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Not Hungry After a Workout? Try This!

Are you someone who’s not hungry after a workout? While you may not feel physical hunger, it may still be important for you to eat something – here’s what experts recommend!

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While some people feel extreme hunger, like a bottomless pit, after a workout, others have less subtle hunger cues and experience not feeling hungry after workout.

And some people have absolutely no appetite after a workout – in fact, they may feel more nauseous.

In fact, if you have stomach pain after a workout, it could be a sign that you over- or under-fueled for your workout.

girl in red shirt bending over with stomach pain after running

This is the sports nutrition resource you’ve been missing in your training. It can help make sure you’re eating enough for performance and recovery.grab it now!

intuitive eating ebook

Why Am I Not Hungry After a Workout?

You may be wondering why you don’t feel hungry after exercise, and there is a scientific explanation.

I chatted with some sports dietitians and runner colleagues and am sharing their thoughts.

Change in Hormones

If you’re not hungry after running, there is evidence behind this mechanism.

“Research shows that both endurance training and lower volume sprint intervals can suppress the release of hunger hormones, such as ghrelin,” said Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, of Student Athlete Nutrition.

“We also know that exercise, especially running, can shuttle blood flow away from the digestive tract, which may contribute to less noticeable hunger as well. This doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need energy and nutrients, though, just that it’s having trouble telling you!”

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD

In other words, though you may not feel hungry, it’s not synonymous with your body not needing fuel.

Eggs and oatmeal after a workout

“Exercise affects appetite through a variety of mechanisms,” adds Laura Norris of Laura Norris Running, a running coach and certified personal trainer with a M.S. in exercise physiology.

“At high enough intensities (<70% VO2max – upper end of easy running and higher) and longer durations over 60 minuyrd, exercise alters the secretion of certain hormones and gut peptides that regulate appetite. The hormonal effects include suppressed ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone) and increased peptide YY (a hunger-suppressing hormone).”

“As demonstrated in a 2016 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, both men and women experience these hormonal changes after exercise,” Norris adds.

Iphone, headphones and sneakers on wooden floor before exercise

Gut hormone alterations play a key role, but they are not the sole mechanism in appetite suppression after exercise. 

2022 study published in Nature concluded that N-lactoyl-phenlalanine (Lac-Phe), which is a metabolite produced from lactate and the amino acid alanine, also suppresses appetite after exercise. 

While this hormone is meant to control appetite, food intake and energy balance, its rise after exercise may be working against us, preventing us from feeling hungry.


After a workout (especially a high intense workout), you may be feeling a slew of other physical symptoms, such as the “runner’s high,” adrenaline, high heart rate, dehydration, etc.), that your body is working on managing.

You may also be a salty sweater, leading to electrolyte imbalances. Hence, it is not able to perfectly tune in to your hunger feels or needs.

How much water should you drink in the summer months when running?

GI Issues

Have you ever experienced runners stomach or other GI issues during or after running? It’s very common!

It’s estimated that GI disturbances can affect between 30-83% of runners, and as you may think, this can certainly hamper performance

Lack of Time and Attention

Many people may squeeze in a run or workout in the morning, before kids are up and before starting the morning ritual and work commute.

In doing so, they may feel rushed and have other things to attend to after their workouts.

Hence, refueling may not be high on the priority list, or it may be forgotten entirely.

These homemade snacks for runners can be great to make ahead of time, or even mixing some protein powder or collagen in with milk.

Confused Woman Looking In Open Refrigerator

Furthermore, if it is habitual to skip breakfast or a post-workout snack, you can actually train your body to not feel hungry after a workout.

Exercise can be tricky, and can lead to both over- and under-nutrition.

As explained, these short-term changes in gut hormones explain why exercise is important for weight management, but also may explain why many athletes struggle with eating enough to support their nutritional demands after a challenging training session.

Undereating and/or overexercising is a main cause of relative energy deficiency, which can lead to a slew of other symptoms and problems, so avoiding this at all concerns is crucial.  

a visual representation of how RED-S can affect many systems within an athelete

Things To Help When You’re Not Hungry after Exercise

So, you’re probably wondering – well I have all of this working against me after exercise – no wonder I’m not hungry!

But, if you plan for it ahead of time and have some systems in place, you can make sure to rehydrate and refuel adequately, which will make you stronger and faster for your subsequent workouts and runs.

Waiting just 2 hours after exercise to replace carbs can reduce glycogen (muscle carbohydrate) replenishment by up to 50%! 

Prep Ahead of Time

If a barrier to not eating after exercise is not knowing what to eat or not having anything prepared, keep some easy post workout snacks on hand. I

love to refer to these healthy snacks for athletes and lunches for runners for ideas and inspiration.

Check out this athlete grocery list for more staples to always keep on hand.

My favorite go-to for the best store-bought snacks for athletes is Thrive Market. They have so many fun and nutritious options, plus they are shipped right to your door. 

Here are 11 of my favorites.

  1. Peanut Butter Filled Nuggets – Athletes love a good salty snack, and these peanut butter pretzel nuggets are just that. They work as a great pre game snack for athletes, with 12 pretzels offering 110 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrates. 
  2. Dried Mango / Dried Fruit – Dried fruit is a great portable option that provides much of the same benefit as fresh fruit, but lasts longer. Dried fruit, like raisins, are also higher in iron and provide quick energy for your cells to use. 
  3. Jerky – There are so many jerky options on the market now, whether you prefer beef, turkey or even salmon. Jerky provides an easy protein snack for athletes, while also providing some necessary sodium and small amounts of micronutrients, like iron.
  4. Frooze Balls – These energy balls are great for pre or post workout, or even for an energy pick me up throughout the day. Great flavors to choose from!
  5. Protein Power Balls – Similar to frooze balls, pre-made plant based protein balls already made for you. I love sticking these in the fridge and pairing with some cheese or nuts. 
  6. Bobo’s Stuffed Bars – High in carbs and protein, these bars are great for high energy needs, and providing a balanced snack on their own between meals or after a workout session. 
  7. Power Snacks / Protein Bites – Get protein along with heart-healthy unsaturated fats in these cocoa bites!
  8. Sprouted Trail Mix – A great blend of carbs, fat and protein in this tasty and portable trail mix. Add it on yogurt or oatmeal for a larger snack. 
  9. Ancient Grains Granola – Granola is a great snack for athletes because it’s carb-based and can be full of healthy fats from nuts and seeds, as well as dried fruit. So many flavors to choose from. 
  10. Superfood Oats – These are a fantastic snack to have hours before a workout because they are high in carbs and have a moderate amount of protein. 
  11. Whisp Cheese Crisps – High in sodium and protein, these are great after a workout. Pair with your favorite fruit. 
  12. Ready Made Protein Shakes – Easy, shelf stable, and great for recovery! So many of these recovery drinks for runners are great options.
  13. Nut Butter Bites – These are so tasty and full of real food ingredients. I can’t get enough!
thrive market

Become Familiar with the Intuitive Eating Scale

Understanding that your body still needs fuel even though it isn’t telling you it’s physically hungry can be hard to wrap your head around.

You may have heard that intuitive eating is “listening to your body,” and well, if you don’t feel hungry, there’s no need to eat, right?


The intuitive eating hunger scale can be helpful for learning to tune in to some of these physical feelings, such as lack of hunger or appetite, but also becoming aware of situational, or practical hunger.

list of things that can disrupt hunger after a workout

Here is a page from my Hunger Ebook about what can disrupt hunger, in addition to exercise. There are other things, too, that you may have noticed in which you have lost your appetite.

Our bodies are smart, but they aren’t perfect, and sometimes we have to use our mind to make up for it.

Waiting just 2 hours after exercise to replace carbs can reduce glycogen (muscle carbohydrate) replenishment by up to 50%! 

Eat More Before Your Workout

If you’re someone who just can’t stomach a ton of food after, no matter what, try compensating by eating a little bit more before your workout.

We have several ideas for what to eat before running in the morning and even the best pre game snacks for athletes.

In doing so, your body will be in a less depleted state.

chocolate baked oats in white baking pan with serving size in white bowl topped with peanut butter and raspberries
Baked Chocolate Oatmeal

Why Am I So Hungry the Day After A Workout?

While you may not feel hungry after a workout, it’s also common to fall on the flip side too and to feel so hungry after a workout.

You may feel very hungry after a workout, or even the day after a workout. It’s very common to have elevated hunger levels the day AFTER a workout.

This is usually for a variety of reasons, including:

  • your body temperature has gone back down
  • you may not have eaten enough on the day of your workout
  • your body continues to burn energy after a workout, especially a high-intensity one, revving up your metabolism and leading to higher energy/caloric needs
  • You may be more hydrated and have better electrolyte balance, versus when you just finished your workout. If you’re a salty sweater, it’s extra important that you are getting enough sodium replenishment and hydrating appropriately for your activity!

In short, if you are so hungry the day after a workout, don’t freak out and feel like you’ve overdone it. Honor your body and challenge your fear of hunger.

Athletes performance plate

What Should I Eat When I’m Not Hungry After a Workout?

Here are some suggestions for athletes and runners to eat after a workout if you have no appetite after exercise.

While you may not ideally hit the performance plate recommendations right away, something is better than nothing. Start small if you have to!

Normal hunger cues should return within 1-2 hours.

You want to aim for a blend of protein and carbohydrates.

Protein needs for athletes is of utmost concern after a workout to prevent further muscle breakdown and start the muscle rebuilding process!

Sometimes, it helps to start with bland foods that are palatable and high in carbohydrates, like crackers, cheez it’s, goldfish or graham crackers.


Jones adds, “My top recommendations for those who experience post-exercise appetite suppression are nutrient-packed protein smoothies, drinkable yogurt or kefir, or milk, since they offer a blend of carbs that replenish energy stores as well as protein to begin the recovery process.”

Consider these ideas.

We hope these ideas help for when you’re not hungry after working out.


  1. Alajmi N, Deighton K, King JA, Reischak-Oliveira A, Wasse LK, Jones J, Batterham RL, Stensel DJ. Appetite and Energy Intake Responses to Acute Energy Deficits in Females versus Males. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Mar;48(3):412-20. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000793. PMID: 26465216; PMCID: PMC5642317.
  2. Erdman KA, Jones KW, Madden RF, Gammack N, Parnell JA. Dietary Patterns in Runners with Gastrointestinal Disorders. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 29;13(2):448. doi: 10.3390/nu13020448. PMID: 33572891; PMCID: PMC7912258.
  3. Li VL, He Y, Contrepois K, Liu H, Kim JT, Wiggenhorn AL, Tanzo JT, Tung AS, Lyu X, Zushin PH, Jansen RS, Michael B, Loh KY, Yang AC, Carl CS, Voldstedlund CT, Wei W, Terrell SM, Moeller BC, Arthur RM, Wallis GA, van de Wetering K, Stahl A, Kiens B, Richter EA, Banik SM, Snyder MP, Xu Y, Long JZ. An exercise-inducible metabolite that suppresses feeding and obesity. Nature. 2022 Jun;606(7915):785-790. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04828-5. Epub 2022 Jun 15. PMID: 35705806; PMCID: PMC9767481.
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