Why do we always crave for foods after a tiring mental activity? Some researchers have claimed that it is because thinking takes a lot of energy from the brain and since the capacity to store fuel has it’s limits, the brain needs more calories to keep going and this can results in body hunger. Maybe this is why students tend to eat more during examination periods and college students are more likely to gain more weight.
Thus, an experiment has been conducted by the scientist of University Of Alabama, Birmingham guided by Gary Hunter who is an exercise physiologist in U.A.B. on exercise to counter such post-study food binges. Hunter claimed that tough activities both increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate which is a byproduct of intense muscle contradictions that is circulating in the blood and increases the blood flow to the head. As the brain uses sugar and lactate as a fuel, researchers wanted to find out if the if the increased flow of fuel-rich blood during an exercise could supply energy to an exhausted brain.
For this study, there were 38 participants which consist of 38 healthy college students. They were invited to U.A.B’s exercise lab and were then measured on their fitness and metabolic rates and to also state what their favourite pizza was.
During the first 35 minutes of the study, participants sat quietly before they were given as much of their favourite pizza as they wanted. This is to create a baseline measure of self-indulgence. At a later date, the students returned and spent 20 minutes addressing options from college and graduate-school exams. Hunter claimed that this is to increase mental fatigue and hunger. After that, the participants were divided into half. Half of the students sat quietly for 15 minutes before they were given pizza while the other half spent 15 minute doing intervals on treadmill, repeating the process of 2 minutes of running and one minute of walking for five times. This measure is to make the sugar and the lactate to be released into the blood stream. After they finished, they were also given pizza.
The results were surprising, they didn’t overeat. It turns out that the non-exercisers consumed more calories than the one who exercise. It appeared that the exercisers consumed 25 fewer calories than they did during their baseline session while nonexercisers about 100 calories more. When the researcher factored in the calories expended on running, they found out that the students consumed 200 fewer calories after the brain workouts than the resting students.