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People tend to eat more after exercise: Study finds out why and how to fight this habit

Working out is not enough to lose weight, you also need to keep a track of what to eat and avoid pre and post workout. © Shutterstock

For many, weight loss is a main motivation for exercising, but failure to achieve the desired results can make you likely to quit exercising. Physical exertion can entice you to more after exercise. Here's some tips to optimize weight loss through exercise.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : April 10, 2021 8:56 AM IST

Over 4 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The global prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents aged 5 19 years increased more than four-fold from 4 per cent in 1975 to 18 per cent in 2016, as per its estimates. You are overweight if your body mass index (BMI) is over 25, and obese if it is over 30. Excessive fat accumulation in the body can lead to many health problems. In fact, obesity is considered the mother of all diseases. It is linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. The more weight a person has, the higher the risk of developing these health issues and losing weight is the best way to decrease the risk. Millions of people are also trying to lose weight for cosmetic reasons. Diet (that is reducing the number of calories you eat) and exercise (which helps increase metabolism, or calories you burn in a day) are the key to weight loss and maintaining it. But people also tend to eat more after exercise compared to when they don't exercise.

Why people eat more after exercise?

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Nebraska (USA) have investigated and explained this link for the first time. People overeat after physical activity because they want to reward themselves and their bodies for being active said Prof. K hler, Professor of Exercise, Nutrition and Health at the Technical University of Munich.

In a study, the researchers randomly assigned 41 healthy participants (23 women, 18 men) aged between 19 and 29 years with an average BMI of 23.7 to either a 45-minute exercise session or a rest period of equal duration. They found a greater increase in the amount of food chosen as well as food consumption, both immediately after exercise and 30 minutes afterwards.

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How to optimize weight loss through exercise

The study findings suggested that physical exertion can entice those who do sport to eat larger amounts of food more quickly after the training session. So, it could it helpful to think about what you want to eat afterwards before you start to exercise, asserted Prof. K hler.

For many, weight loss is a main motivation for exercising, but failure to achieve the desired results can make them likely to quit exercising. Thus, finding the best strategies to optimize weight loss through exercise is important and this is what the scientist team are now working on.

Foods to avoid after exercise

Working out is not enough to lose weight, you also need to keep a track of what to eat and avoid pre and post workout. Choose foods that are dense in nutrients and can help you to stay active and avoid foods that can leave you feeling sluggish post workout. All your hard work may go in vain if you choose the wrong recovery foods. Your post-workout meal should contain a healthy mix of carbs and protein. Here are 10 foods to avoid eating after a workout to achieve your fitness goals.

Soda drink: Sipping a high-fructose soft drink during and after exercise can cause dehydration and may put you at the risk of acute kidney injury (AKI), revealed a study by researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York.

Salty snacks: Avoid eating potato chips and other salty snacks post workout as too much salt can raise the sodium levels above the recommended amount and increase you risk of blood pressure and other serious problems. They are also low in potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are key electrolytes that help the body recover post workout.

Fried foods: Intake of fried foods after exercise can make you feel sluggish rather than enjoying the post-workout high as they have high-fat content. Eating high-fat food can also slow down your digestion process and delay the absorption of much-needed nutrients. It is also not advisable to eat spicy foods right after your workout as they are difficult to digest.

Candies and pastries: Sugary candy is a no-no after the workout as it is filled with refined sugar. It is important to replenish your glycogen levels after intense exercise, but candies are not the best way to go about it. Energy bars are not a healthy option either, they are actually candy bars in disguise. Stay away from those delicious doughnuts and pastries as well, they are fat-and-sugar bombs.

Pre-packaged shakes: Usually pre-packaged shakes are filled with additives and a ton of sugar. Make the recovery shake at home, keeping the portion size and sugar content in healthy range, to refuel those muscles after the workout.

Low-carb meals: Your body needs carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores to refuel yourself for the next workout. Having low-carb meal can leave you under-recovered. Eat foods that are good sources of carbohydrates like whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and fruits after a gruelling exercise.

Alcohol: Drinking post the workout can dehydrate you and reduce production, which is essential for muscle repairing. If you must indulge, make sure you eat a healthy recovery snack first and drink a lot of water so that your muscles stay hydrated.

High-fibre food: You should not eat high fibre foods, like salads with flax seeds and kale, post the workout. Such food may result in bloating and cramping.

Raw vegetables: Vegetables are packed with many essential nutrients, rich in fibre, and low in calories. But they are not a good post-workout meal as they lack carbs, healthy fat and protein - the nutritional basics of post-workout meal.

Do not skip your post-workout meal

If you don't eat after working out, your muscles won't be able to repair themselves, leaving them prone to further damage next time you exercise. Remember, your recovery meal should be an important part of your exercise routine. Berries, eggs, cereal, boiled chicken, sweet potatoes, curds, blended nuts, avocados and whole grain bread are good post-workout food options. Exercise helps burn calories, but your body also loses a considerable amount of water as sweat. So, it is important to hydrate yourself post workout. To replenish the lost water content, you can drink coconut water, ordinary water, organic product juices and electrolytes. This will also help avert muscle issues, queasiness and exhaustion, as well as prevent you from gorging on unhealthy snacks.

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