Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The best time to eat cookies

I have a huge sweet tooth.  There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't eat a cookie or candy or cake or ice cream or something that is filled with sugar.

With my addiction to sugar, I really try to keep it under control and I think I am often better when I am not training hard because I am more conscious that what I eat wont actually be burned off because I am not exercising as much.  That being said, I usually try to only eat the serving size of 3 oreos or 6 peach rings (although that doesn't always work out for me).  I often tend to overdose on sugar and then feel guilty about it.  The worst time of day for me is after dinner around 8:30/9pm when I get a little bored and end up in the kitchen, rummaging for a snack.  Sometimes I eat sweets out of boredom and sometimes I eat them because I feel like I deserve them.

 The point is that even though I am training for a race, I don't want to give up the treats.  One of the reasons I run is because I want to be able to eat the cookies and cake and not gain weight.  I know that if I did not workout, I would most likely weigh more.

This summer in an effort to fuel my body better I have cut out the cookies at lunch.  At first I went from cookies to animal crackers but recently I have even cut back on those.  I have been trying to eat less of the sugary stuff in the middle of day since I usually just sit on my butt from 8am-5pm.

A few weeks ago I did a little bit of research on when the best time to eat the sugary sweets would be and found that the best time to eat cookies is after a workout.  I think that is the best news ever.

Here's the science behind it -

When you run (or do any type of exercise) you use up muscle glycogen for fuel during the workout.  So after that intense workout, your body becomes more sensitive to sugar intake because it is trying to refuel.  Your body wants something with a high glycemic index so that it can be digested quickly and then rushed to the muscles that need replenishing (source).

The best part is that when you ingest the carbohydrates post workout, your body produces insulin that then injects the digested carbohydrate molecule into a muscle cell for use later as energy.  If you didn't workout and ate those same carbohydrates, the insulin in your body would instead cram the molecule into a fat cell (source).

I am not saying that eating just cookies after a workout is a good idea.  Ideally eating a balanced meal after a workout and then eating some cookies would be a good idea because you are actually helping your body refuel and repair the muscles that you just used.

Over the past few weeks I have tried to not eat cookies after dinner unless I have done an afternoon workout.  That actually doesn't really work well for me.  I sometimes don't have good self control and I really enjoy an after dinner sweet.  So instead I have really focused on limiting myself to one or two cookies and making sure that I fill up on good foods.

Eating less sugar really is a process, I know there is a lot of research out there that says sugar is bad for you.  I just haven't found the will power yet to completely give up sugar and sweets.  It really is about accessing your own body and seeing where you want to make improvements that work for you.  As for right now, I don't think I am going to be completely giving up my cookies anytime soon!

If you are a runner - do you give up all cookies and candy while in training? Do you find not eating sugar actually helps your performance??


Marlene said...

Definitely have a big weakness for sweets & all treats! I generally don't keep them in the house since I have NO self control... but then it I find myself having access to cookies, there is a good chance of a binge.

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Now I have a craving for something sweet! I try not to keep any of that stuff in the house because my self control is not very good.

Jamie said...

We don't give it up, but we usually never have it in the house. Eating cookies right after working out sounds good to me though!

Johann said...

I could have written this post! I am a huge sugar addict and even take lots of sugar in my coffee. My only control is not to have any access to anything sweet. Not easy!

Anonymous said...

i love love love cookies! they are my downfall. I can bak a batch and eat the whole thing by myself!

Anonymous said...

I'm addicted to chocolate! I can not stop eating it and actually feel I can eat more while training for a marathon... for extra energy :)

Suz and Allan said...

I always allow myself to have a treat especially on a day when I've had a long run. Those days never seem to be when I want to eat the sweets though. It's always the days that I don't do anything that I want to eat sweets.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

I read that somewhere several years ago so I often don't feel bad having a treat after a good workout. But usually i crave sweets later in the day. I don't cut out all sweets/sugar because that would make me crazy, but in the last year I've really tried to cut back on processed food in general for health.

Sweat Is My Sanity said...

Great news!!! :) I remember last Christmas with constant treats being delivered to my door I actually at one point left for my run with two cookies in hand. Ha! :) Jessica

Nicole Orriëns said...

I don't know if it helps my performance, because I never tried it. For me one of the points of running is being allowed to have my cookie and eat it, without the consequence of weight gain.