11 Tips To Stop Over-Eating After A Workout

You must have sweated off hundreds of calories during that Boxing class, so it’s totally okay to indulge in a bowl of ice cream when you get home—right? Not so fast. Research shows that people tend to reward themselves with rich foods and large portions after exercising, and that they often eat back all of (if not more than) the calories they just burned.

There’s nothing wrong with small snack or a filling dinner after exercising, but before you dig in, you have to understand your body’s true nutrition needs so you don’t end up gaining weight despite all your hard work. Here are 11 tips or I’d like to think the smartest ways to refuel—and silence that rumbling belly post a hard workout.

1. Work out right before a meal

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If you’re always hungry after you exercise—regardless of whether you ate beforehand or how many calories you burned—try to schedule your workouts before one of your main meals. That way, you can refuel with calories you would have consumed anyway, without having to add extra snacks into your day.

This strategy can work regardless of whether you’re a morning, noon, or night time exerciser. Have a small snack when you wake up and eat a larger breakfast after your a.m. run; hit the gym at lunchtime and pick up a sandwich on the way back to the office; or prep your dinner ahead of time so you can just heat it up when you get home from an evening barre class.

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2. Make your workout fun

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Thinking about exercise less as a chore and more as something you do because you enjoy it can help you eat less afterward. A recent experiment by researcher James Douglas of the independent Institute of Health and Weight Loss in Washington D.C., followed volunteers on a 1.4—mile walk, telling half of them that it was for exercise and the other half that they were just going for a scenic stroll. The “exercise” group ate 35% more chocolate pudding for dessert than the “scenic” group. In another experiment, volunteers were given post-walk snacks, and the “exercisers” ate 124% more calories than those who were told it was just for fun.

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3. Pair Protein and Carb

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When you do need a snack to recover from a tough sweat session, Douglas recommends a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. “This will allow you to begin to replenish your energy levels and repair muscle damage resulting from the workout,” he says. For workouts less than an hour, keep your snack to 150 to 200 calories total—an open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a slice of turkey and cheese on crackers, or a handful of trail mix, for example. If you worked out for longer than an hour and aren’t eating a full meal soon, aim for half a gram of carbohydrates for every pound of body weight. A 140-pound person, for example, should refuel with 70 grams of carbs and about 18 grams of protein. (An energy bar or protein shake, plus one of the healthy snacks above, should fit the bill.)

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4. Got Milk?

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Low-fat dairy is another great recovery food with plenty of protein to help tide you over until your next meal. Studies have shown that refueling with dairy—low-fat chocolate milk, specifically—helps improve subsequent athletic performances better than traditional sports drinks.

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5. Stop Eating Out of Habit
Sometimes, overeating after exercise is more a consequence of routine than anything else. When you consistently consume a 500-calorie smoothie after you finish up at the gym, you start to get into that habit of consuming a smoothie no matter how long or intense your exercise was. What is a solution for this? Choose different snacks for different workouts—the shorter the duration, the fewer calories you need to replenish— and always pay attention to your hunger cues. It’s important for weight loss and weight maintenance to get in tune with your body and learn to eat in response to hunger, versus eating in response to boredom, stress, or the idea of rewarding yourself for exercising.

6. Your fitness tracker is not an accurate indicator or calories loss
Activity trackers like the Fitbit and Jawbone have become a trendy way to estimate physical activity expenditure throughout the day. But a 2014 Iowa State University study found that not all devices are accurate in estimating calorie burn during workouts. The least accurate device, the Basis Band, had an error rate of 23.5%.

Even the most accurate trackers can still only provide an estimate of true calorie burn, says Douglas, and it’s not smart to base your re-fueling strategy entirely on their calculations. “You also want to get in the habit of eating in response to hunger and stopping in response to comfortable fullness. This is dictated less by numbers and more by listening to your body.”

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7. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day

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It may seem counterintuitive, but eating more throughout the day may be your ticket to consuming fewer calories overall, especially if you tend to pig out post-workout. “Incorporating two to three healthy snacks throughout the day will help regulate hunger between meals, increase energy, and keep metabolism bumped up,” says Douglas. Need some ideas? Here are 18 snacks that stoke your metabolism.

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8. You probably didn’t burn as many calories as you had thought
You may feel like you burned a million calories during your Boxing class, but research shows that we tend to overestimate our energy expenditure during exercise—by as much as four-fold, according to a study from the University of Ottawa. When volunteers were then asked to eat back all the calories they’d just burned, they tended to consume two to three times more than what they’d actually expended.

One high-tech way to prevent overestimating your calorie burn: wear a heart-rate monitor. Most of these include a sensor worn around your chest and a wristwatch, which sync together wirelessly. Still, if your heart-rate monitor says you burned 600 calories, that’s not automatically an excuse to scarf down a 600-calorie sundae. “If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than you expend,” Douglas says.

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9. Drink water as soon as you are done your workout

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Replacing the fluids you lost during a workout should be priority number one. “Having a lot of water in the belly also reduces appetite—not a lot, but a little,” Douglas says. “Guzzle water as soon as you walk in the door to quench your thirst and take up space in your tummy.” Just don’t consume massive quantities. Taking in too much water (or any fluid) can cause water intoxication due to excessively low levels of salt in the body.

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10. Do you really need to eat right away?
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to eat something immediately after your workout to help your muscles recover. But the truth is, you might not need to, says Douglas. Say you’ve just finished up a tough run and you know you’d like to hit the gym for weight training in the morning. In that case, yes you should have something to eat. “But if you’re taking a few days off before your next hard workout, you probably don’t need to worry about refueling quickly,” Dogulas explains. If you’re not hungry, then don’t force yourself to eat, he says. “You’re going to eat those calories eventually, so why not save them for your next meal when you’re actually hungry?”

11. Refuel along the way

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For workouts lasting longer than two hours—like a long bike ride or a marathon training run—sucking down a gel or sipping a sports drink will keep you from feeling ravenous afterward. “Research has shown that people eat fewer calories after exercise when they take in carbs during exercise,” says Douglas. “In fact, their total calorie intake for the 24-hour period that includes the workout comes out to be slightly lower if they fuel up during it.” (Also important: You won’t run out of steam halfway through your training session.) Try to consume 30 to 60 grams of carbs—that’s 120 to 240 calories—every hour after your first hour. Avoid anything with protein, since it takes longer to for the stomach to digest.

 

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7 Signs You’re Working Out Too Much

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When it comes to healthy habits, you can have too much of a good thing. Fiber is good for you, but too much fiber is a major diet no-no (if you’ve done it, you know what I’m talking about). Even too much sleep can backfire and hurt your health. And exercise is no exception.

In fact, trading evenings on the couch for marathon calorie-burning or muscle-pumping workouts day after day–without adequate rest–is a surefire way to burn out, hurt your performance and even get yourself injured. While everyone is different and no certain amount of exercise is automatically ”too much,” it’s recommended that you take one to two rest days a week, especially if you’re working out at a really high intensity or with heavy weights. In general, exercising for up to 90 minutes (at a moderate intensity), most days of the week is reasonable and healthy, but you should take into account your fitness level, health status and how your body responds.

You might already be aware of some of the common signs of overtraining, but sometimes the body sends more subtle signs that you’re working out too much. These signs can sometimes be so sneaky that you may not realize your workouts are causing them.

We’ve gathered seven of the unique and misdiagnosed symptoms of overtraining. While none of these is guaranteed to be caused by overtraining (always talk to your doctor), it’s possible that if you’ve been putting in lots of hours at the gym lately, your heavier workouts could be causing these less-than-healthy results.

1. Exercise leaves you exhausted instead of energized.

Exercise should make you feel good and give you an energy boost. Yes, you might feel tired or fatigued right after a tough workout, but if you leave the gym exhausted, tired or generally feeling like you could go home and take a nap, it might be a sign that you’re overdoing it. If you’re not getting that feel-good endorphin rush that’s one of the awesome by-products of being active, it’s time to take a look at your training and see what your body may be telling you!

2. You get sick easily (or it takes forever to get over a cold).

When you exercise regularly, your body is constantly spending energy and working to repair those muscles. This means that when you come in contact with a bacteria or a virus, your immune system isn’t able to give 100 percent to fighting off that cold or flu. So you get sick and can stay sick longer if you don’t give your body the time off it needs to take care of itself. Remember, your body is an amazing machine that does much more than just power your workouts!

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3. You have the blues.

Do the workouts you used to love feel more like a chore than anything else? Or do you generally feel down and unmotivated? It may seem counterintuitive since exercise has been shown to boost feel-good endorphins, but overtraining has been linked to a decrease in energy and mood. So if you have the blues, letting your muscles recover for a few days and getting really good sleep might be just what your body really needs. Of course, if you are severely depressed, see your doctor.

4. You’re unable to sleep or you can’t seem to get enough sleep.

How are you sleeping lately? Is your mind racing when your head hits the pillow? Are you unable to fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count or how tired you feel? Are you on the other end of spectrum where no matter how many hours of sleep you clock, you still feel tired? Both of these can be caused by overtraining. When you exercise too much, your body can interpret it as a stressor, sending out stress hormones like cortisol that can make going to sleep difficult. On the flip side, overtraining can actually make some people more tired than normal. Sleep is a time when the body and brain recovers, and if you’re pushing it too hard, your body might be telling you that it needs more rest that you’re giving it.

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5. You have ”heavy” legs.

You used to go out for a walk or a jog with a spring in your step! But these days? It seems as if your legs have been traded out for heavy lead; it takes a lot more effort to get going and stay going. Sound familiar? If so, overtraining may be wreaking havoc on your body. Heavy, tired and overly fatigued legs (or arms) can be caused by muscles that just haven’t had enough time to fully recharge and repair.

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6. You have a short fuse.

If the smallest things set you off or if you’re feeling more irritable than normal, it could be due to over-exercising. When we’re tired and worn down, it’s far easier to let the little stuff get to us than it would if we were well rested. Think of exercise like spending too many hours at work on a big project for weeks at a time. Sometimes you just need a vacation and a break for some rest and relaxation!

7. You’re regularly sore for days at a time.

If you have any of these signs, it’s probably worth cutting back on the intensity, frequency and/or duration of your workouts. Swap an hour run for 30 minutes of easy yoga or trade that high-intensity boot camp for a long walk with your dog. While it might seem like you’re taking time off from your fitness and weight-loss goals, you’re actually doing the opposite: You’re making yourself stronger by giving your body the rest that it’s (subtly) asking for.

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6 Simple Ways To Get Addicted To Exercise

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You’re glued to the TV, can’t be separated from your smartphone and constantly checking social media. But what about being addicted to exercise?

You’ll be surprised what a few lifestyle tweaks and a little motivation can do to transform your fitness habits. Here’s how to get addicted to exercise.

1. Pay For A Gym Membership
Signing up to a long-term contract and committing to a membership is a risky business, especially if you’re forking out hundreds to join. However, knowing that a chunk of your pay packet is going to those smiling faces at the gym is a huge incentive to get down there and make the most of your membership.

Once you’ve signed the dotted line, frame it. Seeing your goals in writing can be hugely motivating – a little reminder of what you want to achieve. Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University in California conducted a ‘goal-setting’ study of 267 participants in which she discovered that you are ‘42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.’ It creates purpose and direction – no more excuses!

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2. Give It 56 Days
56 days seems like a long time, but it’s realistic. Many have spurts of fitness motivation, which is soon quashed when they don’t see the results they hoped for. This is because a) it’s too short a time to witness progress b) they aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly yet.

Dispel the myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit – it doesn’t. The University College Londonlooked into the phenomenon of habit building with the help of 96 participants who were asked to choose an ‘everyday habit’ that they’d like to establish, and record their progress over the course of 84 days; including their success in completing the task and feelings towards it.

From the study, researchers found considerable variation according to what habit the person was practising, their health and willpower. But on average, the results suggested that it takes 56 days to form a habit, with exercise proving the most difficult to get into.

The key here is not to get disheartened; persist even when you’re not in the mood. It’s the repetitive nature of the habit that you need to master. Soon enough you’ll hate missing gym sessions and will do anything you can to catch up.

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3. Take Small Steps
Throwing yourself in at the deep end won’t work. Not only will it leave you disheartened, but it also makes you more prone to injury. If you’re a complete beginner, take small steps, focusing on the key areas you want to work on. Once you start to get frustrated by how easy your initial training is, you’ll naturally want to challenge and push yourself; but again, don’t overdo it.

To begin with, avoid high impact workouts that put excessive strain on the joints, such as running – there’s no such thing as ‘no pain, no gain.’ Instead, concentrate on exercises that are less intense, like swimming or yoga to improve flexibility.

There are thousands of training plans and guides available on the web, designed to help fitness-newbies get off on the right foot.

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4. Exercise First Thing In The Morning
Many argue that they haven’t got the time to exercise, and a way to overcome this obstacle is by embracing morning workouts. Set an earlier alarm and don’t hit snooze; in fact, don’t think at all. Just jump out of bed, don your gym gear and get moving.

Early morning workouts come with a plenitude of benefits. Not only does setting your alarm an hour earlier free up the rest of your day; it sharpens your focus, boosts your metabolic rate and improves your mood.

And to top it off, research made by the University of New South Wales also found that early exercisers are also ‘more likely to stick with a fitness regime than those who leave it until later in the day.’ If you want your fitness habit to stick, be an early bird.

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5. Go Digital and Social
Turn your social media addiction into a love for exercise. If you’re constantly posting, tweeting or checking-in, use it to your advantage by keeping friends and followers updated with your fitness progress. For some, knowing that all eyes are on them is the perfect incentive to get off the couch and on the treadmill.

If social networking isn’t your thing and you hate the thought of sharing before and after pics, make fitness apps your new gym buddy. Nike Training Club and the like are a great source of new workouts and motivation, not to mention a useful way to track your progress.

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6. Do It For Charity
If you’re stuck for a reason to drag yourself out of bed and lace up your running shoes, give purpose to your workouts by doing it for charity. Set sky-high goals and achieve the impossible, whilst raising hundreds of pounds for a cause that’s close to your heart.

There’s one danger of getting addicted to exercise, and that’s doing it for the wrong reasons. Sure you’ll look amazing, but don’t let the physical benefits drive you to workout more and more. Exercising for a charity makes it not about personal gain, but the greater good – a really empowering and fulfilling way to gain perspective and get fit in one.

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5 Reasons To Intensify Your Workout

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A regular workout routine is important for your body—but not if it’s keeping you from seeing results.

“Your body eventually adapts to the training requirements and demands placed on it,” says John Locke, owner of Fast and Fitness training facility in New York City.

Wondering if you’re suffering from workout fatigue? Locke shares some signs that it’s time to start mixing things up—starting right now.

1. You’re breezing through reps without putting in much effort.
“If a client is continuously training at the same level, your brain already prepares the body for that load,” says Locke. Therefore, your muscles won’t be as stressed, and you’ll hit a veritable plateau when it comes to improvement.

By changing things up (grabbing heavier weights, playing with tempo, doing a more challenging variation of a move), you’ll keep that stress load constant and will continue to see changes.

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2. You’re still running 3 miles in 30 minutes (or whatever your pace may be).
Are you generally running at a consistent intensity, distance or frequency without increasing or changing one of those variables? It’s time to kick things into high gear, says Locke. That could mean it’s time to start adding in speed drills or just ramping up your mileage a few days a week.

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3. Your legs feel strong—but your arms feel weak
That 7 a.m. Spin class is doing wonders for your butt and legs, but you’re still struggling to do a regular push-up. If that sounds like you, you need to add more variety and cross-training sessions to your workout regime.

Look at a week’s worth of your workouts and ask yourself: are you hitting every muscle group and are you logging cardiovascular, strength, agility and flexibility sessions? If you are that Spin junkie, think about trying a yoga or CrossFit class once a week to target your arms, chest and shoulders, too.

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4. You no longer feel breathless during your usual high-intensity interval training workout.
Once your body is used to the same routine, “it doesn’t need to expend as much energy anymore, so it conserves energy,” making you less tired, says Locke.

You’ll notice less post-workout fatigue or soreness, too, which means you’re not gonna see change. And you won’t burn as many calories—part of why you’re doing a high-intensity workout in the first place, right?

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5. You can sing along to all the words of your favorite song while working out.
No, we’re not talking about belting out some Taylor Swift in your head.

“If you can sing out loud while exercising, you’re only working out at a moderate-intensity level, max,” explains Locke. So push yourself and pick up the pace or cut the length of your recovery intervals during your next sweat session. You’ll be feeling the burn again soon.

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