I did it!!
It was the most beautiful day for a 10 mile run, and I finished the race in 1 hour and 50 minutes. Once upon a time, I never thought I could run for 10 minutes, let alone for almost 2 hours. It all begins by putting one foot in front of the other, and I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself.
What blows me away the most is how much food I can consume after running 10 miles. For someone who already has a healthy appetite (I eat just about every two hours, like clockwork), it seems impossible to be even hungrier than usual.
If you have recently started exercising you may notice you feel hungrier too, which might make you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. You’re exercising to lose weight, but now your cravings feel stronger than ever…..what to do, what to do?
First, bear in mind that even though you may want to eat less to lose weight it is still important to maintain a balanced diet. The most important component of successful sport training and exercise performance is adequate calorie intake. Eating fuels your exercise, wards off fatigue, helps repair muscles, and supports overall health.
So, how do you satisfy those cravings in a way that supports exercise performance and weight loss? Without getting too technical we can boil it down to meal planning, in particular pre- and post-exercise meals, smart snacking, and fluid replacement. Just as it is necessary to plan when to work out, it is important to plan what you will eat before exercising to fuel your workout and what you will eat after exercising to replenish your body.
The Pre-Exercise Meal
ONE of these choices 1-hour or less before workout: about 100 calories
ONE of these choices 2-3 hours before workout: about 300-400 calories
ONE of these choices 3-4 hours before workout: about 700 calories
The Post-Exercise Meal
This certainly depends on the type and intensity of your exercise, but the consensus of my research is to consume carbohydrates and protein to replenish energy stores and rebuild muscles, respectively.
Another important factor to consider when exercising is your fluid balance, which helps regulate body temperature. For moderate exercisers regular water is enough to satisfy fluid needs, while sports drinks offer unnecessary calories from added sugar. Sports drinks are useful if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes or in hot, humid conditions. Avoid alcohol after exercising, as it is a diuretic and can actually lead to further dehydration.
What about in between exercises when your hunger pangs are peaking? High-fiber foods can help you feel full longer, and can be relatively low in calories. Load up on non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, spinach, broccoli, green beans, and tomatoes. These foods have so little calories that they are oftentimes considered “free” foods. Plus, their water content helps you stay hydrated!! Two birds, one stone.
Other high fiber foods include: oatmeal, whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, and popcorn.
Exercise and eating are like the wings of a bird...without one or the other, we could never presume to fly!