Self-control and exercise: Researchers find that more people overindulge after working out
11/25/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

When it comes to losing weight, discipline and self-control are important to achieve your weight loss goals. Unfortunately, many people tend to eat more than they should after working out at the gym, and then wonder or even complain why they don’t see any changes in their bodies.

Researchers at Loughborough University in the U.K. found a probable reason why this occurs. In their study, they found that people increase their portion sizes by about a quarter after a workout as a way to "reward" themselves for breaking a sweat. Many often eat back all – if not more than – the calories they worked so hard to burn. Exercise then becomes counterintuitive in this case, as it could lead to weight gain for people with this mindset.

For the study, the researchers recruited 40 participants who were tasked to take part in an aerobics class at least three times a week. After measuring the participants' weights, they were asked how much they eat after a workout and on a rest day.

The researchers found that regular exercise led to an initial weight loss. However, the rate of weight loss declined, or weight became stable over time as the participants chose to eat a larger portion size meal, particularly a 24 percent increase in energy content of food served after a workout session. They explained that this increase might diminish the negative energy balance induced by exercise. Consequently, this may undo any weight loss with regular exercise training.

In addition, the researchers found that the volunteers increased their lunch-time portions by 150 calories after exercising. They warned that eating more during dinner would more than outweigh any benefit of exercising.


They also found that the consumption of chocolate increased by 20 percent. This pattern was seen more commonly in women than in men.

The findings of the study suggested that aerobic exercise may affect meal planning, at least in those who exercise regularly, which may be responsible for the stabilization of weight loss. For this reason, the researchers stressed the importance of combining exercise with a healthy diet when trying to effectively shed off some pounds. (Related: Simple changes you can make at home to help you lose weight.)

Ways to prevent overeating after a workout

One of the reasons why you tend to be hungry after working out is because exercise increases appetite. Reduced glycogen stores, dehydration, and inadequate pre-workout fuel are several other reasons why you get hungry after exercising. To help you out, here are some things you can do to stop yourself from overeating after a workout session:

  • Exercise before a meal – If you are always hungry after you exercise, regardless of how much you ate beforehand or how many calories you burned, try to exercise before taking any meal. In this way, you can refuel with calories you would have consumed anyway.
  • Snack throughout the day – Snacking two to three times throughout the day will help regulate your hunger between meals, boost your energy, and keep metabolism bumped up.
  • Drink water right after your workout – Replacing the fluids you lost during a workout should be your priority. Drinking plenty of water will also help reduce your appetite. Therefore, drinking enough water after your workouts can both keep you hydrated and stop you from overeating.
  • Refuel along the way – For workouts lasting more than two hours, such as a long bike ride or a marathon training run, it’s best to refuel along the way. This will prevent you from feeling hungry afterward. Try to consume 30 to 60 g of carbs every hour after your first hour of training. However, avoid consuming anything with protein as it takes a while to be digested.

Reach your fitness goal with proper exercise and diet. Read more articles on how to lose weight effectively at

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