Do you spend a lot of time walking, running or at the gym but find you’re still struggling to lose weight?
Well, fitness experts have warned it could be due to too-big rewards for too-little exercise.
While keeping active and fit is beneficial to our overall health, it may take a lot longer than you would expect to burn off the calories in a slice of cake.
A recent US study, conducted by scientists at the University of Washington, has shown that although there is a growing trend for Americans to be more active the health-craze has failed to put a dent into the national obesity epidemic.
“There’s a war between exercise and nutrition in our heads,” says Jonathon Ross, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.
“People tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity they get. They work out a little bit and treat themselves a lot,” said the personal trainer, adding that exercise is important to shifting those kilos but there it is limited if not accompanied by broader lifestyle and diet changes.
“We put exercise in a box and once that exercise box is filled in we don’t do much the rest of the day,” Ross explained, arguing that a post-workout calorie-dense treat isn’t helping anyone.
“Some (weight-loss) programs stress nutrition, some stress exercise,” he said. “But the two together are greater than the parts.”
That being said, no one can deny the power that rewards for good behaviour can have on keeping out fitness motivation high.
So what are some guilt-free alternatives that will aid your post-workout routine and keep you enthused? Here a selection of our own personal favourite post-fitness rewards and some low-calorie alternatives suggested by personal trainers:
- Treat your body: Going for a massage, getting a facial, or having your nails done may be more expensive than a trip to the ice-cream parlour or bakery. But it’s also a lot better for your post-workout recovery. Taking care of you is all part of the state-of-mind needed to achieve better results for yourself.
- Hit the shops: Retail therapy is a great way to reward your hard work. What better way to show off the results of your fitness routine than a new garment or outfit that makes you look and feel good.
- Purchase a song or two or work on a new fitness playlist: Music is a great motivator. It can mean the difference between powering through instead of giving a half-effort to the last 30 minutes of your workout. Variation is the key here, like your exercise regime; music should be updated and changed regularly.
- Food: While using food, as a reward is a huge diet no-no, you can reward the hard work with some fuel for your body that can also aid recovery. While eating a snack before your workout will ensure you have energy, a snack after exercise will benefit your body by replenishing energy stores and repairing muscle. You’ll want to choose ones that are ample in protein but also include some carbohydrates. Here are 5 top snacks post workout:
– Protein shake and a banana
– Greek Yoghurt with fruit and nuts
– Hummus or peanut butter with pita or wholemeal bread
– Low-fat chocolate milk
– Tuna with wholegrain crackers