It makes sense for people to start forming great exercise routines to better their health, yet they often find themselves getting hungrier and eating more. It’s not hard to eat the calories you have burnt off so often this can even lead to weight gain or can prevent weight loss, if that is the goal. It may take an hour to burn 300 calories but only 5 minutes to eat them. It makes sense that you have worked hard and hence you will be hungry after a work-out. If you have gained extra muscle mass then you will also likely be hungrier throughout the day as muscle uses more energy to maintain itself. This is why exercise alone will not assist with weight loss.
Tips to get around your increased appetite
1. Make sure your meals are satisfying
If your activity levels and muscle mass have increased, a simple garden salad without any carbohydrate and with only a tiny amount of protein may not cut it anymore. Ensure your main meals are adequately filling so that you won’t be ravenous half an hour later. Add a slice of wholegrain bread as well as the small portion of protein – legumes, nuts, tuna.
2. Plan your snacks and make them lower kilojoule, higher fibre
If you are finding yourself hungry between meals, make sure you have nutritious snacks at hand. High fibre snacks will help to keep you fuller for longer and can assist in meeting your nutritional requirements e.g. a small handful of nuts, chopped vegetables, Ryvita biscuits with tomato and avocado, roasted chick peas, tin of tuna, fruit.
3. Have a pre-gym snack
Many people do not want to negate all of the hard work they are about to do by eating before exercising. However, if you’re working-out on an empty stomach then you’re not likely to work as hard and your muscles will potentially fatigue earlier. It will also increase your chances of being much hungrier afterwards, which can lead to over-eating. A small snack like a tub of yoghurt or a tuna + legume ready to go snack will provide you with the protein and carbohydrate to get you through your work-out.
4. Trial five smaller meals across the day as opposed to three main meals
If you find you are now generally hungrier across the whole day, try changing your routine of three main meals to three smaller mains (still containing fibre, carbohydrate and protein) with two nutritious snacks in-between. Or you can split your meals up e.g. if you have oats with fruit and nuts in the morning, remove the nuts and have them as a mid meals snack instead. This way you are not actually eating any more but you are spacing your intake out.
5. Make sure you are not rewarding yourself post-workout
Yes you have done a good thing and worked very hard, but no this does not mean you can have a slice of cake or a giant smoothie. The odd treat won’t hurt, but be careful it is not becoming a regular occurrence and therefore sabotaging you weight loss attempts/ making you gain weight.
6. Ensure you have had enough fluid
If you are dehydrated then your body may be confusing hunger with thirst. Have a drink with your snack.
7. Do not attempt a restrictive diet
Attempting to increase physical activity and follow a restrictive diet will only end in disaster. You will likely hit a breaking point where you have deprived yourself so much and have put up with so much hunger that you will end up binging on a large quantity of food. This is not a realistic, maintainable approach and will likely leave you feeling very defeated and discouraged. Aim instead to use the tips above, follow a balanced diet, and continue to exercise. If you are still struggling, seek advice from a professional.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about nutrition, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!