Afterwards, I wanted to eat everything in sight. I downed a banana, a few heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter and fistfuls of almonds -- and then I saw this on my laptop screen: An article in the L.A. Times discussing the tendency to overeat after intense exercise (a.k.a., "the post-workout binge").
While compensation can be triggered by particularly intense workouts, in most people it appears to be driven by a misunderstanding of how many calories a workout actually burns, [Louisiana State University professor Timothy] Church says. "People greatly overestimate how many calories they've burned," he says. "Forty-five minutes to an hour on a treadmill only burns 450 calories. You can neutralize it with one coffee and muffin at Starbucks or two glasses of wine that night." But the desire to compensate is also physiological, says Church. "No doubt the body wants to replenish," particularly after a grueling exercise routine.
The widespread availability of calorie-dense, carbohydrate-heavy foods complicates the problem, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Many people crave carbohydrates after a workout but, to a degree, that "taste" has been engineered by the marketing of energy bars and drinks packed with sugar, she says. "We've been conditioned, like Pavlov's dogs," says Bonci. "I don't know anyone who really craves a salad after working out."
And there's yet another complicating factor, says Brian Wansink, professor of consumer behavior and director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Many people will choose low-fat or low-sugar foods in order to adhere to an exercise or diet routine, but then allow themselves to eat more as a reward for choosing such foods, Wansink says.What a fucking buzzkill.