The Truth About Exercise and Appetite | Arena District Athletic Club

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Brittany Lewis
Jan 08, 2019

The Truth About Exercise and Appetite


Beware the Exercise Halo

A great sweat session can make you feel like a health angel—for good reason, given its life-enhancing power. “But we can feel so virtuous that we reward ourselves with some not-so-healthy habits,” warns Susan Bowerman, R.D., assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Don’t fall for these self-sabotaging thoughts:


My metabolism is higher after a workout, so this bite will burn right off.


Ah, the afterburn effect. That’s when your body uses energy to return to a resting state. “It sounds great, but even very intense exercise lasting more than 45 minutes burns less than 100 extra calories,” says Philip Clifford, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.


The bottom line Skip the cool-down nibble: Doing it five times a week saves you up to 500 calories—the equivalent of a Spin class you don’t actually take!


I melted mega calories this morning. I can eat what I want today.


Define mega. Research shows we grossly overestimate our sizzle. People who burned 200 calories by walking briskly thought they had burned 825 in a study at the University of Ottawa. “And they later overate by about 350 calories based on their miscalculations,” says study author Eric Doucet, Ph.D.


The bottom line Don’t just guess your calories burned; tally them in a reliable way. For most women, a brisk walk zaps 5 calories per minute (225 in 45 minutes).


I kicked boot camp booty. I deserve a treat after my hard work.

True, but reward yourself with food and you’re likely to stall your slim-down. “Run 40 minutes at a 9-minute-mile pace and you’ll burn about 470 calories; grab a Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappucino afterward and you’ll replace those calories plus an extra 20,” Braun says.


The bottom line “It’s incredibly easy to negate the weight loss effects of exercise with a single food item, so find other ways to indulge yourself,” Braun says. Try inedible rewards such as a relaxing pedicure or new songs for your workout playlist.


Candy bar pre-workout? Why not! Those will be the first calories to go.

Step away from the junk food: Women who ate high-glycemic-index foods (candy, white bread, sugary cereal) before exercising burned 55 percent less fat than those who had low-GI foods (oatmeal, yogurt), a study in the Journal of Nutrition found. “High-GI foods raise insulin concentrations, suppressing the body’s ability to burn fat; low-GI ones don’t,” says study author Emma Stevenson, Ph.D.


The bottom line Sweets are best in moderation—and not before the gym.

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Fuel Your Fat Burn

What—and when—you eat before you tackle that yoga mat or treadmill can push your calorie-blasting efficiency to a whole new level. Or it could totally set you back. Don’t waste a perfectly good workout by downing the wrong nutrients. Check your schedule, then find the foods that can help you scorch calories at peak speed.


How long do you plan to exercise?


Less than 60 minutes, low intensity
I can carry on a convo without gasping. (walking, light strength training, yoga)

My workout is in less than an hour. You don’t need to stock up for shorter bouts of low-intensity exercise; they don’t deplete your energy supplies as much as more intensive exercise does, says Karen Reznik Dolins, Ed.D., registered sports dietitian at Columbia University. “But be sure you’re not dehydrated or hungry, or you’ll fatigue faster.”


Best bite: A piece of fruit and a bottle of water provide a small boost without weighing you down.


My workout is in more than an hour. If you’re hungry, you have time to digest a lowfat meal, Reznik Dolins says. A mix of low-glycemic foods offer a long charge.


Best bite: 8 ounces lowfat yogurt with ¼ cup granola and a piece of fruit, or 3 slices of turkey on whole-wheat bread with fruit


Less than 60 minutes, high intensity
I’m working too hard to chitchat. (running, swimming, Spinning)


My workout is in less than an hour. “During high-intensity exercise, blood flow is diverted away from the gut to aid muscles, so digestion slows,” Reznik Dolins says. If you have a meal shortly beforehand, sloshing undigested food could cause a stomachache. Haven’t eaten recently? Enjoy a small snack with simple carbs for a speedy pick-me-up.


Best bite: One slice of white toast with jelly or a sports drink like Gatorade. Skip whole grains in this situation; they’re harder to digest.


My workout is in more than an hour. Have a meal with low-GI foods to optimize fat burn.

Carbs (muscles’ main energy source) are key for tougher workouts.


Best bite: A whole-wheat wrap with veggies and eggs, or a PB&J on whole-wheat bread


60 minutes or more, low intensity
I can carry on a convo without gasping. (walking, light strength training, yoga)


My workout is in less than an hour. Digestion shouldn’t be a problem during low-intensity exercise, but headstands on a full stomach? Not fun. A light snack of whole grains and protein offers extended energy, says registered dietitian Kristine Clark, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at Penn State in University Park.


Best bite: A few whole-wheat crackers and 1 string cheese, or a Luna bar


My workout is in more than an hour. To fend off hunger and fatigue once you’re past the hour mark, eat a meal beforehand that includes low-GI whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein, Kristine Clark suggests. The three digest at slow but varying rates, so you have more staying power.


Best bite: 1 cup whole-grain cereal with skim milk and blueberries and 1 hard-boiled egg


60 minutes or more, high intensity
I’m working too hard to chitchat. (running, swimming, Spinning)


My workout is in less than an hour. “The closer you get to a challenging workout like this one, the more you need simple carbs that can quickly convert to energy,” Reznik Dolins says. Reach for something light (100 to 200 calories) to give your muscles pep, pronto.


Best bite: 1 cup dry cereal (not whole-grain) with raisins, or a few regular crackers with jam


My workout is in more than an hour. When you’re huffing and puffing for a long period, carbs

are a key source of fuel for muscles, Kristine Clark says. “Have a 400- to 600-calorie meal that contains at least 60 percent low-GI carbs, with the rest protein and healthy fats.”


Best bite: 1 whole-wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese and 2 slices turkey, or 1 cup cooked oatmeal with skim milk and a sliced banana or 1/3 cup raisins


Article by: Kelly Mickle


The Arena District Athletic Club is more than just a gym, it’s a premier fitness facility located in the heart of the Arena District in downtown Columbus. We provide convenience and quality, featuring top-of-the-line equipment, top-notch personal trainers, spa-like locker rooms and a wide variety of free group fitness classes daily including Cardio, Spinning, Barre Fusion, Yoga, Boot Camp and more. We offer free 2-hour parking and convenient contract-free memberships, to fit your healthy lifestyle needs. Don’t just join, belong.



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