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How do I avoid starving after a hard workout?

The question: I am always starving when I finish my evening workout, but I don't want to add a bunch of calories to my day by snacking all afternoon. Any advice on what I should eat throughout the day?

The answer: Figuring out a pre-exercise nutrition regimen can be tricky.

If you eat too much, you feel ill during your workout. Once, I had breakfast too close to a marathon and my stomach was so upset I almost couldn't finish the race. Yuk.

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On the flip side, if you eat too little before exercising, you risk diminished performance, low energy and being so famished post-workout that you eat everything in sight.

Set yourself up for success by eating breakfast. A healthy breakfast will decrease your hunger throughout the day, which will hopefully help you make healthier food choices.

Next, consider splitting your lunch into two smaller meals. This will help you stay energized without making you eat unwanted calories.

For example, if you usually have a sandwich and a salad for lunch, have half the sandwich and salad at lunch and the other half of the sandwich as a snack. Have roughly 60 per cent of the calories you would usually have for lunch around noon, then the other 40 per cent in the late afternoon.

Since the first 30 to 45 minutes post-workout is critical for recovery, I highly suggest planning what you will eat in advance.

For me, being prepared is a must because I find making good food choices hard after an evening workout; I become mindless about my eating and grab anything when I am so hungry. This is especially true when I have not fuelled enough beforehand.

To combat this, I try to bring a post-workout snack to the gym and have healthy things prepped in the fridge. I like to have cut-up vegetables, salad greens and precooked sweet potatoes and chicken in the fridge – essentially a nutritious meal that I can always assemble quickly.

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Trainer's tip: Stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. I often find I mistake thirst for hunger and end up eating when I actually need to drink something.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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