7 Tips for the Post Workout Snack Attack

Guest Post by Tamara Grand from FitKnitChick

When it comes to post-workout hunger, there are two types of people; the ‘exercise suppresses my appetite’ crowd and the ‘ravenous for hours’ bunch.

Unfortunately, I fall into the second category. How about you?

On Mondays, I teach two killer cardio classes—60 minutes of metabolic strength and cardio intervals followed by 50 minutes of indoor cycling and abs. My heart rate monitor tells me that in total, I typically burn between 1100 and 1300 calories.

When I leave the gym, I’m famished. Absolutely. Positively. Starving. Don’t-get-between-me-and-the-fridge-hungry. This usually continues for the rest of the day and often carries over to Tuesday morning.

Of course I need to refuel as 1200 calories is a significant energy depletion. But it’s all too easy to eat more than the number of calories I’ve just burned. And of course, I want those calories to be healthy and nutrient dense to support the strength gains I’m hoping to be making in the gym.

Over the years, I’ve found some relatively simple solutions to keep the ‘after-workout-munchies’ in check:

Always eat breakfast.

On days you workout, make sure you eat a real breakfast! Forget the 35-calorie fat free yogurt and instead combine healthy, whole grain carbohydrates with lean protein and veggies. Not only will a substantial breakfast help you get through your workout, it will keep you from craving instant carbohydrate gratification afterwards! Even if you don’t work out until late in the day, those early morning energy stores will benefit you.

Refuel within 30 minutes of working out.

Ideally, your first post-workout ‘meal’ will combine carbohydrates and protein in a 3:1 ratio. Protein shakes combined with milk or fruit are a great recovery drink. If I miss this recovery window, I’m much more likely to spiral out of control with less-than-healthy choices later in the day.

Have a proper meal within 2 hours of exercising.

Again, healthy carbohydrates, lean protein and some heart-friendly fats are best. Avocados and nuts or nut butters may be calorie-dense, but they’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied for much longer than a cookie or a handful of chips.

Don’t use your workout as justification to indulge!

Processed and overly sweet foods will spike blood sugars, initiate insulin production and leave you feeling tired and craving more sweets within the hour. Remember, it’s much easier to consume 500 calories than it is to burn them off!


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. If your workout was long and intense, chances are you need to replace lost fluids. Drink a large glass of water before both your post-workout recovery snack and your next meal.

Stay out of the kitchen.

Tell yourself that the kitchen is closed. Sometimes all it takes to break the ‘eat again’ cycle is a closed door (either real or mental).

Find a hobby that keeps your hands busy.

Having a hobby can keep your hands out of the cookie jar and keep your mind occupied. One of the many reasons I knit!

Read more from FitKnitChick.

The Benefits of a Recovery Snack After a Workout

Do you get the post workout snack attack? What types of food does your body crave and how do you deal with your cravings? Comment below!

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  1. I definitely find preparation is key – like having the pantry & fridge stocked with delicious healthy items. Because after a workout, I do tend to become ravenous. And if aint healthy, then those burned calories are coming right back on.

    Love my post-workout smoothie. Something I always look forward to.

    Great tips!

    • So true Christine; if it’s not in your cupboard or fridge, you can’t eat it! Another reason to practice restraint in the grocery store…

      I’m an after-workout-smoothie girl too!

  2. When I just do something aerobic I think it doesn’t affect my appetite too much, but when I strength train, and when I get out of ballet class(all the barre work is hella good strength training!) I am usually ravenous!
    I am also really thirsty though so fortunately big salads with lots of goodies like beans and fresh fruit sound good.
    Then again do does ice cream;)

    • Ellen,
      I think it’s the other way around for me; lots of cardio and I’m starving! I also find that when I’ve had a good workout, mentally I’m more resilient to eating junk food. The two go hand in hand.

      My 8 year old has a theory about ice cream. You can never be too full for ice cream since it melts and fills in the nooks and crannies between the whole foods you’ve eaten.

      (He also believes that humans have 2 stomachs; one for dinner and one for dessert!)

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Brittany, do you find that Greek yogurt is more filling than the regular, low fat stuff? Since I switched over, I don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied!

  3. You read my mind! 😉 I do it all – great post! I love my mini meal plan too because I always know that another meal is coming so it does keep me from eating in between! But I pretty much do what you wrote above! 🙂

    • Jody and Kymberly, you guys have it all figured out! I guess we have had a few years to listen to our bodies and have learned to treat them right!

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great info! I usually fall into the first category… but somedays I fall into the second. I used to have the “i can eat this because I worked out” mentality, but that didn’t change the numbers on the scale so I knew I had to change something. I fuel right after workouts with quality protein powder and then eat a meal (usually eggs for breakfast) within a few hours.

    • Courtney, sounds like you’ve figured out what works for you! Knowing our temptations is the best way to avoid them. I depend on whey protein after my workouts to fend off the munchies too!


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