The diet-exercise combination: Don’t blow the benefits of your workout

WASHINGTON — Working out in the morning is a good way to get in shape, but it’s easy to undo the good you’ve done by slipping into bad eating habits later in the day, in part because of the feeling that you’ve earned a bit of indulgence.

Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires told WTOP that diet and exercise each have a role to play in the quest to lose a few pounds.

Studies suggest that exercise helps to decrease hunger, Squires said, by reducing ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone. But “as the day wears on,” she said, “we feel pretty virtuous, and we overcompensate for the exercise we’ve done, and eat more.”

You can’t really lose weight with just diet or exercise; you need both. A three-mile run will only burn about 300 to 450 calories, Squires said, and a heavy snack will undo that right away. But if you eat about 250 calories less per day, and exercise about 250 calories more, that works out to 500 calories per day, which could add up to about a pound lost per week.

“Which may sound slow to a lot of people,” Squires said, “but it’s slow and steady and safe.”

That said, a snack after a workout is “a good idea,” Squires said, especially after a weights-based workout.

A high-protein snack can help rebuild the muscles what you’ve just worked. Squires suggested nuts, a glass of milk, a cheese stick, turkey jerky, some bean dip or peanut butter and a few crackers. “The main thing is, you don’t want to overdo it.”

Squires added that one team of researchers has suggested that there may be merit in exercising after eating a meal, to enhance the satiating effects of the food.

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