Struggling with increased hunger following weightlifting and resistance training isn't unusual. Physical activity can accelerate your metabolism, help burn calories and increase body fat loss according to research from Colorado State University.
You're breaking down muscles in the gym, depleting them of sugar, or glycogen, and burning calories. Resistance training can burn many calories, and the increases in caloric demand don't stop when you leave the gym. All of this activity can leave you feeling hungry after weight training is over, but there are a few tricks you can try to ease the hunger pangs.
Add in Extra Protein
One of the things that occurs when you train is that amino acids are broken down or utilized by the body for various tasks. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that active people may require more protein to keep up with energy expenditure. Good sources of protein include chicken, fish and lean cuts of beef and pork. Milk is another excellent source of protein and can easily be consumed for extra calories between meals. If you follow any type of vegetarian diet, various soy and other products are available to keep you from feeling hungry after weight training.
Fuel Up With Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for your body, as they are the easiest to burn. One of the primary sources of energy when lifting is your muscles' supply of glycogen or sugar. If you burn it all up, you need to "top off your tank" for an optimal performance next time and to fight off the feeling of being hungry after a workout. While it's possible to take in minimal carbohydrates and still perform, if you're constantly hungry after weight training, you might want to examine this aspect of your diet. Combining protein with complex carbohydrates may further enhance your recovery.
Choose Healthy Fats
Yes, some fat is essential. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are required for a variety of functions within the body, including hormonal regulation. Lifting is a strain on your endocrine or hormonal system. If you're not getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet, you can consume extra fish oils for omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, and use flaxseed when cooking for more omega-6. Diets too low in fat can have a negative impact on your ability to recover, leaving you feeling hungry after weight training.
Putting It All Together
When you eat is almost as important as what you eat, if you struggle with increased hunger with weight lifting. If you're always hungry, ensure that you're properly fueled prior to a training session.
A modest amount of protein with carbohydrates before you hit the gym can provide you with extra energy and leave you feeling less fatigued. After the workout, ensure that you're getting protein and carbohydrates together because weightlifting increases the appetite. Divide your meals into smaller portions and eat them over the course of the day. If you're still hungry after a workout, drink milk between meals and eat a good source of protein, carbohydrates and small amounts of fat at mealtimes. Train hard and eat well.
- Colorado State University Extension: Weight-Loss Products, Programs, and Diets
- EatRight: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Protein and the Athlete — How Much Do You Need?
- Medline Plus: Carbohydrates
- MedlinePlus: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- MedlinePlus: Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook (third edition)"; Nancy Clark; 2003
- "Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements"; Jose Antonio; 2008