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?