Exercise makes you happy, healthy, sexy, and, unfortunately—really, really hungry. Back when I had the time to log many workouts every week, I fought constantly not to eat back all the calories I burned. Sometimes I was successful, other times—like the day I came back from a lunchtime power yoga class to find a monster brownie on my desk—not so much. You want to fuel your body when you work out of course, but not with mammoth brownies or seconds of pasta, or giant protein shakes you could swim in. A better idea: Understand the source of your raging appetite. Exercise is believed to trigger the release of a hunger-boosting hormone called ghrelin (it sounds like gremlin for a reason). It’s meant to protect the body from losing too much weight too quickly, but considering most gyms practically have a food court these days, that’s not a danger most of us face. Here’s how I keep the ghrelins at bay:
Snack First, Sweat Later
Twenty minutes later, to be exact. Exercising on an empty stomach lowers blood sugar, which can increase your appetite so you inhale your food later. You can always go for that pre-workout stalwart, a banana, but I’m not a huge fan, so I reach for about 4 ounces of yogurt or another carb-rich snack instead.
Take Preemptive Notes
Writing down everything you consume is a proven way to lose weight, but try this trick: Do it before you eat. Seeing what you’re about to put in your mouth—on paper—gives you instant perspective. Case in point: “Turkey sandwich plus two bags of chips plus a soda plus five of those cookies my co-worker brought it.” Would you eat all that? I think not.
Drink Lots of Water—On the Rocks
Studies show people who drink water regularly eat 200 fewer calories a day. (Here are some other sneaky tips to get rid of extra calories.) If you make it ice-cold, you may even burn extra calories without trying—researchers in Germany found that drinking six glasses of ice water a day can raise you metabolism by 50 calories. I’ll drink (a whole lotta frigid H20) to that!
What’s your favorite workout snack? How do you keep postworkout hunger under control? Please tell me your tricks!
Start Eating Better Today:
by Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, PREVENTION, on Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:53am PDT