Sure, you’re saying, I know that Henry! I’m a smart person, I understand that just because I did a half hour on the treadmill, it doesn’t mean that I can eat anything I want for dinner…but do you really understand that? How many people have you heard say, “I worked out today! I am going to have dessert!” I’m sure you’ve heard that dozens of times.
In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in, and a half hour walk on that treadmill is not burning enough calories for you to turn around and have a triple brownie sundae or a three slices of pizza and still expect to lose weight. Nope. You have to have both exercise and a good diet to make that happen…but did you know that exercising can actually make you hungrier? So you actually are reaching for more calories afterwords without even realizing it?
In a United Kingdom study of new exercisers, many participants compensated for all that new physical activity by adding 270 calories a day to their diets. This means they were losing less weight than they could have been, and sometimes for new exercisers, that’s a reason in itself to give up altogether1.
In a University of Massachusetts study, when sedentary women began to workout four days in a row, for over an hour, their appetite hormone levels changed. They began to stimulate eating-but the opposite was found in men.
What can you do to combat this? First, tell yourself that it can happen and be prepared. Have water on hand to fight those hunger cravings, and if you must give in, eat something healthy. A post-workout snack is fine, but make sure you are eating five to six small meals a day, and make sure that post workout snack has protein and good carbs. Make sure the after workout meal is planned, and not a mad dash to the cupboard or refrigerator to see what is there.
It also may help to do shorter workouts at first, rather than a long one. Try two half hour workouts, one in the morning and one in the evening, rather than an hour long workout at once1. This can help keep your metabolism up, but your brain won’t send signals that say “Oh my gosh, we’ve been working so hard, and for so long, we need to consume a lot of calories!” Stick to your mini meals and you will be fine!
1 Heaner, Martica. (2011). “Beat Your Body’s Fat Traps.” Retrieved from ABC News / Health – “Beat Your Body’s Fat Traps”