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Why Do I Feel Hungry After Workout?

You are not alone if you've ever completed a workout and then had the need to stuff your face instantly. Post-workout hunger pangs are a real problem that impacts some gym-goers from time to time.



Why Do I Feel So Hungry When I Work Out?

Since hitting the gym, there are some reasons you may feel like you could eat a horse. The first: you have already starved into the exercise. "A lot of people go through undernourished exercises and become ravenous," says licenced dietitian Maya Feller. But how does it work, exactly?

Well, when you work out — or, for that matter, do some sort of movement — your body uses a material called glycogen to fuel the motion. Your body gets glycogen from carbohydrates — basically, as you eat carbs, the body cuts them up into glucose and preserves them as glycogen, says dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot.  Your liver secretes hormones ghrelin when you use up your glycogen reserves, which signals your brain it's time to munch.

If you participate in a workout with already-low glycogen stocks, exercise could further deplete them and cause ghrelin release. If your glycogen stocks are very poor, that can translate into that sensation that I-need-to-eat-something-ASAP.

Dehydration is another potential cause for post-exercise pangs of hunger. You lose water while running and sweating, and hence suffer symptoms of dehydration.  Since dehydration symptoms are close to that of hunger — such as feeling exhausted and shaky — you may quickly connect the two. For that reason, Zuckerbrot defines that not drinking enough H2O before, after and/or after a sweat session can cause hunger-like symptoms. In other words, you might think we're super hungry for a sweat sesh, when you're really dehydrated, really.

Finally, working out really intensively and/or for a long time will cause extreme feelings of hunger, even though you went into the exercise well-hydrated and well-nourished, but this is not something that the general public of gym goers wants to care about.

For the average person who workouts regularly a few days a week, hunger after a workout shouldn't be so serious that you feel faint if you don't catch something to eat right afterwards," says registered dietitian Alyssa Pike. 



How To Recharge After a Workout

Generally the body requires three items after workout: carbohydrates (to replenish the glycogen stores), protein (to build and rebuild muscles) and water (to rehydrate). The exact amount you need for each depends on the exercise strength and duration, your physiological requirements, and fitness objectives, Zuckerbrot says.

The perfect post-workout snack should mix lean proteins with high-fiber carbohydrates, preferably in a ratio of 3 to 1. The carbs, as described, will replenish the glycogen reserves of your body, and protein will help reload your muscles. Protein is highly important if weight lifting is included in your routine, since the exercise will cause tiny tears in the muscle fibres, and protein is what allows the muscles to regenerate and grow stronger. Eat your snack inside an hour of your exercise to reap these advantages.

Grilled chicken and Greek yoghurt are outstanding protein alternatives, and high-fiber carbs include whole fruits, vegetables, and foods with whole grains, such as high-fiber cereal or whole-wheat bread.  Other healthy carb-and-protein treats include a peanut butter banana, or two hard-boiled eggs and crackers, Pike says.

When you plan your exercises, it can be important to bear in mind your normal eating habits. If you ever feel hungry after your runs or after special kinds of runs, prepare ahead so that when you're finished, you have a high-quality, healthy snack readily available. This will help you stop being very hungry and at risk of overeating for your next meal.

And on that note, whether you're exercising or not, it's good to be in touch with hunger signals so we can properly decide how much to consume.


References:

· Bruno, A. (2017, March 10). This Is Why You’re Hungry After a Workout. SELF; SELF. https://www.self.com/story/theres-a-surprising-reason-youre-hungry-after-a-workout#:~:text=When%20your%20glycogen%20stores%20dip,Cue%20hunger.

· ‌ Health.com /Amanda MacMillan. (2014, September 13). 11 Ways to Stop Overeating After Your Workout. Time; Time. https://time.com/3341969/overeating-after-your-workout/

· McCoy, J. (2019, March 8). Why Am I Always So Hungry After a Workout? Cooking Light; Cooking Light. https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/why-am-i-hungry-after-workout

· ‌ Ellie. (2019, December 11). Hungry all the time? Here’s why it’s a good thing. Freeletics.Com. https://www.freeletics.com/en/blog/posts/hungry-time-heres-good-thing/

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