It is a mantra that has been uttered by every personal trainer to walk the Earth: Abs are made in the kitchen. A lifestyle change should be 30% workouts and 70% diet. It doesn’t matter how long you’re in the gym, you can’t out-treadmill poor eating habits. But that advice may need some tweaking. Could there be a way to eat all the french fries you want while protecting your body from their harmful, fat filled repercussions?
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According to a study done by the American Physiological Society, a quick, full intensity workout could save you from high calorie foods. In clinical testing, scientists looked at twenty adolescents (ten being male) and their body’s reaction to consuming high fatty meals after exercise. They had three, 1-day trials.
Day 1 was a rest day to gauge baseline data. On the second day, the subjects participated in eight minutes of high intensity cycling. This was broken up into one minute intervals, eight times, with 75 seconds to recover in between. On the third and final day, participants also exercised via cycling, except for 25 minutes at a medium intensity. An hour after all of these trials, the subjects consumed a meal consisting of fatty foods. It was found that after the quick, high intensity workout (Day 2), subjects were actually less affected by the fatty meal for up to three hours.
Let’s back track for a second and take a look at how your body reacts when you consume a high fat meal. Chances are, you don’t even know this is happening. Research shows that the consumption of just one high fat meal can lead to vascular constraint. It’s that sluggish feeling you get after you down a plate of fries and a chocolate milkshake. While it’s not as aggressive as a migraine or stomach cramps, damage is still being done inside your body. High fat diets have been proven to cause inflammation around the tissue that surrounds your blood vessels. This leads to a hardening of the arteries. Ultimately, the combination of inflamed fat tissue and malfunctioning arteries leads to cardiovascular disease. Nearly 800,000 Americans die from cardiovascular diseases every year.
So why does such a short, high intensity workout prove to almost reverse the normal way our body absorbs fat? High intensity workouts protect against the deteriorating effects of fatty foods by expanding the blood vessels to accommodate the intense workout. Although a moderate workout is great, it doesn’t kick your heart rate up to a level that allows this.
But before you splurge your heart out, there’s consideration to be taken. More factors need to be explored here, including age, current weight, sex, and resting metabolic rate. What may be incredibly compelling in male test subjects could only be slightly improved in female subjects, because male’s have naturally faster metabolism. There is also no evidence to suggest that these results will be the same for those who are in their early 30s and not adolescence.
As promising at this study is, it shouldn’t cause you to throw nutrition to the wind. It is still important to fuel your body properly. This means fruits, veggies, and proteins that give you the vitamins to keep your system moving. And yes, you should be eating carbs, how else will your metabolism keep burning? Food is fuel at the end of the day. But splurging every one and a while can be beneficial, so why not splurge after a hard core, high intensity ten minutes in the gym?
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What do you think this study needs to look at next?