Some people think that if they exercise, they can eat whatever they want. Actually, you should watch what you eat whether you exercise or not. To do that, you’ll have to know how many calories you’re consuming and how many you’re burning.
There are all kinds of myths floating around about working out and how it’s related to what you eat. Maybe you’re someone who wonders if you can eat whatever you want after exercising, theorizing that you deserve a treat after going to the gym and working hard. This article will answer this and other questions, so read on!
Exercise and diet: closely related
While some people have special metabolisms that can apply to the aforementioned theory, for a lot of us it’s not a good idea to go out for ice cream or pizza after working out. We know that we should watch what we eat (whether we’re exercising or not) and that eating too much is never good, but it’s a valid question about if you can eat whatever you want after a workout.
It comes down to how many calories you’re burning versus how many you’re consuming. Of course, it all depends on your goals, but if your goal is to lose weight, you should be burning more than you’re consuming. On the other hand, if you’re trying to build muscle mass or gain weight, then the opposite is what you want.
The number of calories exercises and daily activities burns isn’t the same for everybody. It depends on factors like age, gender, physical build, genes, body fat, etc.
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Exercise and treats
If you exercise on a regular basis, you can have a treat every once in a while. One treat won’t affect your weight or get you back to zero. A piece of candy or a hot dog won’t make you put on the pounds you’ve managed to lose.
However, a lot of people use working out as an excuse to overeat. The idea is: “I did an hour on the bike so now I can go out for drinks with my friends.” If this happens once or twice a month, no problem. However, if it’s a daily habit, your workouts will never be able to compensate for the excess calories and instead of slimming down you’ll gain weight.
It’s just how it is. You can still gain weight even if you go to the gym daily. True, you won’t gain as much as if you weren’t exercising, but you won’t get the results you want. You may even stop working out, thinking that you’re not making any progress.
To be able to eat whatever you want, you’ll have to work out more intensely. And not even that will guarantee you won’t gain weight, because your body needs high quality energy to function properly. Plus, you can’t spend all day at the gym just to burn all the calories you had the night before.
Professional athletes are on a whole other plane. They eat a lot of protein and may even have lunches that consist of three plates of pasta and breakfasts that consist of 3 bananas and 3 eggs. Why? Because in their workouts and competitions, they burn an incredible amount of calories and require incredible amounts of energy.
Exercise and appetite
So, we’ve established that you’re not justified in eating a bag of chips or big cheeseburger after getting home from the gym or a run. You need to know your body and your own metabolism so you can pick the right foods to recover and not have a voracious appetite.
When you finish exercising, it’s normal to be hungry. Your body has used up a lot of energy and burned a lot of calories. It needs fuel, just like a car. Now, what kind of fuel will you give it?
You could choose low quality fuel and end up with a broken motor, or high quality fuel that will empower you to go the distance and not wear down. Low quality food is junk food, sweets, and fried food. High quality food, though, is fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Eat these and your body will be able to recover in a healthy way and you’ll reach your goals.
We’ve busted one myth already, the one about being able to eat whatever you want after exercising. Let’s look at a few other ones now.
1. Stretching beforehand improves performance
Actually, stretching before exercising only helps prevent injury; it has nothing to do with performance.
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2. When you stop exercising, muscle turns into fat
If you don’t go to the gym, you’ll lose muscle mass and your metabolism will slow down. Over time you will gain weight. However, your muscles will never turn into fat because they’re two different kinds of tissue.
3. If the scale shows a higher weight, you’re gaining weight
It seems self-explanatory, but it’s actually not. In reality, it all depends on your goals and what kind of workouts you do. Fat and muscles do not have the same density. Therefore, if you weigh the same or even more, it might be because you’ve burned fat and increased muscle mass.