I finally got back on a normal workout routine a few weeks ago. A month of traveling through India left me weak and 10 pounds lighter (which was fine by me). Being the endorphin junky that I am, I was desperate to swing a kettlebell and find a reasonably paved road to run on.
I got in my first intense workout and it felt great, but my performance was definitely sub par. I still celebrated with some cheese and wine afterwards. A few workouts later and I was beginning to feel like myself again. Then it happened, the inevitable hunger trap.
Whenever you start working out consistently, you tend to get very hungry. Personally, I far exceeded the “very hungry” phase and was catapulted directly into the “completely ravenous” phase. I paced around convincing myself not to eat as visions of chocolate macaroons from Sucré in New Orleans (my new favorite) danced in my head.
No one tells you that you are going to be very HUNGRY, HANGRY & RAVENOUS after you start working out. It’s the danger of starting to exercise and seriously the rudest thing the universe could do. Here you are, getting back on track with your exercise program and you start eating like that dude on Man vs. Food. What the hell? It can take an hour of vigorous exercise to burn 500 calories and about 5 minutes to eat them back up. What the F?!
Regardless of what the next fad tells you, the weight loss formula is simple. Calories in must be less than calories out. That’s it.
The Deceptive Formula:
Increased Exercise = Increased Calorie Burn = YAYY!! Potential Weight Loss
Increased Exercise = Increased Calorie Burn = Increased Appetite = Likely Increased Calorie Intake = Boooo! No Weight Loss
So the key to losing weight is to attack the increased appetite & increased calorie intake that usually results from increased exercise.
(Or lose weight by not exercising and starving yourself a.k.a dieting. I choose to exercise and eat accordingly.)
If you are consistently exercising to lose weight and not seeing results, the problem likely lies in the amount of calories you are consuming. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories even when your body is craving more from the workouts. This is where the theory behind “not all calories are created equal” becomes incredibly valuable. If you are getting your calories from processed foods, fast foods and the like, you are consuming a huge amount of calories with little nutritional value, so you never feel full and tend to overeat, thus halting your weight loss process. Eating whole foods that are rich in fiber is the way to go.
This is what I do to curb my hunger when I am working out:
- I like evening workouts so I can plan my post workout meal accordingly and then I just have a few hours to wait before bed. Get used to going to sleep a little hungry and try not to eat anything at least 2-3 hours before hitting the sack.
- I drink warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon when I am feeling super hungry and I know I can’t eat any more calories. This usually happens every night around 9pm.
- I eat a ton of leafy green vegetables. Whether in a green juice or raw/cooked veggies with each meal, I load up with these fiber rich foods. Because most leafy greens are low in calories, you can eat a lot of them.
- I eat a lot of chia seeds. Not only are they packed with antioxidants and omega-3’s, but they expand in your stomach, making you feel full. I put them into my green juices and incorporate them into sauces.
- I eat steel cut oats for breakfast. I use 1/2 almond milk and 1/2 water to cook the oats and add some honey, cinnamon and berries. It will leave you full and energized for a very long time.
- Eat slowly, it’ll let your system know you are full before you wolf down that second helping.
- I don’t like it, but if I’m really hungry and it’s not feeding time at the zoo, I chew gum.
- I physically remove myself from the kitchen area and never dare turn on the Food Network.
So there you have it. The universe is cruel but these are some tips that have helped me crack the weight loss code.
Have other tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!
To the cruel world of fitness and hunger pains,
Party Smart. Sweat Smarter.