Physical Activity Is Your Best Ally in Overcoming Cravings
We all know by now that we need to combine physical activity with a balanced diet in order to reach our desired BMI. And that’s great on paper, but, in reality, persistence in exercise and a balanced diet is not so easy to execute. The number one enemy of a balanced diet is – a craving. Luckily, nature has given us the gift of hormones that work together. This means by staying persistent in your exercise and making your brain secretes certain chemicals, you can battle your number one enemy. Here’s why physical activity is your best ally in overcoming cravings.
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Excessive intake of Processed Foods: the Root cause
Let’s start from the beginning. Most of us are aware that consuming excessive amounts of sugary foods and drinks is unhealthy. These highly processed meals contribute to obesity since they are rich in calories and lack nutritional value. They also make your everyday wellness quite difficult to maintain. But it’s so difficult to say no to them!
The Food you Crave is Designed to Trick your Brain
These ultra-processed snacks are created to be as delicious and satisfying as humanly possible. Brain areas involved in reward processing become more active when we are exposed to media commercials or real food products. When a certain area of the brain (a dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) is active, we feel compelled to eat even when we aren’t hungry because of the pleasure we get from doing so.
To restrict our intake of highly processed meals, a part of our prefrontal cortex decreases activity in reward areas of the brain. In the process, it reduces food cravings and kickstarts the cognitive processes required to exercise willpower over food selection.
Your Craving is a part of the brain reward system
When the activity in the prefrontal area increases, it helps us regulate our food cravings and choose healthier food choices by reducing activity in the brain’s reward areas. On the other hand, when it’s low, people are less able to resist the allure of unhealthy snack items and end up eating more of them. That’s the physiology of cravings you need to pay attention to.
Also, since we’re at the reward system, this is extremely important for battling addictions. The root of many addictions is precisely in this part of the brain. So, experts specialized in addiction therapy often say that, when it comes to physical activity and recovery, the upsides are many, and you should definitely take advantage of them.
You can reduce stress via Exercise
You may have noticed that you have more cravings when you’re stressed out. The stress hormone cortisol prompts the body to prepare for either an immediate physical confrontation or an immediate escape. A rise in cortisol causes the brain to believe it needs more fuel, leading to an increase in the desire for highly processed, high-sugar, or high-salt meals.
Lower your cortisol in the gym
You can lower the stress hormone cortisol and measure how stressed you feel via regular exercise or even just one workout. Additionally, persons who engage in regular physical activity are less likely to turn to alcoholic beverages or junk food when under duress.
External factors only add to the cravings when you’re under pressure
Stress can hamper the brain’s ability to operate. Seeing images of food increases activity in the brain’s reward system while decreasing activity in the prefrontal cortex, according to studies. This makes it more difficult to say “no” to delicious-looking junk foods.
Working out helps you stick to your healthy eating or junk food reduction resolutions. It mitigates the negative effects of stress on your prefrontal brain function. You can help your prefrontal cortex’s ability to recover from brief variations in activity, such as those found when individuals are anxious, just by vigorous walking for 20 minutes. If it helps, you can do it with a friend. That can help your mental health a lot, but it is also a fun social activity.
Regular Exercise Reduces Hunger
The capacity of the brain to reorganize its operations in response to novel stimuli is called “brain plasticity.” The way to enhance it is – through physical activity. Increasing brain plasticity facilitates behavioral and lifestyle modifications. Regular exercise can boost cognitive abilities via increasing activity in the prefrontal cortex.
Enhanced prefrontal cortex function and cognition via exercise makes it simpler to control or reduce the intake of unhealthy foods. And even just 20 minutes of moderate exercise produces results.
The most important thing to remember is that being physically active regularly will enhance brain function and cognition. This, in turn, helps decrease cravings for junk food and increase the willpower to say “no” to these tempting items. As a result, it’s less of a struggle to cut down on certain meals in pursuit of better health and a trimmer frame.
What is the Best Exercise?
Every exercise is good in its own way, but some are just more practical and efficient than others. Our top picks would definitely go towards cardio and outdoor activities, like:
- riding a bicycle
Why are the outdoor activities better than the others? They have so many benefits. The most obvious one is that the presence of oxygen helps your brain work better. As a result, your hormone secretions get more healthy, and the good hormones do their job more efficiently.
So, why is physical activity your best ally in overcoming cravings?
There’s no doubt that exercise helps you curb your unwanted food desires. Your brain works with the whole organism through several neurotransmitters and hormones to maintain balance. Balance is the key because when you don’t get enough physical activity, your cravings increase, and vice versa. So, now you know why physical activity is your best ally in overcoming cravings. The question is – will you use that knowledge? If you decide to take on this brave next step, be sure – we’ll be to guide you all the way.