activity Regulates Appetite, and What You Can Do to Exercise Better

Although exercise is known to burn calories and control glucose, researchers have found another way that it may contribute to weight loss. Recently, scientists from Stanford Medicine, Baylor University, and several other institutions discovered an 'anti-hunger' molecule. This compound is a hybrid of naturally-occurring acids in the body called lactate and phenylalanine, nicknamed lac-phe by researchers. After an intense workout, your body produces this amino acid. In turn, lac-phe reduces your appetite — so when you don't feel like eating after exercising, you have this molecule to thank.

When sustained in the long-term, lac-phe production triggered by physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity. But to reap the benefits of this anti-hunger molecule, you’ll need to exercise consistently. Here are some ways you can do just that.


Set achievable goals 

One of the biggest pitfalls to exercise is inconsistency. Once you start making excuses to skip workouts on certain days or under certain conditions, you are less motivated to keep up with regular exercise. One proven way to achieve natural weight loss and maintain consistency in your efforts is by setting specific goals. It isn't wise to set a weight target - your body may work against you and demotivate you in your quest. That's because of set point weight, a theory that your body has a preferred weight and will fight hard to maintain that weight once you hit it. Everyone's set point weight is different, so you may set a goal with a friend that they reach, but you struggle to achieve it.

Instead, set exercise goals or shape goals. For instance, you could target walking or running for 15 minutes a day instead of working out for 2 hours every other day. As your body adjusts, you can gradually increase to greater frequencies for longer periods, helping you overcome the pressure associated with working out and sustaining exercise long-term. You might avoid the scales altogether and pick a tight pair of jeans you wish to fit more comfortably into. A 2016 study cited by registered dietitian Angela Goscilo shows that those who set achievable goals for weight loss were more likely to achieve a 10% reduction in their weight after a year, so you should definitely try this tip out and get yourself moving.


Pick a workout you enjoy

Although there are benefits to intense cardio or heavy lifting, you don't need to restrict yourself to those exercises. Choosing a workout you personally enjoy is much more important than following the regimes others swear by. If you enjoy swimming, dancing, or boxing more, pursuing them as hobbies can motivate you to move continuously. Even if you lack cardio or strength training, you can complement your favored activities with other exercises. For instance, if you enjoy biking, you can designate certain days in the week for short weight training sessions. This ensures that you build muscles as you burn calories. In the long run, this kind of holistic and enjoyable training for your body can help you maintain regular exercise schedules with ease.


Fuel your workout with the right nutrients

Though triggering lac-phe production by working out reduces your appetite, you still need to fuel said workouts with the proper nutrients. The best nutrients for a physically active life include carbohydrates for energy, fiber to help you feel full longer, and protein to replenish your muscles. As such, you can eat foods like bananas or whole-grain cereals to fuel your workouts. Afterward, have grilled chicken or black bean burgers to help repair muscles and generate new blood cells. Lastly, build your meals around fruits or vegetables: the fiber in these foods keeps you full for longer so that you fill your body with nutritious instead of unnecessary calories. By focusing on nutrition, you’ll exercise better while more effectively encouraging the regular production of lac-phe.

To fully reap the benefits of lac-phe, you need to exercise regularly. Try these tips to approach physical activities with ease and enthusiasm — and ultimately achieve healthy and long-term weight maintenance.

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