This is a follow-up post to the TIME Magazine Rebuttal.
My original intention was to follow up with a How to Make Exercise Work For You post (which I will get to), but I decided I had lost sight of something important that should be addressed first: helping those who may overeat in response to exercise.
Although the bulk of the literature does not support the hypothesis that exercise out-and-out makes us hungrier, there are people who are prone to overcompensate with food in response to exercise.
Here are some tips on how to avert exercise-induced indulgences:
- Eat intuitively, consciously and only until you take the edge off your hunger. The hara hachi bu principle (eat only until 80% full) should become your mantra. Note that this mentality should be perpetual - applying these principals to your day-to-day life, and not just after your exercise sessions.
- Make an especially concerted effort to eat healthily and judiciously post workout. Either a solid or liquid meal as soon as possible after your session is ideal. A protein shake is nice and easy. Aim for about 0.25g per pound of target weight of protein, and about 0.5g per pound of target body weight for carbs. A solid meal works well too: an open-face tuna sandwich on whole grain bread; chicken with veggies and rice (white/brown/wild). Planning ahead is key here! When you pack for the gym, a post-workout meal should be as much a part of your checklist as your sneakers, water bottle and leg warmers (just seeing if you're paying attention).
- If you find you are ravenous after workouts, try eating anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before exercising. This can help curtail post workout munchies. The closer to your workout you eat, the less important the post-workout meal becomes - although I would still recommend at least some nutrition post-exercise. Also, keep in mind that individual comfort level is crucial here - some people feel nauseated and just plain yucky if they eat too close to a workout (many early morning exercisers can't handle a pre-workout meal of any size). Conversely, other people are perfectly fine with a substantial bolus in the gut.
- Protein up: eating adequate protein will help reduce hunger and subsequently caloric intake. Protein intake is supremely important around workouts anyhow, so it only stands to reason that it will help put the breaks on overeating after exercise sessions. Keep your protein intake somewhere around 1g per pound of target body weight.
- Most importantly (and this is somewhat of a reiteration of #1), keep tabs on your diet throughout the day. Ultimately, calorie intake over the course of the day is what matters most. If you find you aren't giving eating much of a second thought, and your health/body isn't where you would like it to be, start logging your food intake and make adjustments as necessary.