Fit Feminists Answer · nutrition

You Ask, Fit Feminists Answer: Do you have to start eating more food if you exercise and get muscles?

This is the fourth in a new series where we answer readers’ questions. If you have questions send them our way, using the “contact us” form on the left hand side of the blog. I’ll forward them to the appropriate blogger. We’re not experts by any means but we do have a wealth of real world experience with many, many physical activities.

Cate: I think the feminist answer is “you don’t HAVE TO do anything” 😉

Christine: My immediate (non-expert) response is that you may find that building muscle leaves you feeling hungrier. If it does, you may want to change what/when/how much you eat.
The goal would be to ensure that you have the energy you need so your body can do what you need it to. Eat in whatever way serves that goal best, but please don’t get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ of eating.

Kim: I agree with Christine: exercise and muscle-building generally takes more energy than you’d otherwise expend (if you are doing it correctly, it will tire you out and make you hungry), which means your body needs fuel to recharge and rebuild. Listening to your body here is a good idea, but at the same time my own experience has been that I sometimes over-eat when I’m fatigued and really hungry from exercise. So listening to your body when it says it’s hungry is good, but so is listening to it when it’s full (even if you might not immediately think you could or should be full yet). I’d also say that shifting or beginning an exercise routine is a good time to have a look at what you’re eating, and to ask yourself if you’re eating the best things to help your body recharge well and build muscle. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to do consult someone about nutrition choices, and about the best choices you can make given all of your lifestyle factors. (There’s no one easy solution or plan.) But finally: yes, eating more will happen, and yes, that is a proper, good thing!

Tracy: I think the short answer is “no,” you don’t have to eat more food but sometimes when people start working out seriously they start to think of food differently, as a way of fueling their workouts for optimum performance. It’s also often recommended (though this doesn’t make it a “have to”) that people follow a resistance training session with a protein rich meal.

Sam: I think it depends on what you’re doing. Cyclists need to eat while riding and often struggle with consuming enough calories on the bike. After riding you might be ravenous but you don’t need to eat as much as you might think. It takes awhile to work this stuff out. Ditto with what you eat. Experiment. This stuff varies between people so figure out what’s best for you.

Okay, blog community, over to you… What’s your answer?

Donuts covered in fruit slices
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “You Ask, Fit Feminists Answer: Do you have to start eating more food if you exercise and get muscles?

  1. Hey! Is it a cosmic coincidence that I just asked this question on facebook? 😉 That answer about protein after resistance training is new to me and useful.
    The first 5 months I bouldered, I lost a lb a month without thinking about it. And got a lot more visible muscle development than ever. (With some core exercises from physio, related to knee/arm problems.) I also found myself more aware of getting full, with or without the question climbing gives you–do I want to carry that almond croissant up the wall the next time I climb?
    I didn’t set out to lose weight, but since I had put an on over-work induced 10 lbs about 7 years ago that never came off when I stopped that particular brand of over-working (all-nighters fuelled by chocolate bars), this was welcome.
    Then in one month I lost 5 more lbs and got two colds. Next, I read online in a climber’s magazine that that sort of thing can happen if you over-train and/or don’t adjust your nutrition.
    At the same time, my usual eating changed due to partner keto at the same time I started bouldering, and then the holidays came and went.
    I’m aware now that I tend to eat the quantity that’s normal for me, but since the holidays, I’m ravenously hungry and can’t decide whether it’s stress (new course prep), having muscles in daily life or doing the kind of resistance training that is bouldering, or getting over holiday chocolate binges. The complex causality of physical and somatic experiences often confounds!

    Liked by 1 person

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