From skwigg's journal:
I workout about an hour a day. I enjoy my workouts. I don't resent them, and I always have enough energy to do them. But, I have noticed that they make me more hungry and make hunger a bit more urgent. I don't want to stop the workouts beacuse they have done a world of good for my sleep, my mood, and my stress management. I do wonder though if they're keeping me at a higher weight than I'd like to be just because they jack up my food intake a bit.
It's not that exercise makes us hungry and then we eat too much. It's that exercise makes us hungry, we ignore or deny it, eat what seems "reasonable," and then find ourselves gasping for food when it's available. It wasn't the exercise that did it though, it was the denial of adequate food. It's also cumulative. If you're very active and undershoot your needs once in awhile, no big deal. If you do it most of the time, appetite really builds. You find yourself more than making up whatever deficit you intended to create. The solution is to stop forcing a deficit, ignoring hunger, or sticking to a calorie cap, and actually start listening to your body, eating foods you enjoy to satisfaction. A predictable, adequate, and varied food intake over time ends the cycle of restriction and overindulgence.
So, it's great to be very active if you're recovering properly and eating enough. Otherwise, it gets tricky. Nobody is good at mindfulness while eating, stopping at satisfied, or being indifferent about cookies when there's urgent gnawing hunger involved.
You might find it interesting to revisit the intuitive eating hunger and fullness scale. As much as I railed against it when I was treating it as an obsessive diet rule, revisiting it this last time with curiosity and openness, I found it phenomenally helpful. With some practice, I could feel the subtleties of early hunger and feel fullness building in the moment, which I had written off as not possible. I don't put numbers to food anymore, but learning to identify all those levels between ravenous and stuffed allowed me to live happily in the middle of the range most of the time instead of ping ponging between extremes.
A sound workout approach leaves you feeling energized and strong. It doesn't crush you like a bug, make you ravenous, or scramble your hormones. That means most days are easy or medium in intensity and duration. Truly hard days are occasional. For me, that's once a week or less.
It was a huge breakthrough for me to completely untangle exercise from food and weight. I exercise for health, happiness, strength, endurance, flexibility, relaxation, all kinds of reasons having nothing to do with what I eat or weigh. It is incredibly liberating to move for the joy of moving and eat for the joy of eating. Diet logic tends to kill joy with daggers. You're left going through the motions, hating it, and not getting results.
You really can't go wrong with eating and moving to feel good. That's the gauge for whether what you're doing is effective and sustainable. Pursuing a clean, virtuous, low-calorie diet at the same time I increase workout intensity has never ended well one time. Though it took me years to step back and see that objectively.
In addition to eating enough, recovering properly plays a big role in what your appetite does. Long workouts are fine sometimes. Hard workouts are fine sometimes. It's when every workout is long and hard that we start getting smashed up. We find ourselves hungry and tired no matter how we're eating. Jill Coleman talks about keeping your HEC in check - hunger, energy, cravings. If energy is low and hunger and cravings are high, that's the red flag of overdoing it. Taking some time off or doing some easier workouts can make a huge difference in our eating.