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After excercise snacking - make a workout work

It's important to keep up the daily exercise routine and don't let one or two dietary slip ups deter you from staying active.

I am a freelance journalist dedicated to travelling and keeping fit and healthy. A tragic (but proud) cat lady, I believe in the importance of staying strong, active and healthy in the most practical ways possible. I’m also committed to laughing every day, even if that means at myself…which is usually the case. -Robyn Box

You've just finished your daily exercise routine, be it 30 minutes on the treadmill, a walk with the dog or a highly competitive Frisbee competition with your partner (a fabulous workout, by the way), and now you want to reward yourself with something delicious. Nothing super fattening, but some kind of treat. And why not? You’ve already worked off the calories, and you need to replenish your body after a workout, right? 

Yes, you do. But perhaps not like a lot of us are doing - in a way that’s actually causing us to either put on weight or, at the very least, undo everything we just did.

Turns out the excuse we’re using that we 'need to refuel' is making us come unstuck, and causing us to become somewhat delusional about the state of our health.

"The biggest misconception is that we need to refuel our bodies after a 30 minute workout," says dietician Emma Stirling. "In fact, we often just need to increase our water intake instead of eating anything at all.'

A recent study by the Commonwealth Bank found gym memberships in Australia have increased by 49% since 2009, but the National Health and Medical Research Council found in 2011-12 around 60% of Australian adults were considered to be overweight or obese, with research suggesting that number will only increase. 

I’m no mathematician, but to me that doesn’t add up.

So what are we doing wrong? Could it be as simple as our eating habits after our exercise? Surely we've earned that one little choc chip cookie!

We're all a little bit guilty of falling into the 'after workout snack trap', which finds us thinking we have earned that piece of pizza or second glass of wine when really, all we have earned is a pat on the back and a reminder that tomorrow we need to exercise all over again.

It's not only the food we're eating after workouts that is tripping us up, but also what we're doing during exercise that may be causing problems. We often think we're doing the right thing by grabbing a sports drink to take to the gym, but it turns out these are often loaded with calories and sugar we don't need unless we're stepping up the pace.

"Unless you're doing endurance training or extended periods of exercise of over 90 minutes, skip the sports drink and opt for more water instead" says Emma.

If you’re not sure what constitutes a ‘sugary drink’ then perhaps check out this handy sugary drinks calculator and let me know if you’re appalled by the amount of sugar you consume just in drinks daily like I was. The catch is when we think we're doing the right thing and down a sports drink or load up on carbs to help our body replenish what it's lost during a workout.

"We can easily undo all our good work just by eating the wrong foods after exercise," says Emma, "if you need something after your workout, perhaps try a fruit smoothie with low fat milk and bananas or berries (homemade, not the kind you buy at the shops), or some whole meal bread with lean meat, tomatoes and avocado".

Above all else, it's important to keep up the daily exercise routine and don't let one or two dietary slip ups deter you from staying active.  But don't let your efforts be in vain, and follow it up with the right foods.

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