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Do Squats Make You Hungry?
People say that muscles aren’t built in the gym at all, but rather in the kitchen, and while you shouldn’t take that saying too literally, if you scratch beneath the surface and delve a little deeper, it actually makes a whole lot of sense.
If you are making a conscious effort to build lean muscle mass and bulk up, if your diet and nutrition isn’t on point, you simply won’t make any real progress, no matter how hard you train.
On the flipside, if you’re training well and also happen to be following an optimal diet plan, the gains you make will become considerably more noticeable.
In fact, diet and nutrition is so important regardless of what your training goals may be, which is why we’re going to be looking at whether squats make you hungry in today’s article.
Do squats make you hungry?
In answer to this question, it depends on a number of variables.
To begin with, there’s genetics to consider, as some people have a faster metabolism than others and they therefore require more food for energy and burn through it quicker. Then of course, there’s the intensity of the workout itself. If you’re squatting with a light weight and low intensity level, you won’t be working as hard as you could be and so you’ll burn less energy and will require less energy.
On the flipside, if you’re squatting a heavy weight and are training at a very high intensity, because the workout will be so physically demanding you’ll eat through your energy stores faster than ever, and you’ll find the hunger setting in because the energy you’ve burnt off will need replacing.
A lot of the time, people that have squatted heavily, as well as going through a tough workout, find themselves ravenously hungry once they’ve worked out.
Why am I so hungry after training legs?
Okay, so you’ve gone through a physically demanding squatting session, your legs are destroyed, your glutes feel tighter than ever, you’re drenched in sweat, and the only thing you can think about is food! Sound familiar? If so, then don’t worry, because you’re certainly not alone.
When you exercise you’re burning calories, which means you’re burning energy which your body needs. Food contains calories which means that food is a source of energy that your body needs to replenish the energy you burnt when training.
Your brain therefore sends out hunger signals to the stomach, telling it that you’re hungry and to get some food inside it ASAP!
Squats are a very gruelling exercise which means that you’ll burn through more calories (energy) than you would if you did a light resistance circuit on the gym machines instead.
The more calories you burn, the more energy your body will require, and the hungrier you will feel.
What’s the exact science behind hunger after squats?
In order to fully understand why we feel so hungry after squatting, we need to understand the science behind it.
Squats are a compound exercise, which means that multiple muscle groups are recruited as they’re performed. This is of course very physically demanding because it means that more muscles are being worked at once. Add to this a heavy weight, high volume, and/or high intensity and you’ll find that cells located in the muscles are quickly depleted of glycogen – their primary energy source.
Cells in the muscles need glycogen not only for energy to function, but also so that the muscles can recover from an intense workout. Once glycogen levels are completely depleted, the deficit is so great that these cells will use up any spare energy that they can get hold of, no matter where it comes from.
Glucose, which is also used as energy for the cells, is shuttled into muscle cells via insulin, which the pancreas secretes in order for the cells to basically become “unlocked”. The glucose reaches receptor sites located on the muscles where the refuelling takes place. if there isn’t enough glucose for the cells however, blood sugar levels will drop which is where the hunger comes from.
Squats, blood sugar, and hunger
When it comes to squats making you hungry after training, a lot of the time the hunger they experience doesn’t set in until several hours after training. Some people even experience intense hunger the following day after a squat session. But why? Well, it all comes down to blood sugar levels.
If your blood sugar levels are too low, this will send a signal to your brain that’s basically telling it that your body is starving and that it needs energy as quickly as possible. Even after a meal, if you’re eating the wrong types of food, I.E junk food or heavily processed food, don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling hungry an hour or two after eating.
To make matters worse, studies have found a direct correlation between fatigue and hunger, as this can stimulate the production of hunger hormones such as Ghrelin, which are basically responsible for hunger. As squats are so physically demanding, the more fatigued you become, the more Ghrelin you will produce and the hungrier you will feel.
How to reduce hunger after squats
Hunger after squats can be a real pain, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or simply maintain your weight. If you do find yourself constantly hungry after squats, try the following:
- Drink a protein shake after training
- Add a scoop of dextrose or waxy maize starch to your post-workout protein shake
- Eat a healthy and high protein meal
- Drink plenty of water
- Always have a healthy meal ready to go
- Make sure to eat healthy complex carbs such as wholegrains, brown rice, sweet potatoes etc.
As you can see, squats do indeed make you hungry, and if you eat the wrong foods, or simply ignore the hunger, this can make life increasingly difficult.
Hunger is an awful feeling, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, but it’s something which we cannot ignore for our health reasons, and indeed, for our training reasons.
If you find yourself constantly hungry after squats, even the following day, be sure to read the tips we provided above, and put as many into practice as possible.