Afterwards, all participants were offered all-you-can-eat pizza. Here’s the kicker: Those who were sedentary post-exam ate about 100 more calories than those who got their sweat on.
The study’s lead author, William H. Neumeier, Ph.D., says that these results are likely due to the fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin caused by sedentary mental work. “These fluctuations may be signaling to the brain that it needs more energy, so we eat more following a period of mental work,” says Neumeier. Exercise, on the other hand, provides energy to the brain in the form of glucose and lactate, he says.
Neumeier adds that exercise impacts hunger and satiety hormones, which can reduce appetite. Plus, working up a sweat might refresh you after a period of mental work, he says.
The study authors note that the research was performed using a relatively small group of college students and only utilized one test food. (And we all know how college students love pizza.) It’s possible that the results would have been different if there was a veggie tray and a pizza offered.
Nonetheless, add this to your list of reasons why you should hit the gym after work tonight. You’ll burn calories, feel less stressed, and eat less—triple score.