Not too long ago, I received a phone call from a friend. She called me to ask how she should handle a stall in her weight-loss journey. The culprit? Working out. She had finally taken the initiative to join a gym and start taking classes. She said at first she felt really good about her decision. After all, she was attending cycling classes regularly and working out as hard as she could. That' why she couldn't believe it when she stepped on the scale a few weeks later and realized she hadn't lost any weight!
How could this be? After discussing some of her other behaviors, I figured out the problem. She would go home feeling confident about her workout, but a couple hours later, she would feel extremely hungry. Since she had just worked out, she thought she could afford to munch on a few snacks. The only problem is, she was choosing the wrong foods and eating back all the calories she just burned off!
Sound familiar? This a problem that many dieters face. And because most people are unaware of the cause, it can become a major setback if handled incorrectly.
In fact, this is such a common issue that it was a recent topic in Time Magazine. Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University, says, "In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless." This may come as a surprise to some, but many people may relate to this conundrum. The problem isn't that working out doesn't burn calories. Of course it does! The problem is the hunger that takes place after you work out.
After an intense workout, it's inevitable that your body will crave calories. During these times, it is important to remember that although you may want to eat a big slice of greasy pizza, there are definitely better options that you won't regret later.
I know that after I have completed a long workout, I feel my hunger suppressed for a little while. But later that evening, the cravings start. Instead of letting this hinder my weight-loss goals, I have opted to take charge of the situation and my body.
When choosing post-workout snacks, gravitate toward foods that contain fiber to combat your hunger and protein to support muscle building. Try to avoid foods that will go straight to your stomach, such as breads and other carb-dense foods. Although we need carbs to fuel our energy levels, these consumed calories will counteract what you did in the gym. Sticking with foods that curb cravings and build muscle will help you get the most out of your workouts.
Here are some of the snacks I recommend post workout:
- Protein-powder smoothie
- Sweet potato
Working out is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, so don't let it become your downfall. The answer is not to skip your workout, but to skip the wrong snacks afterward.