Can You Balance a Big Meal With Exercise?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • I saw this in the local paper the other day and had to laugh.  A local New York personal trainer has decided to thwart the impact of a high fat restaurant dinner by recommending that clients do marathon walking to and from the restaurant.  She and her husband were craving a high calorie meal at a favorite BBQ hang out and she immediately thought up the idea that if she and her husband trekked the 8 mile walk to and from the restaurant it would be a calorie-licking strategy.  They now recommend the strategy to friends, clients and even strangers.  Most jump at the chance to be gluttons but still feel good about themselves.  They do, however acknowledge, that it may be hard for the average person to walk with enough intensity and for a long enough distance to balance out the calories.

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    Here's my position as a Health Coach.  The first problem is that when you eat a single meal that is extremely high in sugar, fat, white carbohydrates, salt and even calories means that you put your arterial system and especially your heart at risk.  That one meal can overwhelm your digestive system and place an unmanageable burden on your heart.  If you have soft plaque in your arteries, this situation can cause enough inflammation to instigate a piece of plaque breaking off and causing a heart attack.  Top heavy single meals are dangers, even when your overall daily calorie count remains reasonable.  Of course, most Americans are eating those calorie heavy meals on top of other calorie heavy or fat laden meals.


    Problem number two involves exercise efforts after a calorie heavy meal.  Though some people can manage exertion after eating substantial calories, most health experts would caution that a fast-paced, very long walk might interfere with digestion and cause the average out-of-shape person some physical challenges.  Sure, a 30 minute ambling walk after a heavy meal is a great idea - a marathon walk is another story.  The average de-conditioned person might develop stomach cramps, feel nauseous, or simply have to stop.  A better idea is to choose to have a special meal once a week, having amply exercised and watched your diet the rest of the week.  Choose a special appetizer and then have a salad and share an entrée with someone else.  Or have a salad and half of the calorie laden entrée, taking the rest home, and enjoy berries for dessert.  You don't have to gorge at every course.  The other option is to eat part of each course, enjoy the special event, and just leave the rest, knowing another occasion will present itself to enjoy again.  When we eat special meals with desperation, we end up eating way too much.


    Anyone who has struggled with weight knows that you can begin to try to exercise to keep pace with your over-eating and inevitably you never quite catch up.  So to try and out run your meal isn't really a healthy or smart approach to sustained weight loss or to maintaining your weight.  The calories will win most times.



Published On: August 11, 2010