Poll: Do You Overeat After a Tough Workout?

A new study found that it's super easy to overestimate your calorie burn after high-intensity workouts.

Okay, so you’ve just completed an insanely challenging boot camp class at the gym and you feel awesome. Congratulations! You give yourself a mental pat on the back as you start to think about what you’ll make for dinner when you get home. Salmon and steamed broccoli? Nah. Marinated chicken kebobs on the grill? Meh. Pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni? Ding, ding, ding! After all, you think to yourself, I earned it.

Or did you?

A small new study found that people tend to seriously overestimate their calorie burn after tough workouts, a misstep that can lead you to over-reward yourself (read: overeat) later. The study included 18 women who completed four 30-minute treadmill workouts, ranging from low to vigorous intensity, and were asked to guesstimate their calorie burn after each one. After the most intense workouts, the subjects missed the mark by a long shot, overestimating their caloric output by 18 percent (!!).

The problem, of course, is that if you think you burned more calories than you actually did, you run the risk of going overboard when replacing those calories. That can be a major trap if weight loss is your goal.

I know for a fact I’ve done this on more than one occasion, especially when I first started getting serious about distance running. I’d do my long run on a Saturday morning and consider it carte blanche for eating whatever the heck I felt like for the rest of the weekend. Which I’m sure is the exact mindset that causes many people—the majority of which are women—to gain weight while training for marathons.

The whole thing makes me wonder: How many other Be Wellers suspect they eat too much after a tough workout? Do you give yourself a free pass for pizza and cupcakes? Or are you more mindful of your eating, even after a particularly awesome sweat session? Take the poll below and leave your thoughts, tips and advice in the comments.