You often feel hungrier after your workout than you did before it. This makes sense, because you are burning more calories.
When you are sedentary and sitting you probably burn on average, between 1,800 and 2,300 calories each day. You did this simply by sitting in your office chair, walking to your car, reclining on your sofa while watching TV and just breathing, with little physical activity.
Those average calorie counts expended each day are typical for the modern adult man or woman. Now you have started to become active. That’s a great thing. Exercise combined with smart nutrition is an unbeatable way to get healthier from head to toe, mentally and physically.
When people start working out and exercising, they can become “health fanatics”. Again, this is a good thing. You are putting aside your sedentary lifestyle to improve your quality of life. Congratulations on that.
There is a problem though. Unfortunately, too many beginning exercise fanatics decide they will drastically limit their calorie intake at the same time. This puts your body in starvation mode, and can actually cause you to retain fat and not burn it.
Aside from limiting your results, it means you are hungry all the time. Especially after a workout, where you could have expended 300, 500 or 700 calories. Your mind is going to be screaming for nutrition, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and calories.
If your exercise leaves you so hungry you could eat a horse, you may not be getting enough pre-exercise nutrition and healthy carbs. You may also believe that a single exercise session will offset a big-sized, fast food combo nightmare free of nutrition, tons of calories and unhealthy carbs.
Checking out the Science
A lot of people eat too much after working out. This is simply the truth. You may not even think you are overeating. However, science shows that for every 10 cal you burn, you have a biological compensation for 3 or 4 cal. This is referring to the time right after your exercise. You are going to eat another couple of times during the day at least, so you will eventually give your body the calories it needs to function properly, accounting for the fat-burning weight loss, muscle building or other physical benefits you are looking for.
A natural human tendency is to believe your fitness efforts are more successful than they actually are, you may think you have burned a lot more calories and fat than you actually did. Psychiatrists call this reward psychology. This is usually the mindset of beginners starting exercise for the first time, or returning to fitness.
The mindset is this.
I have just worked out strenuously for 60 minutes. If I reward myself with some type of tasty treat which may not be that healthy, that is a good thing. I am rewarding positive behavior, exercising. I am getting a taste of something I really love, even though it is probably not too good for me. All of my exercise will help offset that unhealthy reward, and then some.
The problem is the misconception of how much your exercise has impacted your body. In one important study, weight loss subjects were asked to report their own meal consumption and exercise efforts. Even with individuals who were not prone to overeating, the average subject believed he or she ate 47% less than they actually did. Those test subjects also claimed to be working out approximately 51% more than they did.
The only way to guarantee you are not eating too much after a workout is to keep a journal. Log every minute of your exercise efforts, and every single crumb that goes into your mouth. If your fitness efforts are not getting you where you want to be, and more importantly, if they are heading in the wrong direction, it may be because you are over-eating post-workout.