We all deserve a treat after all the hard work at the gym! Who doesn’t like one, right? It’s like a reward for pushing through whatever struggles we may have encountered and becoming triumphant in the end.
After a very exhausting workout, some of us prefer to sleep but the majority of us will struggle to resist those tempting sugar cravings.
If you’re curious to find out why these sweet cravings are stronger after a tiring workout then keep reading this article.
Blame it on Science
Don’t feel bad about your lack of willpower. You don’t have to entirely blame yourself for your intense desire to devour some appetizing desserts. Wanna know why? It’s because this instinct to satisfy your cravings for delectable treats is normal. Yes, you read that right! Research has shown that working out makes people crave for sweets, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology.1
The researchers from the University of Massachusetts examined 88 students with a test called "approach-avoidance". This test assessed and measured their responses to certain stimuli by showing them a variety of photos ranging from scrumptious desserts up to random household items.
The participants were all given a joystick and they were told to pull if a particular image made them happy. After finishing the test, they were split into two groups. The first half of the group were instructed to exercise on a stationary bike for 20 minutes, while the rest were given a computer-based brain puzzle game.
After their respective activities, both groups took the first test again. The results? The volunteers in the workout group were more drawn and attracted to those enticing images of sugary treats than their peers from the memory test group.
The researchers theorized that this may be due to our bodies’ evolutionary drive to look for a way to recover lost energy. By craving sugar-heavy desserts, our bodies are telling us that we need to quickly replenish burned workout calories after physical effort exertion. And since eating these sweet treats is a fast way to refuel, our bodies need to satisfy these cravings start to intensify after a tiring workout.
While there aren’t many studies on this subject, Nora Minno, a registered dietician, hypothesized that our bodies are probably looking for a way to restore glycogen (the storage form of glucose). Heather Milton, a senior exercise physiologist, on the other hand, revealed that our glycogen stores decrease during crunch time and this is why our bodies start to use more sugar in our blood for energy. According to her, our blood sugar levels drop when our muscle glycogen stores are low, which causes our bodies to release more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) to signal our brain that it’s time to get something to eat.
Craving for some sweet treats after exercising is normal. What’s not normal? Overindulging to the point where all your hard work goes out the window because you ate more than you burned.
Don’t feel bad about yourself every time you experience post-workout cravings for sugar-heavy desserts. Always remember that as long as you indulge in moderation then you don’t have to feel guilty every time your stomach wants a quick post-exercise sugar fix.