Training for endurance events means you can eat whatever you want, right? Not quite. Ask any marathoner who’s gained weight over the course of their training and they’ll kindly inform you otherwise. But run 20 miles in a single session and inevitably “runger” (AKA hunger caused by running) will set in, Huffington Post reports.
It’s that insatiable feeling when you decide you can – and should! – eat everything in sight, immediately. And in those precious post-run moments, you manage to undo that 2,000-calorie burn by eating an entire 2,320-calorie pizza.
The logic starts off sound enough. After burning energy on the track, you crave a mega-dose of calories to replenish what you’ve lost. Plus, you need enough in the tank to fuel your upcoming workout, too. But a full stack of pancakes (as a side dish to your French toast) might not be the best call.
This is because after you run, your metabolism may be downgraded at other times of the day to conserve energy, says Pip Taylor, professional triathlete and nutritionist. It’s not uncommon for your hunger to spike later in the day or even the next day.
Runger Pangs: How do you recognise actual hunger from what you think is hunger and learn when you should or shouldn’t eat more? We called in the experts for their tips to help you manage your runger, once and for all.
1. Assess your effort. If you’re running less than an hour per day, there’s no need to increase your daily intake, says Taylor. However, you do need to be sure that you are refuelling properly post-workout. “The biggest mistake athletes make is under-fuelling (after a run),” she says. While this is sometimes done intentionally to lose weight, always consult with a pro before running on empty (AKA fasted cardio) or skipping post-run nutrition, particularly after a more demanding run.
2. Fuel for thought. When that ravenous hunger does kick in, our bodies don’t always register immediately that we’re full. This is when it’s easy to overcompensate and consume excess calories. To prevent this, aim to match tougher workouts with increased fuel immediately before or after workouts, rather than make your base meal larger. For example, try having a banana before or during a training sessions for extra fuel or a small recovery smoothie right after, so you’re not hitting the dinner buffet table hard.
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