Following an intense strength workout, you find yourself longing to stare wistfully at the tub of ice cream in the freezer rather than reaching for the protein-rich chicken salad you cooked earlier.
Perhaps after eating the salad, all you could think about was the chocolate chip cookies that you had hidden in the cupboards as soon as you set down your knife and fork.
You are not alone, it happens to all of us, well all love a sugar rush. And science proves it!
Recent research indicated that exercising actually increases our susceptibility to desiring sugary foods.
But how do we stop ourselves from eating too much sugar after lifting weights? We all know that excess sugar doesn’t equate to a healthy diet or blood sugar but what are the alternatives?
Our experts at Strength Ambassadors explain why we want to eat sugar after working out and how we can control our post workout nutrition. Let’s get to it!
Why do we crave sugar after intense workout sessions?
Your body’s attempt to replenish the fuel it has used and heal itself as soon as possible is essentially what sugar cravings are.
The two main energy sources in your body are fat and carbs. Your body naturally experiences hunger and a sugar need when your carbohydrate reserves are low. The natural urge for extra energy in your body is what is causing this sugar addiction.
Protein aids in the healing of the tiny tears in our bodies caused by exercise, while carbohydrates power our muscles. Our muscles’ need to restock their carbohydrate stores is what causes them to want to consume sugar. Now for the tricky part. Desserts with added sugar and carbohydrates have quick-releasing properties that help to swiftly restore storage and curb cravings.
How to avoid eating sugar after weightlifting
You can reduce your sugar intake and keep on your path to muscle growth with these tips from our personal trainers below!
Yes, good fats can get rid of all the sugar cravings and give your body slow-release energy.
Coconut oil is particularly good as it contains large amounts of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are easily digested and used as energy, giving you an energy boost without an insulin spike. But don’t get carried away and eat the whole jar!
Fish oil, full of omega 3 fats, will help to overcome the need for sugar. Omega 3 fats improve cell signalling, boosting brain power and improving mood. So reach for the fish oil instead of the biscuits to perform better at work.
If all else fails, a handful of nuts will satisfy cravings and keep you going.
Drink fruit or herbal tea
A fruit or herbal tea can cleanse the palate and leave you with a zingy taste that removes the desire for sweetness, especially after meals.
There are so many teas on the market now that you are never stuck for choice. They are also a great alternative to caffeine (which raises cortisol).
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. Take a scoop of glutamine powder in a large glass of water whenever you feel a sugar craving. Particularly useful for that mid-afternoon slump – keep some glutamine in your desk at work!
Do some high intensity exercise
Exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel good – removing the desire to self-medicate with sugar if you are feeling down, tired, lethargic or otherwise ‘meh’.
We’ve probably all heard that being hungry is often a result of being dehydrated. Drink plenty of water (alkalise it with a quarter of lemon or lime) to reduce your desire for naughty foods.
Eat small regular meals
Not eating properly or regularly is likely to induce cravings for sugar. Eat a protein- and fat-rich meal every three hours or so to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.
Eat before a workout
Eating before working out is another method to beat cravings. Your body can produce the immunological components required to maintain a balance between your physical and emotional well-being when you consume complex proteins instead of consuming sugar!
Protein can swiftly replenish the body’s nutrients after a strenuous activity, making smoothies an excellent post-workout food option.
Remember that there are differences in protein powders. Protein powders with added sugar should be avoided, as should artificially sweetened smoothies that could also include chemicals, fillers, and swelling agents.
Drink a ‘diet’ soft drink
This is not the ideal solution as diet soft drinks contain caffeine and artificial sweeteners. However, if used sparingly, they can be useful in satisfying a persistent craving for sugar, if all else fails.
Once a craving has taken hold, we tend to dwell on it. Distract yourself and the craving will probably go away. If you are indoors, go for a walk in the fresh air. Find someone to have a chat with, read something absorbing, listen to an uplifting piece of music!
Looking for expert weight lifting classes?
Some people may find that a strenuous workout increases their craving for sweets, according to preliminary studies. Since you use up more glycogen during an intense activity, the intensity of the workout might have an effect.
As a result, following a strenuous workout, an urge to consume a cookie or other sweet treat might become stronger. Also, you might not be as motivated to choose the healthiest foods since you’re mentally exhausted.
At Strength Ambassadors, our strength personal trainers are here to advise and motivate you to lift your best. We don’t care how much sugar you had after your last workout or your current body weight, we’ll take your strength journey to the next level.
We provide strength training, Olympic lifting, one-on-one powerlifting coaching, and more. Whether you’re a novice lifter or an experienced one, our staff of knowledgeable instructors can assist you in achieving your strength objectives.
Sugar and weightlifting FAQs
Why do weightlifters avoid sugar?
Simple sugar-rich foods typically have little nutritional value and can cause weight gain by storing fat, which obscures any muscle building. Nuts, avocados, and olive oil are examples of good fats that are essential to any diet, but they are especially important for weightlifters.
Do muscles absorb sugar?
Your muscles can better employ whatever insulin that is available to them to take up glucose both during and after exercise because of the increased sensitivity to insulin. Whether or not insulin is readily available, your cells can absorb glucose and use it as energy when your muscles contract during an exercise.
Is it good to eat a banana after a workout?
Bananas, like the majority of fruit, are a fantastic post-workout meal. By doing this, you can lessen inflammation and restore muscle glycogen stores, which will help you recover more quickly. Eating this fruit before or during exercise can be advantageous in addition to aiding in recuperation.