when I exercise I eat more and fail to lose weiThere are many reasons to avoid exercising, in the past I used them all, since becoming a lifestyle coach I’ve heard them all! The problem is the reasons are often excuses, and while we may fully believe that the reasons are valid and true, usually they are neither. Many of my clients have truly and honestly said to me ‘Exercise Makes Me Hungry, therefore ght.’ Is this true? Does exercising make us physically hungry or are we feeding an emotional urge? Read on to find the smartest way to satisfy physical hunger and to silence emotional hunger.
The Truth About Exercise And Hunger
Physical activity/exercising actually lead to a decrease in the production of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates our hunger. This is great news! Exercise does not stimulate hunger it suppresses hunger. In fact exercising also lowers our response to cues to eat. Exercise lessens our desire to eat by altering how parts of our brain respond to the sight of food. These are the scientific facts and we can’t argue with science, right? Why then do so many of us believe that Exercise Makes Me Hungry?
Why Do We Feel Hungry When We Exercise?
Over many years I have coached hundreds of clients to lose fat and to live a healthier lifestyle. These people have been all ages, male and female and from all walks of life, with one thing in common. Without exception they all comfort eat. I too was an emotional eater for many years, so I speak from my own experience and the experience of the people I have coached. When we begin a new activity, start a new exercise regime or intensify our current workout plan both our body and mind experience stress. If all our lives our habit has been to eat when stressed, it is not surprising that when we exercise our urge is also to eat. The answer is not to stop exercising but rather to instil new habits.
- Plan your workouts around your main meals so that you are due to eat after you exercise. This strategy will work whether you are a morning, noon or night time exerciser. For morning have a small snack when you wake up and a larger breakfast after your morning activity. Or have a small mid-morning snack, workout at lunchtime and have a large healthy lunch afterwards. Or prepare your evening meal ahead of time, so that it is ready quickly when you come in from your evening class. Even after exercising you do not require a large evening meal.
- Drink water while you are exercising and more as soon as you are done. Exercise classes, runs, swims, cycles etc. only require water for rehydration. Avoid calorie loaded energy drinks, soda’s and even diet sodas. Stick with still, filtered water. It’s cheap and it is all your body requires.
We Deserve A Reward Versus A Reward We Deserve!
As comfort eaters we also reward ourselves with food, and we certainly deserve a reward after the hard work and effort we put into our workout! We see posts all over social media saying ‘I run for cake’ or ‘I work out for wine’, and while our intelligent self knows the message is ‘tongue in cheek’ our vulnerable self will justify the eating of cake or the drinking of wine because of the workout. When we exercise like crazy and then eat poorly we negate all the hard work that we have put in. The result of enjoying our ‘well deserved reward’ is a wasted workout!
- Ask yourself ‘What Reward Do I Actually Deserve?’
- Reward yourself with a fat loss result on the scales.
- A new outfit when you reach clothes size target.
- Put money in a jar every time you complete a good workout and save for a pampering weekend away.
- Have a massage to ease your achy muscles.
- Focus on a non-food reward that motivates you.
Don’t Overestimate Your Calorie Burn
I must have burned a thousand calories. On the flip side not eating when your body needs it is also a bad habit with costly results.
- Eat regularly throughout the day.
- Lean, fresh, seasonal, one ingredient foods are best.Activity trackers have become a trendy way to estimate physical activity expenditure throughout the day, and many people who use them find that they act as a motivator. However studies have found that not all devices are accurate in estimating calorie burn during workouts, the least accurate device having an error rate of 23.5%. Even the most accurate trackers can still only provide an estimate of true calorie burn. In order to achieve fat loss we must achieve a calorie deficit. Therefore if we consume extra calories because the tracker says so it may lead to an excess in calories and a fat gain. Even without using a tracker we tend to overestimate our energy expenditure during workouts. I know I’ve left spin classes or personal training feeling like
- Don’t overestimate the portion your body requires.
- Avoid processed foods and foods with artificial ingredients.
Throwing ourselves into activity for periods of time, then having periods when we do nothing is a lot like yo-yo dieting and can have similar effects on our body. Certainly weight loss and gain can be a result, but this habit can also result in muscle strain, injury, joint problems and over eating. Participating in extreme exercise regimes that are impossible to maintain can result in comfort or reward eating. Followed by bouts of no exercise and feelings of guilt for not exercising again may lead to emotional eating. It makes it difficult to settle into good eating habits.
- Exercise at a frequency and level that you can maintain FOREVER!
- Stop comparing yourself to others, do what you do.
- Do not say ‘I’m an all or nothing person’ it is an excuse to do nothing.
- Find an activity that you enjoy and exercise will never be a drudge again.
Exercise Makes Me Hungry NOT!
While exercise may lead to feelings of emotional hunger it’s good to know that there are ways to combat these feelings. We have more control over our bodies and minds than we give ourselves credit for. Practice the steps I have given you hear and do comment to let me know how it works for you. Please feel free to share Exercise Makes Me Hungry or any of my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter or any social media that you use.