A lot of people exercise to lose weight. This is a given. But exercise can also be used a tool for self control.
When you exercise, you obviously burn calories and increase your metabolism. Your body also releases "happy hormones," like dopamine and adrenaline, that help you feel satisfied and in control. Many people avoid eating following a workout because either their appetite is low or they find it easy to say no to calories.
Those feelings of self control and satisfaction are actually the perfect excuse to say yes to a snack because those "happy hormones" help put protein back in the muscle and help return blood sugar levels to normal so you avoid the crash and binge later. However, the snack must be appropriate and eaten within 30 minutes of finishing a workout.
The result is a maintenance of lean mass (muscle) and a stimulus to help the body burn more fat.
What is the perfect post-workout snack? Chocolate milk has been marketed that way due to its ideal ratio of carbs to protein. But there are so many others! The best rule of thumb is to eat approximately 30 grams of carbohydrate and 7-10 grams of protein per hour of cardio or strength-based exercise. Here are some examples:
• 8” tortilla with 1 TBSP peanut butter: 200 calories, 30 gms carb, 5 gms protein
• Kashi GoLean Crunch bar: 150-180 calories, 27-30 gms carb, 8-9 gms protein
• ¼ cup lowfat cottage cheese with ½ cup fruit: 100 calories, 18 gms carb, 7 gms protein
• ¼ cup high fiber cereal (like fiberone harvest clusters) with 6 oz light (fat free) yogurt: 155 calories, 31 gm carb, 7 gm protein
• 1 Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedge spread on Orowheat Sandwich Thin: 135 calories, 25 grams carb, 7 gms protein
• ¼ cup almonds with medium apple: 200 calories, 20 gms carb, 6 grams protein
• Light string cheese with 1 oz whole grain crackers (16 wheat thins or similar): 190 calories, 24 gms carb, 9 gms protein
• 12 oz Fruit smoothie made with nonfat milk or yogurt, fruit: 200 calories, 40 gms carb, 8 gms protein
• Grilled Cheese Sandwich (whole wheat/whole grain bread and 1 slice 2% cheese): 200 calories, 25 grams carb, 10 gms protein
• ½ cup frozen yogurt (fat free): 100 calories, 19 gms carb, 4 gms protein
• ½ cup soft serve frozen yogurt (fat free-TCBY): 110 calories, 23 gms carb, 4 gms protein
• Starbucks' Grande (16 oz) Skinny Latte (iced-hot): 80-130 calories, 12-19 grams carb, 7-12 grams protein