Post Training Munchies

The trigger for this blog is simple. Nearly a year ago I added a dedicated strength and condition session to my training programme.  I really enjoy it for a number of grappling and non grappling related reasons but I have discovered one problem – lifting makes me really hungry! Seriously I start to find my office colleagues looking tasty post lifting! Plus there is nothing worse than being near an office kitchen full of biscuits when hungry and being on a diet for competition! So I thought I’d look into what can cause those post training munchies and what have done and can try to limit them.

how I exercise gifThe first reasons really depends on your personality and how you view food. My husband see’s food as a fuel source most of the time and it isn’t his go to reward / comfort treat. For me however food is pleasure and working hard obviously means the odd cheat! So there is a little bit to cover about needing will power as lifting can trigger those psychological feelings of work and reward! This is from potentially two aspects – 

One is that grappling doesn’t have a linear progression. You don’t have an A-B improvement that often and even if you do hit that new sweep it’s usually quickly followed up by something equalising like getting caught in that triangle! Weights however (or at least for me) have that instant gratification (being able to lift more and to life it more times). Now obviously if you’ve worked hard and achieved something so you deserve a reward?! That chocolate bar won’t harm your diet too much right?!?

Secondly as a grappler we’re not as used to strength and conditioning work (especially when my trainer sneaks in weighted cardio at the end). It’s very easy to over-estimate how much we have worked out and use the “hard training” as an excuse to fall off the wagon a bit or to “refuel”. I definitely fell more into this group and if I wasn’t using my fitness app regularly I would have over eaten more than I did.

But the good news is that it’s probably something you will grow out of a little bit. Researchers have found that people who exercise regularly start self-regulating the food they need much more efficiently over time. The body adapts to what it needs.

On the flip side of this you also need to consider “rebellion hunger” as a potential cause.  It’s important than you look at ensuring you have a enough fuel for your workouts. Skipping food or more extreme weight loss techniques can result in rebellion hunger which is your body basically wanting to energy to refuel and repair. The main challenge with it is instead of eating your planned meal or snack you;ve suddenly consumed your snacks for the day, your lunch, the office biscuit stash and may not even remember chewing! It’s one of the reasons I’m not a fan of fasted workouts either for weights or rolling.

When I recently wrote regarding intermittent fasting I mentioned a host of differences that were down to gender and hormone responses. So it’s not a total surprise to see that it does have an effect here too. I’ll be honest the research has been mixed regarding hormone response but they may play an effect. Although there is differences depending i love food
on your body weight with 
research finding that obese women are more resistant to Leptin post exercise which can have an appetite suppressant effect (the I can’t eat a thing feeling!). But it also found that women tend to eat more and be hungry after high intensity exercise too,  Last but not least women do seem a little bit more emotionally attached to our food cravings. Research has shown that once women think about eating food their emotional cravings are stronger than our male counterparts even after hunger has subsided!

water flowing out of a bottleFinally, there are a host of articles that talk about people confusing thirst for hunger and that your hunger pangs may just be being slightly dehydrated. Although there isn’t really any great scientific sources to back up this idea (mainly due to relying on individuals self reporting). However, it does make sense, when your slightly dehydrated you can get the same types of feelings and signals as you do when your hungry e.g. tired, light-headed, slight headaches etc. Similarly if you’ve just worked out you will need to ensure you stay hydrated so ensuring your drinking enough might be a hunger solution. I’ve blogged about staying hydrated before as it is something I believe in and one of the reasons I have my BCAA after lifting (see later on).

I’ll be honest I think there is probably something in all of these reasons so I thought I’d share how I try to limit my munchie attacks.

  • Bananas – I used to use protein and recovery shakes post class but then I had a rethink and switched to Banana. Bananas are around 100 kcals, portable, edible post comp class and due to be high in carbohydrate help with refueling as well as the fact the carbohydrates pre bed have been shown to make you sleepy by making tryptophan more readily available to the brain. Add to the potassium and magnesium that are also thought to help relax muscles and restful sleep then I have a solution that helps me refuel after evening training, stops me being as hungry in the morning and helps me sleep!
  • BCAA (Branch Chained Amino Acids) – These have a host of benefits. Not only does BCAA help with recovery but aadditionally research has shown that they help to regulate blood sugar levels and those pesky hormones that trigger appetite; helping you beat those cravings and munchies. I don’t know how true the science is but personally I have found that whilst they don’t totally stop my cravings they do help take the edge off them! Finally also having to drink these means I must have around another 600mls of water on top of the water I drink during training helping me stay a little bit more hydrated.
  • Posh Protein Bars – I particularly use these after my morning weights or after a weekend session. Again portability plays a role so I can eat them on route to the office etc but it boils down to limiting my “work and reward” eating. A posh protein bar like Barebells or Phd Smart bars (along many others on the market) are essentially like chocolate bars with better macros! You can’t feel deprived when you post training snack involves sweet delicious chocolate and caramel deliciousness! mmm.

As always I hope you find this blog useful and feel free to let me know if any f this helps you with your grappling or if you have any other tips or tricks to share!

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