There's nothing wrong with being hungry for a meal. However, as athletes and fitness enthusiasts, meal-time is often a confusing time for many. As you continue your quest to develop a healthy relationship with food as well as appreciate the "fuel" that you put into your body, my number one tip to prevent overeating at meals (regardless if a workout preceeds the meal) as well as to prevent cravings after the meal, is to have a pre-meal snack. If you do workout before the meal, you have no excuse to go into the meal starving because as athletes, seeking performance gains (or body composition changes) from our training/exercise sessions, we want to be sure that we focus on nutrient timing, specifically the post-workout recovery snack.
I believe that one of the missing links in weight loss, weight maintenance and performance gains is that people are too concerned with calories in vs calories out, especially around workouts. For having a glass of milk or a scoop of whey protein post-workout should not be seen as "extra" calories but rather the continuation of your workout. While quality, easy-to-digest protein-rich foods will provide the essential amino acids necessary to help repair damaged tissues, a "light" workout can be completed with a small 100 calorie or less snack - emphasizing "real" food rather than consuming bars (as an example).
It's important that you have a plan (a "menu" if you will) to help as you learn the strengths and weakness's in your current eating routine that will help fuel your lifestyle and workout routine. On that plan, don't forget to include post training snacks OR pre-meal snacks. Depending on your exercise/training routine, be sure to plan for an opportunity to slow down digestion, prevent overeating, prevent cravings and ensure proper fuel storage of food, by planning for a pre-meal snack. Easy pre-meal snacks would be veggies and hummus, cheese and apple slices, nuts, a little yogurt, a few triscuits w/ PB. You'd be surprised that a less than 100 calorie snack can be the saving grace when it comes to feeling little control when it comes to eating after workouts or when you get home from work.
For some people, there is an opportunity to make meals before workouts. Perhaps you have never thought of this before but preparing dinner (or your lunch for the day) prior to a workout can also help you out as you continue your nutrition journey. For after a late day workout, something quick, fast and comforting is likely on your mind. Although a salad takes around 5 minutes to prepare, my next suggestion is to prepare your meal BEFORE working out. If you have no idea as to what you want for dinner, make a quick salad so atleast you have something to "go-to" that is filled with vitamins and minerals, when you return from your workout...after your recovery protein snack.
On Wednesday, Campy and I were super excited to join a few runners from the Jacksonville Running Company. The group was meeting at Tijuana Flats, which is about 1.8 miles away from where we live. After my morning swim + strength session, plus a busy day at the hospital, I took Campy on a quick walk and it was time to catch up on emails until it was time to make dinner. Around 5:15 I started the oven (450 degrees), sliced a potato, tossed it in olive oil and sprinkled it with paprika and pepper. Into the oven....done in about 20 minutes.
I then sliced firm tofu and started grilling it on a pan (medium heat) in olive oil and heated frozen broccoli and corn in the microwave. Once the tofu was a little golden brown and ready to flip I added the broccoli and corn and flipped tofu to the other side. I added some sliced onion, chopped garlic and bell pepper and by the time the potatoes were done, it was time to turn off the stove and get my dinner ready.
I waited until my dinner cooled (which I shared with Karel) and then put it in the fridge. I covered the potatoes and also put them out in the fridge.
At 6:15, Campy and I ran to meet the runners and then ran back home. A total of almost 4 miles...the longest run for both me since Kona and the longest run for Campy since last May.
By the time I got home around 7, I felt no rush as to what I will eat. My dinner was ready and I was able to do my stretches, have my glass of milk and feel great about what I was about to put into my body after my fantastic run with Campy.
Sometimes we don't have the opportunity to prepare a meal before a workout but by planning ahead and thinking about previous meals, you'd be surprised that you have a lot of control over your body both in what you choose to feed it and what it says to you when it's time to eat.