Work out more, eat fewer calories—the magic “get healthy” formula. It’s hard to find the perfect balance, but the good news is that intense workouts may be able to help you eat less. While most assume that vigorous exercise will drive them to eat even more, studies have shown that physical activity can suppress your hunger, making the “work out more, eat less” formula a little easier to implement.

Exercise and appetite

Two studies, one completed by researchers at University of Western Australia in Perth and published in the International Journal of Obesity and another published in PLOS one, examined the effects of exercise on appetite. Researchers measured participants’ appetites after being sedentary, after doing low-impact exercise, and after high-impact exercise. While you’d think that after 30 minutes of maximum exertion participants would be ready to eat an entire buffet, instead their appetites were decreased compared to when they had been sedentary. Those in both of the studies ate less on days when they engaged in intense exercise compared with days when they didn’t exercise or only engaged in only casual exercise. The study from the University of Western Australia also tested the volunteers’ blood before and after working out and found lowered levels of the hormone ghrelin, a known appetite stimulator.

Test it out

Try doing your workout routine an hour or two before you usually eat your biggest meal. If you usually find yourself indulging in a huge dinner, fit your exercise in after work and before eating. Diving too quickly into the kind of intense exercise that will help decrease your appetite will only leave you feeling sore and discouraged. Work your way up to more intense workouts. You can try a couch to 5k program to start running, a YouTube HITT workout, or a class at your local gym. Test it out for a few weeks and see if you notice any differences in your appetite. You might also see a few pounds disappear when you jump on the scale!

How does exercise affect your appetite? Share with the community in the comment section below.