If you’re striving to tamp down on food cravings, try replacing — or supplementing — one of your regular workouts with a jump-rope session. This schoolyard staple may help curb appetite.
A recent study by Japanese researchers found that jumping exercises may help suppress appetite — especially for fatty foods. If true, the findings would provide insight into the mechanics of exercise and hormone regulation, as well as offer a glimmer of hope for people who struggle with food cravings as a barrier to weight loss.
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The study, published in the journal Appetite, analyzed the appetite-suppressing effects of three activities — jumping rope, riding a stationary bicycle, and resting — following a 12-hour fast.
The researchers asked the participants, 15 men in their mid-20s, to rate their perceived hunger levels before, during, and after the assigned exercise or rest period. They found that appetite was suppressed during and immediately after both types of exercise, with jumping rope having the greater impact. Both exercises also had positive effects on the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and peptide YY, and busted cravings for fatty foods.
Wins all around, right?
Before you grab that jump rope, it’s worth noting a few caveats, says Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, an authority on nutrition and obesity, and the director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore.
Cheskin points out that the study only shows appetite being quashed for about two hours after the start of exercise. “You might acutely suppress your appetite,” he said, speculating that jumping up and down may “jiggle your GI tract,” making it unpleasant to eat during or soon after exercising. “But hours later, you might be starving.”
Cheskin also noted that participants reported their perceived hunger levels to researchers — but the study did not track what or how much they actually ate. “Hunger is not the only reason we eat and hormones don’t necessarily drive behavior,” Cheskin said.
Additionally, by comparing only jumping rope (classified by the researchers as “weight-bearing”) and riding a stationary bike (“non-weight-bearing”), the findings are limited to the effects of predominantly cardiovascular exercise.
“It would be interesting to know the effect of strength training,” which is weight-bearing but may not necessarily have the same effect as jumping rope, Cheskin said.
Whatever the case, you can’t go wrong spending some time skipping rope: You’ll get a fine cardio workout, engage many different muscle groups, and build agility and coordination. And if you find yourself with fewer hunger pangs afterward, so much the better.