For fat loss, it’s easier to push away from the table than hit the treadmill.
We’re going to look at how exercise affects your appetite, and how this relates to sticking to your goals.
Imagine that you’ve just finished a tough workout.
Your legs feel like jelly from the squats, and you can barely lift your arms, thanks to the pullups. You sweated hard enough to drench a t-shirt if you manage to keep it on.
Now it’s postworkout fuelling time. Surely all that butt-busting earned you a hearty meal.
Or did it?
Many people eat enough after training to cancel out the fat loss from exercise altogether wholly.
All that time in the gym, down the drain. Ouch.
Why “working it off” doesn’t work
But don’t take our word for it.
Let’s do some maths.
Let’s take a 30-year-old, 6-foot, 200 lb man.
His basal metabolic rate (BMR) is 2022.4 calories per day. BMR is the energy required to stay alive: breathing, digestion, etc. That means he’s expending about 84 calories an hour merely lying in bed.
If he goes out and jogs for an hour, he uses 726 calories. So, he’s expended 642 more calories than he would have done just by sleeping. This is a great start.
But let’s say that after his workout, he’s hungry and goes out for lunch. He worked out, so he thinks he “earned” a Big Mac (562 calories) and fries (384 calories).
That’s 946 calories… Three hundred four calories are more than he just used for exercise.
You can’t out-run poor choices
So what can you do about this?
- Understand your own body and behaviour. Do you want to eat more after exercise? Or feel like you should? Or that you earned it, regardless of whether you’re hungry? Maybe like you “deserve a treat” for “doing the chore” of exercise?
- Change your expectations about what exercise should do for you. Use won’t erase poor choices.
- Recognise the proper role of exercise in a fat loss program. Exercise is not as good as most people think of “burning calories.” Exercise is a lot more like an air traffic controller that tells nutrients where to go and what to do — aka “nutrient partitioning”.
- Understand that it’s a lot easier to eat a little bit less than to “work it off”.
- Make nutrition decisions based on YOUR physical cues and evidence. Don’t make nutrition decisions out of fear or because “everyone else does it”. Sure, you might be worried about running out of energy. Sure, other runners might “carb-up”. Follow what your body needs, and the right principles you’ve already learned as part of PN Coaching.
- Focus on eating to 80% full at each meal, no matter how much you rocked that workout.
- Also focus on having fun in your workout, rather than making it into a dreadful chore than you then get to “compensate” for. If you’re not enjoying physical movement, find another way to move.
Recognise that you might want and like food more when you’re active.
Your brain might try all kinds of rationalisations to encourage you to eat more. You’ll have to face a bit of extra discomfort when sticking to the plan.
That’s OK — we know you can handle it.
Here’s the good news:
You can change.
Keep practising your good habits, and you’ll change your appetite. You’ll improve your expectations. And you’ll even rewire your brain and change your appetite signals.
As always, stick with a little bit of short-term discomfort, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.
Today, if your brain clamours for a post-workout treat, remind it of your Discomfort Deal and stick to your guns.