This is why you crave dessert on the days you work out

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After pushing yourself to the limit at boot camp, chances are you’re either not hungry at all or you want something healthy, like a green juice or smoothie. But fast-forward to after dinner—and you might start eyeing that pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer. According to a new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, you’re wired to crave junk food post-workout—it’s totally not your fault.

In the study, researchers asked volunteers to hold a joystick and look at photos of things ranging from ordinary objects to sugary desserts. The joystick pulled toward the body when a participant saw something that made him or her feel particularly happy. After that fun little game, half the participants did an aerobic workout. Then then they did the test again. Guess which group gravitated toward the dessert images?

So why exactly does your body want to undo all of your hard work? The scientists who worked on the study say it’s because your body is looking for a way to regain all the energy the body just lost. And hey, junk food is a fast way to down a whole bunch of calories.

The best way to give your body what it really wants is to have some protein after you work out (like by eating one of these snacks) and when that sweet tooth takes over after dinner—but you don’t want to fill up on junk—reach for something delicious and healthy, like vegan ice cream or cacao banana and buckwheat brownies. See? You can still work out and have your cake (and “nice” cream) too.

Wondering what else to eat post workout? All the meals on this list pack more than 20 grams of protein. And these frozen desserts will give you energy—not a sugar high. 

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