Do you exercise ENOUGH to eat that?

Do you exercise ENOUGH to eat that?
We hear this too often: "Wow, after that gym session I surely deserve a doughnut!"... The question is, do we REALLY deserve a big, sugary or high fat treat after our workouts? Some research studies have emerged, indicating that we tend to overestimate calories burned during our exercise and training activities; while underestimating the amount of calories in various treats and food items. That is a bit of a double-blunder! Basically, this means we are burning less energy during our weekly sweat sessions, but eating more than we realize! 

Although I am all about balanced lifestyles and I am aware that the occasional treat won't cause dramatic consequences for the general population (obviously apart from those with chronic diseases or individual conditions), we do however need to be more conscious on our DAILY habits. For some, this really does include a high caloric smoothie after a very mediocre training session. 

Where do we get lost?

With most people training on gym equipment where "calories burned" are displayed on the machine's screen, we get an idea of how hard we trained. First off, we should remember that these are really just rough estimates, and quite frankly, NOT ACCURATE AT ALL! The actual amount of calories burned can vary widely depending on a whole range of factors: Including but not limited to age, gender, weight, fitness levels, muscle and fat percentages in the body etc. 

It is so much more complicated to know exactly how much calories you burned, than just the time duration and the specific type of exercise. It's a nice tool to challenge yourself and try to beat previous efforts, but you shouldn't solely rely on it for accurate calorie burns or to lead your dietary intake. 

1. "License to Eat"? What is that?

In one study, participants were informed of their calorie-burns (higher or lower than their actual burn) after several sessions. The participants experienced an illusion and thought of their training as a way to grant them a "license to eat". They heard and believed they spent more calories/energy, so their brains tricked them to FEEL hungrier than when they expended less energy. If they were informed that they actually gave out less energy than they did, they felt less hungry after the training session. CRAZY! What a glorious example of mind over matter... BUT, if we are aware of this phenomenon, we can identify it before our brains start playing the same prank on our appetites! B-E-W-A-R-E! Listen to your body's real needs independent of the exercise or training you did.

2. Healthy vs Unhealthy Snacks

One point identified in this field of research, was that there was a higher intake of unhealthy foods exercise, if the participant thought they had higher calorie-burns. So, if the group was told they burnt 265 calories, they rather chose high sugar and high fat products. Whereas if they were informed of a lower calorie burn (50 calories), they opted for a smaller and healthier food product. Isn't it ironic? If you burn a lot of energy, AND choose the healthier snack, you would soon see and experience great benefits. This can really impact your health and weight very positively... Reach your goals much sooner than when you sabotage your own efforts and basically undo all your hard work if you train hard and eat the "wrong" food afterwards. MAKE THE SMART CHOICE to see the results quicker!

3. We eat more than we think! 

We can't just walk it off...

Lastly, where I believe we fall off the wagon, is with regards to our FOOD KNOWLEDGE. We are often being misled and misguided by the food industry. This has been proven time and time again. The guilty culprits are usually ready-made meals mass-produced and fast food. It is highly energy-dense (offering loads and loads of calories, before filling your tummy). So then you tend to eat more before stopping and feeling full. 
It's filled with high energy ingredients such as fat: Saving the food industry tons of cash plus convincing you to eat more and more. It might seem impossible to just walk it off, after we devoured the largest slab of chocolate or polished off a hamburger and cola! 

So, how long should you exercise to burn off that treat of yours? 

Do you exercise ENOUGH to eat that?

Get it right!

  • Always make the best choices you can. NEVER FORGET, THOUGH: Life is a matter of balance. So, go ahead and eat that slice of cake... Just not the whole cake, and NOT everyday! Keep special treat exactly that: a TREAT and only for SPECIAL occasions! 
  • Never beat yourself up over a treat and do not ever feel guilty for enjoying it a little too much! Keep the fun in eating and realize you are human. 
  • Also try to educate yourself. Get to know the food products you want to eat: Read the labels, consult a dietitian on the contents of it or for a personalized dietary education plan, and keep listening to your body. 
  • You can even consult a personal trainer as well to develop a good exercise plan that will be effective for your health goals: fat loss, fitness or muscle gains. 
Love food, love yourself, love your balanced life. 
For recent advice on what you should be eating before and after your training, see this article: 
Fuel your Fitness. Here, I discuss the before and after training dietary requirements. Plus, we discuss some food ideas for you to choose. 

Watch the video below for a quick summary on this information! 

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