Skip the High-Calorie Rewards
Getting through a tough workout is a huge feat-but many people are bulking up with high-calorie foods after their workouts as a reward. Putting on more calories than you burn in your post-workout meal will negate your results. And eating large meals after you sweat it out isn’t so great either, according to the article.
Dr. Karen Earle, medical director of diabetes services at California Pacific Medical Center, is amazed by how many calories are in some foods, especially those coined as healthy. “Gatorade, for example, has a ton of calories, and sometimes people are drinking it while they exercise and then it’s just a wash.”
“Is exercise good? Absolutely. But not because it burns calories,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Children’s Hospital. “Diet is about weight. Exercise is about health.”
Choose Smarter Refueling Foods
When you’re starving after a workout, turning to smarter foods will help you refuel without packing on extra pounds. Many people reward themselves with muffins after a workout, except those can be packed with calories, as can Gatorade, which provides that sugary-taste fix.
After a workout, your muscles require material to recuperate. Choose a light meal within two hours after working out, and make sure to have something balanced with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats too. Foods with potassium such as bananas, potatoes or raisins can help replace the potassium that is lost by sweating during a workout.
Don’t Stop Working Out
Exercise still has a number of positive effects, especially for heart health, cognitive function and overall mental health. According to a study published in the June issue of “Neurology,” older people who exercise at least once a week are 30 percent more likely to maintain cognitive function than those who do not exercise as much.
And an even more recent study from the University of Alberta says that people with chronic back pain who exercise four times a week experience a 36 percent less disability than those who exercise only two or three days a week.
So, the results are there-you just have to apply exercise with smart eating habits.
Exercise can help you lose weight. You must burn about 3,500 calories to lose a pound. If you burn 300 calories in one workout, it will take 12 workouts to lose a pound, but you’ll also be eating in the meantime. Eat lower calorie meals and you can see better results more quickly.
To lose weight, aim for about 200 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise and be consistent with your eating, according to Timothy Church, a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
It’s hard to tell whether outright sweating and rigorous exercise triumphs more leisurely activities such as golfing and gardening. The U.K.’s Peninsula Medical School study showed that kids moving intensely all day were more tired after school, while children that engaged in moderate activity all day were more likely to be active after school hours.
A similar study by the University of Exeter found that children moving in short bursts, such as running to catch a ball, were just as healthy as children that took part in sports that required sustained exercise.
Tufts University research compiled a summary of published studies that were undertaken between 1969 and 2005 and found that an hour of exercise per day yields an average fat loss of just six pounds over the course of several months. And because most people only exercise 30 minutes a day, that’s just 3 lbs. It’s no reason to skip the gym but it does show that the gym isn’t the only option.
“Exercise is great medicine for general health and a great add-on to dieting, so feel free to kill yourself in the gym if it makes you feel good. But it isn’t essential, and by itself doesn’t do much. All the evidence suggests that exercise is less important than what goes in your mouth, and when,” says Dr. Susan Roberts, a professor of Nutrition and Psychiatry at Tufts University.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Even what you think may be healthy can be loaded with calories and fat, so read labels. An “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” article says that integrating exercising into the treatment of obesity produced “inconsistent” results.
“The increased energy expenditure obtained by training may be compensated by a decrease in non-training physical activities,” the article states.
So, what works? It’s a good idea to research healthy, mindful eating and talk about your diet with a professional to see what works best for you.