Hungry for More: How to Manage Post-Workout Cravings
Understanding Your Hunger
The key to sticking with your workout and diet while dodging stomach rumblings and cravings is to understand the relationship between energy (food) and exercise and to learn to use it to your advantage. The first step is decoding where the hunger is coming from.Happy Hunger
If you like to celebrate the end of a tough workout with a treat (Vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles? Yes, please!), listen up. "I have many clients who think if they work out, they can reward themselves by eating whatever they want," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet and a FITNESS advisory board member. That approach can backfire. "My advice is to eat back no more than half the calories you burn off during a workout. So if you burn 300 calories jogging, you have 150 calories to play with afterward." The trick is to maximize your nutritional intake in minimal calories. Rather than use those 150 calories on a vitamin drink -- the wrong move, because liquid calories won't satisfy your hunger -- a better option would be to "spend those calories on healthy, filling foods, such as a sliced apple with peanut butter, to maximize satiety," Blatner says.Fear Hunger
On the other end of the spectrum, some women are afraid to consume calories before their sweat session, figuring they'll negate the purpose of 60 minutes on the elliptical. But working out on an empty stomach means that you won't have the energy to exercise as long or as hard, so you'll end up burning fewer calories than if you had amped up your stamina with a 200-calorie pre-workout snack and pushed your way through a tough session, says Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a FITNESS advisory board member. "Eating something, such as a piece of fruit, before exercise may give you more energy to get through a workout," Blatner says.Rebellion Hunger
Leaving your fuel supply depleted post-workout is similarly shortsighted. Eventually you will get hungry -- and crave fatty food. "When we're starving, our body wants to consume energy-dense food as quickly as possible," Sonneville says. So instead of spending 150 calories after the gym on a low-fat yogurt, you end up scarfing down two 600-calorie brownies a couple of hours later.
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