You burn a lot of calories during a workout, so it’s natural to experience an increase in appetite afterwards. Your body is prompting you to eat in order to rebuild its fuel stores.
But if you’re not careful, you could end up eating more calories than you burned off at the gym, without actually nourishing yourself. Try this post-game plan:
After your workout, hydrate! Drink a glass of water before grabbing food. Because the symptoms of dehydration are similar to those of hunger (feeling tired, weak and shaky), we often think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. Plus, drinking water after exercising replenishes fluids lost through sweating.
For best results, drink water before, during, and after your workouts.
Snack well. To refuel your body, eat a snack around 150 - 200 calories that’s a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates. Protein is essential for repairing and building muscles and the complex carbs will help replenish your energy stores. Pretzels, on the other hand, are loaded with empty calories — they contain no protein or complex carbs. Try an apple with string cheese, a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, or a cup of fat-free Greek yogurt topped with a high-fiber cereal. These combos will help keep you from munching.
And here’s some good news: As your body adjusts to exercising, you should experience a decrease in appetite. In fact, research shows that exercise actually lowers appetite for up to several hours afterwards.
So keep up your workouts and say goodbye to post exercise binges.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.