Is it true that we should eat more when exercising? Is it a myth? Is it that we just crave more food because we’re tired and weak? What does our body really need? When we talk about fitness nutrition, more doesn’t always mean better, and we know that the more we eat, the more calories we consume, and we can gain weight over time.
So, what does our body really need when we exercise? I remember coming out of my kickboxing class craving a huge plate of french fries. I was hungry, of course, but eating carbs and deep fried foods would totally defeat the purpose of the hard work we did just minutes before.
When we exercise, the body needs refueling, it needs nutrition, real and good food. So nurture it with nature’s goods. If you go and eat a hamburger, you’re only cheating your stomach, your taste buds and your brain to think that you’re getting nourished. It feels good but… does it do the body good?
Fitness Nutrition And Cravings
When our body craves chocolate (and oh, how I crave it especially at night!), our body needs magnesium, so we should eat raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits. I know that if someone offers me any of these when I say I need chocolate, I would give them a death stare, but in reality my body will be much more grateful and it will get the energy that it needs for another workout. Have some nuts available to you at all times to munch on when you get the sweet craving or indulge with a banana and peanut butter.
Sugar is addicting, so as you’re trying to cut back your body will get withdrawal symptoms. It’s common to crave sugar because your brain is used to associate sugar to good fuzzy feelings, but your body also is in need of chromium, found in broccoli, grapes, cheese, beans and chicken, caron, found in fresh fruit, phosphorus, found in chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts legumes and grains, sulfur, found in cranberries, kale, cabbage among others, and tryptophan, found in cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato and spinach.
A few shortcuts: make some sweet potato “chips” in advance, put grapes in the freezer for an icy snack, have fruits cut up and put in Ziploc bags, have raisins and mix them up with dried nuts to make a fun trail mix.
Another huge craving we often have is carbs, like bread and pasta. Comfort food at its best. When your body craves bread, it needs nitrogen, found in high-protein foods like fish, meat, nuts and beans.
When your brain is screaming for some oily snacks and fatty food like French fries, what it’s really asking is calcium, found in mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese and sesame.
If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, you’ll also experience signs of withdrawals such as headaches, and you’ll feel like having coffee before working out to be more awake. Give your body phosphorus, sulfur, NaCl (salt) found in sea salt and apple cider vinegar and iron, found in meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens and black cherries.
And a lot of the times, if not most, what your body really need and is asking for is H2O, water! Especially after exercising. So when you feel like you eat more when exercising – or need to eat more – it might be that you actually need to hydrate! Always try a glass of water before you decide on what to eat. Try two. And after, really think about it and ask yourself: Am I really hungry? If so, what do I want to eat? Do I want to throw away the last hour of hard work?
Don’t deprive yourself of food, don’t starve and make sure you eat small meals every 3-4 hours because yes, you’ll need your dose of fitness nutrition when exercising, but it should be better nutrition.
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