After a good workout, some of us feel like we need to devour everything in sight. And for the most part, we should be consuming the right amount of calories to compensate what we burned even when we are dieting. The ‘SEE FOOD” diet isn’t going to help you one bit.
But before we start on the why.
What you must do in the first place is make sure your diet is in check. You need to understand when, what and how much to eat to power your body’s engine 24/7. If it peaks and dips in energy levels, it may mean you have inconsistent eating habits. Irregular eating habits send your cravings into overdrive.
Try fixing your diet by charting out a meal plan. If you have the wallet for it, a nutritionist can do a great deal for you. If not, there are a ton of good reads online to help you out.
Once you get that sorted out, you can move on to – what you should be eating to meet your weight goals.
After a workout, you should reach for healthy dairy options, like yogurt. The protein in them helps repair muscles and their carbs replenish energy. Another great source for those hunger pangs is fresh fruit smoothies.
Don’t starve yourself. Eventually, you will need to eat, and our body wants to consume energy-dense food as quickly as possible, which will leave you craving fatty foods.
But what happens if you ate a healthy snack after a workout and still crave food? Well, you may not be hungry as sometimes the brains signal get crossed. Hydration is also key to a healthy diet. Most people don’t drink enough fluids before, during, and after their workout. The brain confuses a lack of hydration with hunger, triggering hunger pains. Poor hydration can trigger sugar and salt cravings and make you feel hungry when you are actually dehydrated.
Now on to the why.
Most workouts involve some form of glycogen burning, when glycogen levels dip, your body pulls in sugar from your blood to use as fuel. When there is insufficient sugar in your blood, your body starts to release ghrelin to signal that you need to refuel. This is why you need to fuel up before working out. We are not saying stuff your face, but a protein shake an hour before a workout should do the trick.
Hunger is not the enemy. It means that your body is working efficiently and that it’s metabolizing and storing your food as fuel, hunger is your body’s demand for fuel. At times you won’t find yourself immediately hungry after an intense workout.
This is because, during a workout, your body redirects all its blood flow and energy to areas like skin, lungs, and muscles. It doesn’t want you to eat because your body has briefly shut down your digestive system. But once that part of the body’s job is over, your hunger pains set in. Cue, ghrelin release.
Then there is your body’s temperature. During intense workouts, your body temperature can sore. So much so, that digestion is virtually shut down until blood flow, and temperature normalizes. This is because your body is using the energy to cool itself down.
Then there is your muscle mass. The muscles are very active tissue, the harder you train, the more micro tears you’ll have, requiring your body to need more fuel for refueling, replenishing and repairing. The more muscle mass you have, the greater amount of fuel you’ll need.