Rich Weil, M.Ed., CDE
Are you hungry after exercise? That’s a problem if you’re looking to lose or maintain your weight and don’t want the extra calories, but know that exercise is a must. After all, what’s the point of exercising to control your weight if all you’re going to do is be famished afterward? Studies are mixed if exercise increases appetite. Some show it increases appetite, some show it decreases it, and some show no change. Your own experience is your best bet. If you’re hungry after exercise, consider the following:
1) When was your last meal or snack before your workout? If it was more than 3 or 4 hours, and your workout is an hour, then it’s been 4 or 5 hours since you last ate anything so you will naturally be hungry. Then add calorie-burning exercise to the mix and your body will crave calories, making you hungry to satisfy the need and desire.
2) Are you dehydrated? You may go in search of food when all you really are is thirsty. Of course, if you’re dehydrated to begin with, and exercise dehydrates you more, then matters will only get worse. Have 8 ounces of water right after your workout before you reach for food. That will help.
3) If you’ve eaten or snacked within 3-4 hours of your workout, and you’re hungry after working out, then check the nutrient content of your food. If all you had is lemon ices, then you’re going to be hungry. Your snack or meal should contain some carbohydrate and
protein. Protein increases satiety, the carbs will boost your energy for the workout.
Watch your hydration status and experiment with the timing and content of your snacks and meals in relation to when you work out if you’re hungry after exercise but you don’t want to be. Of course, if you don’t mind the extra calories after a tough workout, then by all means, enjoy it!