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Choose Food First, Then Hit The Gym

Why people should pick their postworkout snacks before exercising.

A healthy postexercise snack can kickstart recovery, whereas a poor food choice can quickly undo a good workout.

A study in the journal Nutrients suggests we can boost nutrition after exercise by encouraging people to choose their postworkout snacks in advance. University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers found that when people were asked to decide before a workout whether they wanted an apple or a chocolate brownie, they were more likely to choose the fruit. By contrast, subjects selected the less-healthy option more often when directed to choose their food after a workout. So, if clients are striving to shed a few pounds and eat a healthier diet, you might suggest they choose a postworkout snack before going to the gym, not when they’re hungry afterward.

Meanwhile, a report in the International Journal of Obesity found that after participating in an exercise program for 15 weeks, formerly sedentary college students were more likely to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables without being told to do so. Thus, physical activity can influence dietary behavior for the better.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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