We’ve all been there: after a particularly hard workout session, we feel as if we burned at least all the calories we’ve indulged in during the past week. As a result, the only next ‘logical’ step is to treat ourselves to a little snack or sweet treat because we’ve most definitely earned it. But is this method foolproof? Well, as the majority of nutritionists put it, not really. In fact, people who binge eat after exercising have a greater chance of putting all those hard burned calories right back on…and then some! Nevertheless, there are some very effective tricks which can be employed to both stay clear of overeating and still satisfy your hunger in a healthy, waist-friendly, and mood-boosting way. So, in order to become in better control of your overall weight, here is how to avoid post-workout overeating in 11 easy steps:

Protein + carbs = perfect combination

While mixing protein with carbohydrates might sound like a recipe for slimming down ‘gone wrong’, it has been scientifically proven that resorting to the aforementioned pairing can actually result in better weight loss results. To obtain maximum efficiency, try to aim for a 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs while also keeping your treat within the 130-180 calories range. This way, you’ll both restore your muscle mass and refill your internal energy fuel without being in danger of overeating post-training. Some good choices include – but are not limited to – a serving of trail mix, cheese on crackers and turkey slices, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (open faced), etc. In addition, you can choose a protein shake or an energy bar to meet such munching needs if you’ve been exercising for more than an hour and you aren’t eating a hearty meal in the near future (because, in this particular instance, you should be getting 1 gram of carbs for every 2 pounds you weigh in order to avoid binge eating afterward).

Don’t skip on snacks

If you’ve had a good training session followed by a satiating meal, then you can skip your other snacks to ‘save up’ on calories for the day, right? Wrong. Even though it might sound exactly like what you shouldn’t be doing in order to shed pounds, having a set of regular treats spread out all throughout the day can indeed prevent you from binge eating and gaining weight in the long run. Thus, healthy and mindful snacking can bring you a wide variety of benefits, from fewer sugars spikings and increased energy levels to better moods and enhanced metabolic rates. As a consequence, a good internal balance will permit you to stay clear of post-training binging and still satiate your hunger throughout the day. With fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, and other wholesome options at hand, 2-3 snacks distributed at regular intervals will help you stay full, maintain your nutrient intake within normal levels, and substantially decrease the urge to eat after exercising.

Forget about eating as a ‘habit’

While it’s really easy to get into the habit of indulging in a post-workout treat every day, it’s also true that this custom can lead to more pound gaining than calories you’re overall burning during the training itself. Although a smoothie, let’s say, isn’t in itself a bad snack, having one regardless of how intense and demanding your actual workout has been can have unwanted long-term consequences on your waist and approach to exercising alike. In a sense, you mind ending up overeating while still staying healthy, which is clearly what should be avoided here. To kick this potentially negative routine, keep in mind that diversity is your friend, especially when it comes to after-training snacking. Secondly, try to approximate your treat size by how sweat-heavy the physical activity really was, so as to not pile up on unnecessary calories. By also ruling out factors such as stress eating, emotional eating or (over) self-indulgence, you’ll be able to keep away from post-training ‘temptations’.

Exercise, then eat

In all fairness, a really good workout can make your stomach growl like never before, so start off by arranging your main meals and snacks around your training schedule to make the best out of both at the same time. In the end, you’re going to feel hungry each time you exercise while a more consistent dish will leave you wanting to hit the gym to burn those extra calories faster, so why not combine the two wisely? Hence, by going through your physical routine first and then enjoying a satisfying meal, you’ll both compensate for the energy you’ve consumed during working out and also avoid binge-eating later on in the day or afternoon. And don’t worry if your routines aren’t all that consistent – this technique can be easily employed with breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime meals alike. Not to mention that you’ll never feel guilty about indulging in a satiating meal ever again since the pounds will only continue to decrease in scale numbers.

Dairy is your friend

What could be more refreshing and satiating than a nice glass of cold milk after a demanding training session? Well, as nutritionists agree upon, following an exercising routine with a dairy snack can be just the trick for better energy levels, refueled protein readings, and a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Not only will a glass of low-calorie chocolate milk keep you happy and lively until your next meal, but it can actually restore your balance much better than the majority of commercially distributed sports drinks. One possible reason behind this surprising result might be the fact that these latter beverages usually contain extra flavors, additives, and preservatives, which don’t usually make for a healthy energy boost in the long run. On the other hand, chocolate milk can completely satisfy your protein, liquid, and taste needs after exercising, so you won’t have to worry about eating too much later in the day.

Transform training into something enjoyable

One of the major problems with exercising as a whole is either the boring or chore-like factor. For some, hitting the gym or going to aerobic classes 4-6 times a week can quickly transform into an undesirable routine while another recoil internally just at the thought of having to go through all that effort yet again. Regardless of how the notion of working out has come to impact you, it’s important to re-learn how to approach it with and open heart and mind for optimal weight loss results to still show up over time. As any professional nutritionist and/ or fitness expert will tell you, having a positive and optimistic outlook on your routine physical activity can make all the difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ training sessions (with the ‘bad’ version generally leading to emotional eating afterward). By ‘spicing’ up your workouts, taking up a new class or bringing a friend to join you, you can actively avoid overindulging in food after a particularly demanding session, as well as create a better mindset for yourself on the long run.

Remember: technology might fail you

If you like to be in tune with the latest technology involving fitness, then you must have heard of or maybe even own an activity tracker. This small device promises to keep count of basically your every move throughout the day, from step counting and heart rate to your regular sleeping hours. Brands such as Misfit, Fitbit, Garmin or Jawbone promise accurate 24/7 readings to thus allow you for a better calorie-burning watch and subsequent food portion control both pre and post training. But how accurate are these activity trackers after all? According to a study conducted in 2014 by specialists at the Iowa State University, even the best such pieces of technology had error margins of up to 24%, which could then potentially translate into larger food portions after seemingly more intense workouts over time. So, instead of relying on a bunch of numbers from a screen, aim to become more in tune with your own organism. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, don’t overindulge after training, and you’ll ultimately lose weight in a practically effortless way.

Always stay properly hydrated

It’s pretty much common knowledge that a hydrated organism will generate better digestive patterns, increased metabolism, and a more balanced mood, more so in the context of intense exercising. Since a good amount of liquid is lost by the body through perspiration during exercising, you need to drink enough water post-training so as to not mistake thirst for hunger and thus overdo the calories. Furthermore, filling up your stomach can also act as an appetite suppressor and ‘accustom’ your metabolic rhythms to enhanced burning rates and better internal energy. Again – as with any fitness related aspect – the crucial aspect is moderation: believe it or not, drinking too many fluids can lead to water intoxication (because of dangerously lowered sodium readings). All in all, make sure you stay within normal hydration levels for effective fat shedding and reduced bingeing episodes in the future.

Think twice before you munch

Let’s face it: most of our eating habits are basically caused by boredom. From midday treats to late-night snacks during TV commercials, it’s far too easy to give into the allure of comfort food when we feel like something’s ‘missing’. In relation to exercising routines, the same habitual snacking that follows physical activity can become the culprit behind diminished weight loss results in the long run. In reality, it’s all pretty simple to manage: if you’re training constantly, then eating properly and remembering to snack when needed is absolutely necessary; if you’re on a training break, then ask yourself – am I hungry or have I nothing better to do instead? The same scenario can be applied even to a post-workout scenario, when you might or might not actually be that famished after all. Therefore, by giving your eating impulses a second thought, you’re actively reducing the intensity of your cravings and keeping away from excessive munching.

Keep your energy levels up

When you’re really committed to extending your workout session past the 2-hour mark, then you’ll need to keep your nutrient intake and overall mood balanced good enough so as to avoid post-training bingeing altogether. For instance, going for a long bike ride, participating in a marathon or simply staying longer at the gym all require some sort of refueling on-the-go. The most practical options are energy gels and energy drinks, which will saturate your glycemic readings, sustain your metabolism, adequately hydrate you, and ward off against intense hunger after the session is over. With a boost of just 120-140 calories after the first hour, you can significantly reduce cravings and give you a better mental state to continue the rest of your training. A ‘kick’ of carbs and nutrients during exercising will prevent your body from wanting such substances once you’re done, so be sure to listen to your organism’s cues in time for better fat shedding results

Approximate wisely

Did your workout session leave you trying to catch your breath and sweating like a pig by the end of it all? Do you feel like you’ve burned a ton of calories during this particular routine? Is that burger or ice cream cup looking all the more delicious since you just know you’ve burned so much fat through an intense training? Well, chances are you haven’t dropped as many calories as you might think you did – no matter how gruesome the physical activity actually was – so don’t munch into those fatty or sugary dishes just yet. As one experiment conducted by a team from the University of Ottawa showed people who were asked to replenish the calories they’ve burned through working out wound up consuming up to 2-3 times the amount they had previously metabolized through physical activity. The key in this instance is to always aim for estimating lower quantities after each training session, so as to avoid binge-eating and damaging your overall fitness progress.

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