You’ve just gotten home from a hard work out and are absolutely starving, that chocolate bar in the fridge looks super appetising. Half of our mind is telling us that we’ve exercised so we deserve it (right?), but the other half of us does not want us to break our healthy eating and exercise routine just yet. So what do we do?
Identify the hunger
We firstly need to recognise what sort of hunger we’re in, is it actual hunger, or is it just what we think is hunger. We’ve compiled together a few tips to help you make the best nutrition choices.
How hard did you really work?
What did you do in your workout? How hard did you work? Was it cardio based, was it weights-based? If you are doing cardio for less than one hour per day, you generally do not need to increase your daily calorie intake, but you do need to make sure you are refuelling with the right foods after your workout. We want to focus on foods that contain a good source of carbohydrates (to replenish our lost stores) and protein (to help in recovery and building of muscle). See our post on What Foods Should I Be Having After Working Out?
2. Has your stomach told your brain you're full yet?
When we feel that extremely intense hunger, we often feel like we can eat everything in sight (and sometimes will). When this happens, we often over-compensate and eat even more calories than what we’ve just burnt in our exercise session. It can take at least 20 minutes for our brains to register that we are full – and by that stage, chances are we’ve already eaten too much. To stop this from happening, make sure to be well fuelled before a workout and refuel immediately post workout. For example, having a banana before or during a training session and a small recovery smoothie right after.
3. Eat mindfully
Our bodies are fantastic at regulating themselves, but the hardest issue is being able to become aware of these fullness cues. Eat mindfully at every meal by sitting down and taking away distractions at meal times such as television, phones and computers, use a smaller plate, enjoy and savour every mouthful and chew slowly. Begin to prioritise meal times and eat a leisurely pace.
4. Plan your meals and snacks
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It’s a mantra that we all hear again and again. Planning your meals and snacks in advance can not only ensure that you choose more nutritious and healthy foods because they are already made up and available, but it also saves time, saves money and takes away the daily stress of planning meals.
5. Give your treats a healthy twist
Post exercise indulgences can often be high in calories, sugar, and not overly nutritious. If you have a craving, add a bit of extra nutrition to your usual sweet snack. Swap the bar of milk chocolate for dark chocolate coated almonds, create a chocolate “mousse” with low fat yoghurt and cacao powder or make some “nicecream” using blended frozen banana and fruit instead of having icecream.