It’s common for athletes or active people, especially those doing high-intensity training, to want to get in as many calories in as possible to sustain energy levels as well as to maintain weight goals. However, it’s easy to go overboard, so we show you how to avoid overeating and why…
Many athletes presume that they need to eat a mountain of food just because they’re super active – that’s not quite true. Yes, as an active person you need to ensure your body gets in more calories than a non-active person, but what’s more important is, getting in the right types of “fuel” to sustain high volumes of work.
The most basic principle for any athlete’s diet (or anyone’s diet) is that you should eat enough of the right foods that will sustain energy but not body fat.
It goes without saying that your body converts the foods you eat into energy essential for performance. However, many diets leave you in a space where even if you are eating the right foods you are still unsure about how much to consume to ensure you sustain optimum energy levels before, during and after a workout. Often this leads to overeating and sometimes even under-eating.
How to Avoid Overeating
Eat natural foods. Natural foods generally have a lower caloric density – diets like the Paleo diet promote this style of eating while also promoting the consumption of natural foods which have higher caloric densities.
Consume energy boosting foods. Our article on 10 energy boosting foods highlights great options on what you can eat regularly to promote higher energy levels. They are great for snacks between meals and sustaining your energy levels will help with the feeling of diminished energy levels which often promote overeating.
Avoid training on an empty stomach. Although this might sound contrary to “overeating”, but training on an empty stomach often leads to heightened hunger and overeating after intense activity. Read our article on pre-workout nutrition for a good idea of how to eat before training.
Don’t reward yourself after a workout with a cheat meal or bad food choices. If part of your meal plan is to eat post-work, then make sure you eat the right foods that promote recovery and help build muscle. Ensure you stick to your diet or meal plan to avoid this.
Energy in, is energy out. Try monitoring the amount of calories you consume and the amounts of calories you’re burning in an active day. Measuring food intake and energy output can be painstaking, but doing it for a short period (one full cycle of training and eating – like a week or so). Once you visually get an idea of what meal portions are necessary, you can better plan size of meals without measuring each time.
Eat slower. Although something we’ve heard over and over, it takes up to 12 or more minutes for food satisfaction signals to reach the brain (20 or more minutes for an obese person). Slowing down your eating helps your brain gets those signals through before you end up consuming too much. Again, a meal plan and predetermined meal portions would eliminate this all-together.
Eat until you feel good and not until you feel full. Don’t stuff yourself until you feel ill – rather eat until you feel satisfied at each meal. Also eat those foods with the right nutrients and vitamins, rather than eat for calories. By eating the correct foods, you’ll get the essential “fuel” that benefits your mental and physical performance.
Bio-individuality is a term which basically means that you should consider what works for you, because our uniqueness means we’ll react differently to different situations. Eat the correct foods which will sustain energy levels and not fat. It’s a trial and error method that will see you getting the best performance results and long-term health benefits.
What other tried methods have worked for you to avoid overeating, while still getting in enough calories to sustain energy levels?