9 smart tips to avoid overeating after a hard workout

Do you end up feeling hungry post-workout? There are many causes for this. However, following these 9 tips can help you stop overeating after a workout.
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Avoid feeling hungry after a workout with these tips. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 13 Dec 2023, 08:59 am IST
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When you burn so many calories at the gym, it’s natural for your gut to crave some food. Do you also feel hungry just after your workout? If so, you are not alone. Many people find themselves overeating after a workout. This happens due to various physiological responses to exercise, which may include energy expenditure and calorie burn. However, fulfilling your body’s hunger demands could potentially offset the benefits of your workout. While normal hunger is expected post-workout, feeling so hungry that it becomes overwhelming is a problem. Follow these tips to prevent excessive eating after your exercise session.

Why do you end up overeating after workout?

After a rigorous workout session, it’s common to crave some food. First, logic comes into play: exercise burns calories and depletes glycogen stores in muscles. Due to this, your body may signal hunger to replenish the energy expended during the activity. Additionally, exercise can lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels, triggering the body to signal a need for nutrients to restore glucose balance. According to Dr Archana Batra, the elevated metabolic rate post-workout, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), can also contribute to increased hunger as the body works to recover. Apart from these very common causes, hydration and nutrient depletion can also make you feel hungry post-workout.

hungry woman
Focus on following a balanced diet to control unwanted hunger. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to stop overeating after a workout?

Since overeating post-exercise can counteract the benefits of your hard work, follow these 9 tips to control your insatiable hunger after a workout:

1. Workout before your big meal

Timing is key when it comes to managing post-workout hunger. If you experience hunger after exercising aim to schedule your exercise before one of your main meals. So if you exercise in the morning, consume a small snack when you wake up and eat a larger breakfast following your morning exercise. If you prefer exercising in the evening, opt for a nutritious dinner to mitigate excessive post-exercise hunger.

2. Stay hydrated throughout your workout

Hydration is crucial for optimal performance and can also aid in managing post-exercise hunger. Dr Batra says, “Drinking fluids before, during, and after your workout helps maintain electrolyte balance and signals your body’s hydration needs.” Additionally, having a glass of water immediately after exercising can help you distinguish between thirst and hunger, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Woman drinking water
Staying hydrated is very essential. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Opt for a balanced pre-workout meal

Fueling your body with a well-balanced meal before your workout can provide sustained energy and reduce the urge to overeat afterwards. Include a mix of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your pre-workout meal to ensure a steady release of energy during your exercise routine.

4. Incorporate protein and carbs into your meal

Including a combination of these nutrients, protein, and carbs in both your pre and post-workout meals can support your body’s recovery process and help control post-exercise hunger. Opt for nutrient-dense foods to maximise the benefits without excess calorie intake.

5. Eat fiber-rich foods

Fiber-rich foods not only contribute to overall digestive health but also promote satiety. Including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your post-workout meals can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating. These foods add bulk to your diet without adding excessive calories.

Fibre rich foods
Fibre rich foods are important in your diet. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

6. Snack smartly throughout the day

Rather than having large meals, consider eating smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. This approach can help regulate your appetite and prevent extreme hunger, making it easier to make mindful food choices after your workout. Choose healthy snacks that provide sustained energy without causing a spike in blood sugar levels.

7. Avoid overestimating the calorie burn

It’s common to overestimate the number of calories burned during a workout, leading to the misconception that you can indulge in larger meals afterward. Be mindful of your actual energy expenditure and avoid using exercise as a justification for overeating. And if you are following a weight loss workout routine, you will need to consume less calories than you burn. Always keep a fitness tracker with you to track your performance.

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8. Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating involves paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Avoid distractions like watching TV or using your phone while eating. Chew your food slowly and savor each bite. This conscious approach to eating can help you recognise when you’re satisfied, preventing mindless overeating.

mindful eating
Focus more on foods you should include than on those you should exclude. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

9. Ask yourself if you are hungry

Dr Batra says, “Before reaching for post-workout snacks, pause and assess your hunger levels. Distinguishing between true hunger and other triggers, such as boredom, thirst, or habit, can prevent unnecessary calorie intake.” If you find yourself reaching for food out of habit rather than genuine hunger, resist the urge to eat.

Also read: Feeling hungry all the time post-weight loss? 10 tips to control it

Besides following these tips, don’t forget to consume your meal at the same time every day. This will help you maintain your energy levels and control excessive hunger post-workout!

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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