Beware the Exercise Halo
By Amy Horwitz, Nutritionist
A great sweat session can make you feel like a health angel, but these post-workout myths and not so healthy habits can adversely affect your waistline:
Myth #1: My metabolism is higher after a workout, so this bite will burn right off.
Ah, the afterburn effect. That's when your body uses energy to return to a resting state. "It sounds great, but even very intense exercise lasting more than 45 minutes burns less than 100 extra calories. The Bottom Line: Skip the cool-down nibble: Doing it five times a week saves you up to 500 calories—the equivalent of a Spin class you don't actually take!
Myth #2: I burned mega calories this morning. I can eat what I want today.
Define mega. Research shows we grossly overestimate our sizzle. A University of Ottawa study found that people who burned 200 calories by walking briskly thought they had burned 825. "And they later overate by about 350 calories based on their miscalculations," says study author Eric Doucet, Ph.D. The Bottom Line: Don't just guess your calories burned; tally them in a reliable way using our calculator. For most women, a brisk walk zaps 5 calories per minute (225 in 45 minutes).
Myth #3: I kicked boot camp booty. I deserve a treat after my hard work.
True, but reward yourself with food and you're likely to stall your slim-down. "Run 40 minutes at a 9-minute-mile pace and you'll burn about 470 calories; grab a Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappucino afterward and you'll replace those calories plus an extra 20," Braun says. The Bottom Line: "It's incredibly easy to negate the weight loss effects of exercise with a single food item, so find other ways to indulge yourself," Braun says. Try inedible rewards such as a relaxing pedicure or new songs for your workout playlist.
Do you find yourself indulging in any of the above behaviors post-workout? Are there any habits you are unsure about? Leave us a comment and we’ll let you know if your pre or post-workout habit is helpful or harmful!