Have you ever gone into a yoga class hungry, only to find that your practice made you lose your appetite? Appetite loss is a common side-effect of yoga, and although doing a few yoga poses won’t make you want to give up food, it can help you develop a healthier relationship with food, your body, and your mind.
Yoga makes you lose your appetite because you become more aware of your body and mind during practice. Doing yoga helps you gain intuitive eating skills, releases hormones that suppress hunger, reduces stress, and aids in digestion, helping you develop better eating habits.
So, yoga can make you lose your appetite in more ways than one. In this article, I’ll break down all of the appetite-affecting properties of yoga to teach you how a regular practice can benefit your relationship with hunger and your body. I’ll also tell you how effective yoga is for weight loss and treating eating disorders.
How Yoga Affects Your Appetite
Yoga is a holistic practice that helps you get in tune with your body and your mind. So, whether your impulse to eat is out of sync with your body or brain, yoga can help.
Let’s take a look at how yoga can affect your appetite and help you develop healthy eating habits:
Yoga Makes You More Aware of Hunger Cues
Arguably, yoga’s most significant benefit is the mindfulness that it imparts to its practitioners. This mindfulness helps you “take inventory” of your body’s impulses, thoughts, physical movements, and responses to stress.
In addition, yoga can help you realistically assess your hunger levels and identify eating patterns that might not be in tune with your body’s needs.
Intuitive eating is challenging for many people, but through regular yoga practice, you can develop higher sensitivity to your body’s messages. In the case of appetite, yoga can help you understand when your stomach is full and when you need food.
This skill is the most significant way yoga helps with weight loss, but it goes far beyond the weight loss benefits associated with cardio and dieting fads.
Instead of actively suppressing your appetite for prolonged periods, yoga teaches you to honor and understand what your body needs, which can help with much more than overeating. It will also help you develop confidence, coordination, stress management, and other healthy habits.
Exercise Temporarily Suppresses Your Appetite
Even yoga’s gentle approach to calorie-burning can curb your appetite. Research has proven that exercise can suppress hunger in many ways.
For example, increased body temperature from any exercise can regulate the hormones in your body that increase your hunger levels. So, holding a challenging yoga pose and breaking a sweat or heading to a hot yoga class can suppress your appetite for up to a few hours.
Another way that exercise decreases appetite is through the release of lactate and phenylalanine, an amino acid. Most people’s bodies produce these substances after exercising, and scientists have proven that they actively suppress appetite.
Yoga Reduces Stress
Stress eating is something that most of us don’t even think twice about, but yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness allows us to confront and overcome stress in our minds and bodies non-judgmentally.
According to experts at Harvard Medical School, people who regularly practice yoga have less stress than those who don’t. In addition, those who practice yoga experience relief from all of the physical side effects of chronic stress, like rapid cellular aging, inflammation, and increased heart rate.
With yoga’s ability to help you overcome both the physical and mental symptoms of stress, it’s a lot easier to curb cravings and recognize when you’re actually hungry and not just reaching for a crunchy snack to release some pent-up stress or anxiety.
Some Yoga Positions May Make You Feel Fuller
Yoga positions such as downward dog, bridge pose, child’s pose, and most twists are examples of yoga positions that aid in digestion, but these positions aid in digestion in different ways.
While some increase circulation to help your abdominal muscles engage and process food healthily, others apply pressure to your organs, making you feel fuller.
Whether it’s a twist, forward fold, or abdominal stretch, yoga can shift your stomach and its contents. This shift often helps you take a full assessment of how full you are, but it can also help you realize when you’re too full.
If you want to learn more about how yoga aids digestion, you might find my other article on Yoga After Eating. In it, I explain why you shouldn’t eat a heavy meal before yoga.
Yoga’s Role In the Treatment of Eating Disorders
You don’t have to have an eating disorder to appreciate the hunger-related benefits of yoga. Still, regular yoga practice has become a critical part of eating disorder treatment, which goes to show how good it can be for your mind and body.
Researchers have performed many studies on the benefits of yoga for people with Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and Anorexia Nervosa. These studies indicate that yoga is an excellent medical treatment for these disorders.
Yoga’s effectiveness lies in its ability to increase a person’s ability to recognize and honor their thoughts and impulses without acting on or judging them.
This mindfulness aspect of yoga can help people with food-related disorders overcome the shame and guilt they feel about eating, help them repair the disconnect they feel with their bodies, and develop healthy eating habits.
Even if you don’t have disordered eating habits, you can still reap these benefits from your practice, helping you become more in tune with your body and mind.
Does Yoga Cause Weight Loss?
Yoga causes weight loss by giving you a better understanding of your appetite, boosting your metabolism, burning calories, and improving your joint health. However, yoga also increases muscle mass, which may increase your weight in muscle mass.
Yoga is a very healthy practice. Its gentle motions and focus on honoring your body’s needs ensure that you can get a good workout without pushing yourself too far and injuring yourself.
This benefit will help you develop a more active lifestyle, priming your joints and increasing flexibility. Other exercises are much easier if you don’t have aching joints and a limited range of movement.
In addition, it is an effective way to lose weight due to its ability to suppress your appetite. Like any exercise, it also burns calories and increases muscle tone and mass.
Still, the additional muscle mass you gain from your yoga practice may negate any fat loss, which is usually a welcome gain.
However, don’t expect yoga to have the same weight loss benefits as cardio activities like running and cycling. Instead, yoga’s focus is on helping you stay in tune with your body and recognize when you need exercise and when you need to rest.
Yoga makes you lose your appetite because:
- Through your practice, you become more aware of hunger cues.
- Exercise temporarily suppresses your appetite.
- Yoga can reduce stress and stress-related eating patterns.
- Some yoga positions aid in digestion and make you feel fuller.
Yoga can help you on your weight loss journey, and it can also help you repair an unhealthy relationship with food. These benefits are just some of the things that yoga offers, which is part of why I love it so much!