3 Tips to Help You Not Out-Eat Your Workout

There’s a saying you might have heard: You can’t outrun (or out-exercise) a bad diet. I get the gist of this—that the average person can’t undo dietary damage with exercise. But what counts as a “bad diet” anyway? That’s so variable—there’s a chance that some folks’ diets are really that bad and that they technically couldn make up for their food intake with exercise. But let’s face it, most of us would have to exercise quite vigorously for a looooong time to make up for the cocktails, doughnuts, fancy coffee/milkshakes and other less-than-nutritious foods we consume.

Chickpea Hummus Without Tahini
Chickpea Hummus with veggies is a good post-workout snack.

So that brings me to my point: If it’s too difficult for the average exercise to out-exercise his or her “bad diet,” then maybe the better idea is for him or her to not out-eat his or her workouts. Get it? It’s the reverse—and imminently more practical and achievable in my opinion. “Rewarding” oneself with food just because you made it through your workout makes little sense for most people, who don’t exercise enough (or hard enough) to require a huge amount of replenishment. Instead, consider these suggestions for how to make this approach work in your life…

1. Ignore the exercise “credit” your calorie tracker app gives you.


Tracking workouts and food intake when trying to manage your weight is a great idea. However, some trackers and apps credit you for calories burned during your workout by adding them to the number of calories you’re allotted that day. That automatically makes it easier for you to “eat up” to that amount. If you’d prefer to exercise and not compensate by later eating the calories you burned, then just ignore that caloric credit.

2. Make it a point to not drink your calories.


Choosing non-caloric beverages is one simple way to help keep calories in check every day. Research indicates that our bodies don’t register liquid calories as well as those that come from solid food, so that means it’s easier for us to just keep on eating—on top of whatever liquid calories we’ve already consumed. Keep it simple and make water and seltzer your sips of choice. Here are three ideas to help you learn to love that water!

3. Forgo the pre-workout snack if you’ve eaten regular meals.


This can be tricky and you need to know your own body and take into consideration how hard you work out. But if you always have food prior to workout, you might want to try your workout without the pre-gym snack. Of course, if you exercise first thing in the morning, you very well might need a snack prior to hitting the gym because you’ve gone all night with no food. However, if you exercise right after work and have eaten breakfast and lunch during the day (as well as that little 3 pm treat you like), you likely don’t need to down a 220-calorie protein snack bar before your sweat sesh. Skip it and have a little quick protein/carbohydrate snack after your workout instead to help refuel your body. Here are a few recipe ideas for post-workout snacks.