Can I Eat More If I Work Out?
Ooh here’s a good one!
Usually, when we’re trying to lose weight the first thing we do is increase our exercise but what we eat has a far bigger impact on our weight and a common mistake a lot of people make if they’re not tracking their food is that they increase their exercise but also, what they eat!
More activity means you’re often hungrier and without even realising it you eat more, undoing the calorie burn benefit of the extra exercise you’re doing.
In fact, some people believe exercising more means you CAN eat more without negatively impacting the positive progression of your health. That’s especially true when they consider the calories and nutrients lost through intense and frequent exercise.
A combination of a balanced diet, a consistent exercise routine, and a stable sleep schedule is ideal when it comes to improving the current status of your health. Yet, there’s a point at which diet and exercise intertwine and make matters a bit more complicated.
Below, we’ll discuss the role that losing calories and nutrients plays in the amount of food you should be eating on days you work out.
Replacing Lost Calories
No matter what type of exercise you’re participating in, you’re burning a set number of calories based on how long and how intensely you perform the exercise.
When you burn more calories than you’re consuming throughout the average day, you’ll experience weight loss. That’s great if you’re looking to lose weight, but it’s not so great if you’re trying to build muscle and strength.
What if weight loss isn’t your goal?
To maintain your weight on days that you exercise, you’ll need to be taking in as many calories as you’re burning through exercise which means upping your calories on exercise days!
You should try to limit the extra calories to about how many calories you burned during your workout in order to maintain your current weight. A few extra or a few less won’t make much of a difference but being a few hundred calories off can make you gain or lose weight!
Eating More Nutrients to Refuel
When you exercise, your body is using carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to provide you with the energy you need to complete your workout. Additionally, your body loses electrolytes like sodium and potassium when you exercise intensely.
After you’re done with your workout, it’s incredibly important that you replace the nutrients you lost during exercise and supply your body with the fuel it needs to continue on with your day.
Though that means eating more over the course of your day, it also means eating the right food. The “extra” food that you’re eating on days in which you work out should be nutrient-dense and help to return your body to its natural state.
You can eat more during the day if you’re burning calories and losing nutrients during exercise, but there are quite a few limitations.
But working out doesn’t enable you to consume unhealthy foods and not experience the negative health consequences associated with them. That means working out doesn’t make it okay to hit up a local fast food joint on your way home from the gym.
Coming home from the gym after a 30-minute run only to eat a cheeseburger and French fries with a large soda won’t only put you above your daily recommended calories, but it’ll also overload your body with unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt.
Rather than burning calories and improving your health, your body must now work to rid itself of the unhealthy level of these nutrients that you just consumed. It practically reverses the positive effects of your workout!
You should be replacing the number of calories that you lost and focus on replenishing the nutrients that your body craves post-workout.
In short, yes. If you’re looking to maintain your current weight, you’ll need to be consuming more calories and nutrients on the days that you’re exercising. But you need to make sure that the additional calories and nutrients you’re consuming after a workout are healthy and support your health and fitness goals.