But what if you are making a real effort in the gym, really pushing yourself hard, but you’re still not seeing the weight loss results you’ve been seeking? What can be the reason?
It may very well be a case of post workout compensation, which is one of the biggest sins that you mustn’t make. If you do the punishment will be a lot of frustration and very little weight loss… if any.
But what is post workout compensation and how can you avoid it?
The basic effect of working out is to burn off calories. This helps you achieve a calorie deficit which is necessary for weight loss. Compensation occurs when you eat after a workout. This is recommended as this is the time when your muscles are craving for nutrients.
However, some people overcompensate after working out and eat too many calories. In fact, they eat more calories than they actually burn during their workout so they don’t have a calorie deficit at all. They simply erase the entire calorie expenditure that they got during their workouts.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that the workout itself is useless since exercising has many health benefits besides weight loss. What it does mean is that any hope you have of shedding weight soon is not going to be fulfilled simply because you don’t have a calorie deficit.
How to Avoid Post Workout Over-Compensation
First of all, you need to be aware that it’s happening. This isn’t something abstract or farfetched. There’s a good chance that you’re guilty of it.
Second, you need to avoid the mentality that says “I can eat what I want because I just finished a workout”. This is a false and dangerous mentality. The reality is that it’s much easier to consume calories than it is to burn them. You can eat a piece of cake with hundreds of calories in minutes. It can take you nearly an hour to burn the same amount of calories.
Third, don’t drink you way to compensation. This is the main reason why I dislike energy drinks and prefer water. There’s too many calories in energy drinks. They are the easiest way for you to overcompensate after a workout.
Fourth, what you eat after a workout is important. You don’t need to eat desserts or high sugary dishes so don’t. Compex carbs and a good source of quality protein is what you need.
Fifth, drink a lot of water after your workout before you begin eating. It’s an easy way to lower your appetite. You are also likely dehydrated after an intense workout so drinking water is a must.
Sixth, choose your workouts carefully or at least be aware which workouts tend to trigger a bigger appetite. I found 3 studies which examined appetite differences during a post workout period. The 3 studies examined walking, running, and swimming. The results were that walking and running did not bring about a heightened appetite while swimming did (view references below). So, if you swim, you need to be particularly careful to not overcompensate afterwards.
The reasons for why swimming produces a bigger appetite are not totally clear, but it seems to do with the temperature of the water. The colder it gets the higher the appetite is after you workout.
Seven, have your post workout food ready in advance. If you wait until the end of your workout, you will likely eat more because of the psychological and physical heightened appetite you may be feeling.
Post workout compensation may be the reason why you can’t lose weight even though you’re making a lot of effort. Go over the tips I’ve outlined above and apply them to make sure your workouts are effective.
Do you have any more tips to help avoid overcompensation? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Influence of brisk walking on appetite - King JA, Wasse LK, Broom DR, Stensel DJ. March 2010.
Influence of prolonged treadmill running on appetite - King JA, Miyashita M, Wasse LK, Stensel DJ. February 2010.
The acute effects of swimming on appetite - King JA, Wasse LK, Stensel DJ. October 2010.