A healthy lifestyle involves a healthy diet and a ton of exercise. The trouble is that a workout can lead to serious hunger pangs and if you let yourself; you’ll end up eating more calories than you burned during your workout and that’s going to mean that your exercise routine starts making you fat. Here are our tips to fend off the post-workout munchies to allow you to make the most of your workout:
Your Brain Lies To You Post-Workout And So Does Your Calorie Tracker
People’s brains are funny things; they may be hugely complex organic computers capable of more than any supercomputer on earth but they’re also often hugely inaccurate. When you work out – your body’s hormone levels drop and in particular the hormones that tell you that you’re full. On top of this; your body’s sugar reserves are plundered during the exercise and that triggers a message to your brain to fetch more sugar. This means that people are often far hungrier following exercise than the exercise justifies. A workout which burns 250 calories can lead to 500 calories worth of consumption.
If you can recognize that this isn’t logical – you can start to take steps to prevent yourself from scoffing down every chocolate bar in the cupboard.
In particular, you can stop using that calorie tracking tool to make food decisions. Don’t replace the calories on that tracker – make a point of only replacing half or fewer calories. (It’s important to note that calorie trackers are notoriously inaccurate and generally over-estimate the number of calories burned too).
Eat Slowly Even When You Feel Famished
That post-exercise hunger can make you feel like you haven’t eaten in weeks and that you’re literally starving. Except you’re not literally starving unless you also have a severe eating disorder. Assuming that’s not the case – you need to think about the fact that you’re not starving and eat slowly.
When we’re really hungry we tend to wolf food down and because it takes our bodies roughly 20 minutes to let the brain know we’ve eaten properly – that means we pack in far too much food before the signal gets sent out. Slow down, chew more than you would normally (which is also good for digestion) and be prepared to wait a little for the brain to feel satiated again. It’s only going to be a few minutes.
Get Proteins and Fats Into The Food Mix And Leave Them Until Last
When we’re still hungry even after we’ve eaten well – it’s often because there wasn’t enough fat and protein in the meal that we’ve just had. While carbohydrates (sugars) are important; they’re quickly digested by the body and that makes us hungry again.
It’s also worth noting that if you work out in the morning; there’s a lot of evidence which shows a breakfast with fatty content will not just make you feel less hungry but will make you smarter for the day too. (This is to do with fat stimulating the myelin (fatty) sheath of the brain and making it easier to process data).
If you leave the fat and protein portions of a meal until last; they’ll last longest when it comes to stopping you from feeling hungry again.
Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep
People who exercise are often busy people and they quite often compromise on their sleep. Unfortunately for their eating habit; this means that their brains don’t regulate the hormonal appetite suppressants in the body (that are used when you get full) properly. So, you’ll find that you’re hungry more often and because you’re tired – it’s also harder to summon up the willpower to ignore your cravings.
It’s also worth noting that from an exercise perspective: tired people are more likely to get hurt and to fail to properly recover from a workout too.
You Could Time Your Workouts To Your Meal Schedule
One of the easiest ways to keep your workout hunger under control is simply to time your workouts so that they take place before each meal. Then while you’ll still be eating breakfast, lunch or dinner – you shouldn’t be eating an extra meal.
Of course that’s not always practical in the mix of daily life; so if you can’t time your workouts with your meals – you should always eat a little something (nuts are good) about 30 minutes before you work out to lessen the impact of workout hunger.
Have A Snack During Long Workouts
If you’re going to be working out for an extended period of time (2 hours or more) then you’ll be best off giving your body a quick refuel during that work out. This will help even out the flow of sugars in your body and leave you less likely to be famished when the workout is over. Whatever snack you choose should be high in carbohydrates for this purpose but make sure to keep it in proportion to the exercise you are doing. A snack is a donut; not a bag of donuts.
Drink Lots of Water
Water is awesome stuff. Our bodies need water to function and you’ll lose a fair amount of water during a rigorous exercise session. So, you need to replace the lost fluids from the workout. The good news is that the more water you consume during your meal; the fuller you will feel without consuming any calories because water is 100% calorie free.
Plan Consistent Meals
Our final tip is simple; you want to plan the meals that you’re going to eat during the day. The more consistent you can make them in terms of calorific intake and overall nutritional content – the easier it will be for your body to get used to the portion sizes that you use.
Our brains can be fooled into thinking that they’re getting everything they want (thanks to those demanding hormones) by regular meals which are consistent. It’s a simple way of working out the mind to support the workout of the body.