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Does Your Health Club Workouts Trigger Food Binges?


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One hidden danger of a vigorous health club workout is that it may trigger a post-workout food binge.

Although it impacts males and females, studies have shown that women are more at risk of falling prey to the "I worked out today, I can splurge" mindset.

There's actually an official name for this challenge. It's called compensation or post workout compensation. Some might also refer to it as post workout binging.

One study found that women continued to burn calories for up to 67 hours after an intense 40 minute workout. Most women will burn approximately 350 calories during a workout with measured intensity.

The benefit of the 67 hours after exercise burn is worth an approximate 50 extra calories.

Unfortunately, some women believe after working hard at the health club or their home gyms they can splurge a little after a hard workout.

While it's possible you won't gain weight after a post-workout binge, it's also probable that you won't make any significant gains towards fitness, improved health or weight loss goals.

Since post health club workout binges are a common trap, fitness experts have figured out ways to avoid binge triggers.

How? Create a balanced exercise and diet program. Always plan every day's menu in advance and make sure you build a healthy plan to prevent after exercise food splurges.

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Nutrition and exercise experts suggest you plan to eat a light carbo-rich mini-meal or snack (125-200) calories.

Experts suggest a carbo-rich food because too much protein, fat or fiber can cause digestive problems including bloating, cramps or a heavy feeling.

My own trainer used to have me make organic oatmeal bars and cut them into portions equivalent to 125-200 calories. I would eat one approximately 60 minutes before starting my cardio. It would really help keep me feeling energetic without hunger or bloated.

Other options included a slice of whole wheat bread with a tablespoon of organic peanut butter or almond butter. Although I personally love cashew butter, it tends to be a lot higher in fat and not a good choice for most.

Although some experts suggest 1 cup of soy milk blended with a low sugar/low fat fruit, I personally don't believe soy milk offers the best benefits. Instead I might suggest a Greek style yogurt with a few cherries blended in.

While it's important to plan your pre-workout mean, it's just as important to plan your post workout meal to make it binge proof.

Your post workout meal should include lean protein, antioxidant rich veggies to help repair muscles along with whole grains. It's also important to replenish your H2O levels with adequate water.

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Possible post-workout options might include grilled chicken or fish with a healthy grain and steamed veggies. Create your own menus, but be sure to establish a menu rotation so you don't become bored.

Another tip is to keep your favorite binge foods out of easy eyesight or reach. If you don't see it, you may be less tempted to indulge.


One of the keys to success with any workout or diet plan is to understand where you're most vulnerable to slip.

Post workout binging is a common challenge, especially for many women. Understand your own cravings and try to build healthy options into your pre and post workout meals.

Recognize the symptoms, religiously use a food diary and then track calories you consume religiously.

- Revised Publication Date: 11/23/11

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