A really solid hangover can make you question your very existence, your purpose, every life choice you have made up to this moment.
But even in the midst of your sweatiest, vommiest hangover – there’s a part of you that knows this is the price you pay when you decide to have a sixth drink on a Tuesday. You can make your peace with that at least.
What doesn’t seem fair is to experience the pain of a hangover after doing something as virtuous as working out. But fitness hangovers are more common that you might think.
According to a recent American study, 25% of fitness loves have actually missed work because they felt so rough the day after a workout.
55% have suffered a workout hangover that’s so bad it caused them to stay inside all day. This is not the endorphin buzz that we were promised.
The fitness hangover isn’t just muscle soreness – it’s more than that. It genuinely feels like a hangover. You can be exhausted, nauseous, even anxious – and it’s putting a real dent in our fitness regimes.
Laura Malcolm is a Superleague netball player so training isn’t just a hobby – it’s her entire career. She also runs bespoke netball coaching sessions, so she can’t afford to feel unwell after a tough workout.
‘I usually get a fitness “hangover” when I’ve doubled up on sessions, or finish a hard training session late in the evening,’ Laura tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Sometimes I train for four hours with little or no break and this usually includes lifting to my max in the weights room followed by a beasting on the netball court.
‘If I give it my all in both sessions as well as getting home and into bed late, I know I’ll wake up the next morning with that hangover feeling. I’ll be lethargic, spaced out and have to peel myself out of bed.’
It’s not only elite athletes who are plagued by this unpleasant phenomenon. Junior Doctor Aishah Muhammad gets it too.
‘If I over-exercise or workout when mentally I’m not feeling it, I find myself exhausted the next day. I often feel mentally drained as a result,’ explains Aishah.
‘For me, that hangover feeling can be a mix of tiredness and sometimes feeling nauseated.’
So what’s going on? Why are our workouts causing us to crash out the next day?
There is actually a scientific reason.
‘It is quite common to feel rough after a tough workout,’ says Dr. Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress.
‘Firstly, strenuous exercise causes blood to be diverted away from the digestive system, to the muscles, heart and lungs.
‘If you eat a rich meal shortly before exercise, it won’t be digested properly, potentially causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
‘In addition, exercise uses up glucose, and glycogen stores, leading to nausea, headaches and shakiness.
‘Because blood vessels dilate during exercise, and fluid and salt is lost in the form of sweat, it is common for blood pressure to drop after a heavy exercise session, triggering light-headedness and weakness.
How to prevent a fitness hangover
Avoid excessively rich food before working out. Instead, eat a meal consisting mostly of carbohydrates and protein, two-three hours before starting. You can also eat a small carbohydrate snack 30-60 minutes before-hand.
Don’t drink fizzy drinks, which could cause bloating and heartburn.
Make sure you warm up gradually when exercising and also avoid stopping too abruptly.
The more regularly you exercise, the better you will be able to cope, so build up the intensity of your regime gradually, allowing your fitness to improve before pushing yourself too hard.
Don’t exercise at all if you’re already feeling unwell or fighting off a virus. Exercise diverts resources away from your immune system, so forcing yourself to exercise under these circumstances could make you ill.
Dr. Clare Morrison
If you do feel worse for wear after a workout, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery. And it’s pretty much all to do with your nutrition.
‘Do drink sufficient water to quench your thirst, but remember that drinking too much water, without eating a little salt, can make your salt levels fall too low,’ says Dr Morrison.
‘This will cause confusion, headaches, cramps, and nausea. So add a little salt to your food, perhaps in the form of crackers, salted nuts, or broth.
‘Do have something to eat ideally within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise routine.
‘Eat some unrefined carbs to top up glycogen stores, and lean protein to help repair tired muscles. For example, a good post-workout meal would be wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs, or tuna and brown rice.
‘Bananas are also ideal because, as well as being a good source of refined carbs, they also contain much-needed potassium.
‘Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which could make you more dehydrated and upset your stomach.’
So no hair of the dog for this kind of hangover then.
According to that American study, 60% of those surveyed said they don’t know enough about diet and recovery to know the best steps to take after exercise. And that could be the crux of the issue.
As well as resisting the urge to push your body too hard, it’s also really important to recover correctly after a workout.
Rest and recovery are vital elements in your workout routine that will not only make sure your avoid fitness burnout, but will also help you make gains in the long term.
If fitness hangovers are affecting you regularly, it might be time to take a closer look at what you do after a workout and figure out how you can be a bit kinder to your body.
I am Team GB
Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.
Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.
Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.
To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com
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