Are you overeating because you’ve been to the gym?

WASHINGTON — A workout at the gym may have some people thinking that it’s OK to eat more.

Wearable devices that track your movements and information displayed on exercise equipment indicating calories burned can be helpful tools, said Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires. But don’t take that information too literally.

That’s because for some people, their eating habits are directly influenced by that information, Squires said.

Squires said that researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have studied this and found that people who were told that they had burned many more calories during a workout ate significantly more than those who thought they had burned a lot less during their workout.

“We have to remember that how many calories we burn during a workout depends on your weight, gender, how much muscle you have and the intensity of the activity,” she said. “And we also have to remember how little it takes to add up those calories later. For example, walking 1 mile burns about 100 calories, in general. If we have a basic latte, that’s 150 calories. And a small bag of potato chips is also 150 calories.”

Squires said the good news is that most people don’t fall into the trap of eating more because they think they’ve burned more calories. But it does happen. And it can affect more men than women.

Researchers have found that about two-thirds of people who exercise show no increased food intake after their workouts. However, about 20 percent of people do eat more afterward.

And apparently how the activity is labeled makes a difference. Squires said research suggests if you label an activity as “fat-burning,” people tend to react by eating more than if you were to characterize the activity as “endurance.”

So how do you know if the information about calories-burned is accurate?

Squires said nothing is going to be exactly accurate, so she suggested using multiple resources. Compare the information from the wearable device on your wrist with activity and calorie information on your smartphone.

She also suggested checking out Sparkpeople.com as well as the Mayo Clinic. These sites have calculators to help you determine how many calories you may be burning based on your activity and your weight.

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