Working out to get a fit, lean body is only as successful as the food you put into it. You may diet and eat right for most of the day, but come a grueling workout that burns through an enormous amount of calories, you may find yourself famished and ready to attack any and all food in sight. You may even feel deserving of that extra indulgence— after all you just burned through a ton of calories.
Unfortunately, you are more likely to eat more calories than you burned, and that hard workout you just spent your time on could go right out the window. Putting an end to the post-workout indulgence starts with following a better plan of attack. Read ahead for seven ways to stop your post-workout indulgence, make better food choices and get the results you want.
1. Plan Your Post-Workout Meal
If you are serious about your fitness goals, you should know that eating immediately post-workout is super important. If you have not planned on bringing food with you, you will be much more likely to binge on the first food you see when you go home! If you are heading out for a bite after your workout, be sure to pick a healthy restaurant with plenty of healthy options. Pick a protein, like chicken, a clean carb, such as quinoa, brown rice or baked potato, along with a fresh greens salad or a side of green veggies. If you are heading to work after your morning workout, be sure to pack your breakfast, make a protein pancake and skip out on the muffin!
2. Avoid the Grocery Store Post-Workout
The grocery store can be your friend and your enemy if you are not careful. Post-workout hunger can lead to diet meltdown, and you could end up grabbing anything and everything you can get your hands that looks tempting. Instead of waiting till the moment you need food, go to the grocery store at a more opportune time when your tummy is fully satisfied. If you must go to the grocery store post-workout, do yourself a favor and stay away from the inner aisles; shop only around the perimeter of the store where the healthy, whole food is located.
3. Don’t Forget to Eat Before Your Workout
Going to the gym hungry not only makes you more hungry, but you will also deplete your energy levels to a point that your body might resort to tapping into your hard-earned muscles for fuel. If you want to make sure your energy levels are up to get through an intense workout, you need to eat the right food before you train. Pre-workout is the time to get in some energizing carbs and protein. Consider having a protein smoothie. Combine your favorite flavor of whey protein with berries, flaxseed and a small serving of oatmeal for good measure.
4. Supplement Properly
Sipping on branched-chain amino acids or whey isolate during your workout can help stop post-workout hunger since you are feeding your muscles what they need during your workout. As you work out, your body burns through nutrients to fuel your muscle contractions, this causes a shift in your muscles’ nitrogen balance. When your muscle nitrogen drops, muscle-building shuts off and muscle breakdown can start to occur. Keeping your aminos elevated ensures your muscles have what they need to stay in a positive nitrogen balance and keep muscle building turned on. Sipping on protein or aminos can also have a satiating effect, blocking hunger hormones that can stimulate appetite. Try a serving of powder BCAAs or whey isolate that is naturally high in BCAAs to keep your muscles and appetite satisfied.
5. Eat the Right Foods Post-workout
When you finish up after the gym, be sure you have the right food you need to replenish your body and kick-start recovery. A handful of nuts is just not going to cut it. Post-workout your body needs two things— protein and carbs, and in the right ratios. Eat about 20 grams of protein with about 40 grams of carbs. This ratio can ensure optimal nutrient uptake. For maximum post-workout results, down a quick shake using a fast-digesting whey protein, along with a couple of rice cakes within the first hour post-workout. Then, eat a proper meal again, within a few hours. This method has been shown to help maximize muscle replenishment and efficiently kick-start muscle rebuilding processes.
6. Curb Post-Workout Cravings
While it is definitely true that post-workout your body is depleted of glycogen— the stored form of carbohydrates in the muscle— it is more than likely that your glycogen is not low enough to warrant a heavy carb up! For one thing, women tend to hold on to glycogen stores more tightly, and actually access fat more efficiently during workouts. Most of us tend to overindulge post-workout because we didn’t eat enough before, and secondly because we overestimate how many calories we actually burned off. Instead of giving into that plate of pasta, fries or pizza you have been craving, try resisting the urge and instead make a healthier version of what you are craving. Try making a cauliflower crust pizza, eat a small portion of whole wheat or vegetable pasta, or try making baked sweet potato fries.
7. Think Before You Eat
If you are serious about your fitness goals, and want to build some muscle and burn off fat, you need to make the most out of your workout, and that means no post-workout binging. What you feed your body is what you get back out. If you choose to overindulge post-workout instead of eating what your body really needs, you will not help facilitate the recovery process, which in the long run means less lean hard muscle and more fat. Think about the time and effort you spend building and shaping your body— why would give your body anything but the foods that help nourish, support your metabolism and help build lean muscle!