After a workout, you might find yourself hungry and ready to eat a big meal. Physical activity burns calories and uses your glycogen storage leaving you feeling hungry. The more intense the activity the more hungry you will feel. But does that mean that you should listen to your body’ needs at this moment and consume as much food as it is asking you to? Should you eat more just because your body is asking for more food?
The answer to these questions is not what you are expecting. In fact, the amount of food that you should consume when you start working out is related to the goals you have in mind and are trying to achieve. Therefore if you are exercising in order to lose weight, then you need to create a healthy gap between the number of calories burned and the ones consumed.
How to eat in order to achieve specific body goals?
If you are satisfied with your body weight and all you want is to take your exercise to a higher level to improve your body functions (cardiovascular fitness for example), then you are required to increase the number of calories you consume daily, just to avoid falling above the weight you have.
On the other hand, if you are looking to lose weight, then you should increase your exercising intensity but not the amount of food consumed.
However, if you are underweight and your goal is to gain more mass, than you need to compensate for the calories burned during your workout and establish a calorie surplus for weight gain.
P.S.: ignore everyone’s advice about not needing to work out if you want to gain weight; physical activity, in this case, is to improve your fitness.
Here is how to refuel after these workouts:
1. Biking or running
This type of physical activity might delay your feeling of hunger for an hour or a bit more. However, it will use up your glycogen which means that you need to fuel up in all cases. Within 30 minutes of a biking or running session, try to consume a snack rich in carbs such as fruits or a whole-grain cereal bar. Remember this: the sooner you eat after this type of workouts, the faster you will restock your glycogen, which will give you enough stamina and energy for the upcoming session.
Swimming makes you very hungry. You will feel your appetite spike up after a swim because the water, especially if colder than your body temperature, makes it lose its heat which prevents the release of hormones that usually suppress appetite. Do not indulge in big meals; just settle for a hot drink to warm your body.
3. Strength training
Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger, and strength training is said to lower its levels in your body, which means that after such workouts, you will not feel hungry at all. However, you still must aim for a small snack, at least, to recover. Something that contains up to 15 grams of protein after one hour of strength training, is a great way to let your muscles recover.