We have all been in this situation. Holiday season. Social gatherings. Big meals and the day after. Few things in life can make a healthy individual feel as terrible as a really big and fatty meal and in many occasions together with fair amounts of alcohol.
We all go into this gathering with good intentions. We probably are thinking about it weeks in advance, how to deal with it, how to say no when our mother wants to serve us the third plate. How can this meal not throw me back with my fitness goals? And then the day comes and all of the good intentions are thrown overboard.
We will not dig into psychology and why it is so difficult to eat in moderation when food is around. What we want to show you in this article is, what you can do about it once you had it all, because this is the problem the vast majority of us are facing.
What does our body do with all of these excessive calories and what can be some real struggles for the body to deal with regarding heavy meals? Are there any remedies? How long does it take to get back to where we were before the big party? These and many more questions will be answered in this article. Read on.
Excessive calories and weight gain
The first problem with heavy meals is the excessive amount of calories we are eating. This issue is directly related to weight gain. Anyone who was trying to lose weight at some point in their life knows what it means to create a calorie deficit or to eat less than you burn. It’s hard. The other way around is much easier. To eat more than you burn. The typical calculations is: to lose one pound of body fat you have to burn 3.500 calories. On a weekly basis this means to eat 500 calories less than you burn on a daily basis.
A real feast is probably around 3000 calories. So does this mean you are gaining one pound of body fat with one meal? Fortunately it's not like this.
In order to gain one pound of fat, you’d have to eat 3.500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure. So let’s say you eat 2,000 calories per day on a normal day. You’d have to eat 3,500 additional calories, totaling 5,500 calories, to gain a single pound. And that's not even taking any physical activity into account.
Even though it is important not to indulge day by day. If it happens once it doesn't really matter as far as you get back on track as soon as possible. That said the important day is not really the one you have a big meal but the day after that.
High salt intake
Anyhow, if you weigh yourself the day after, the scales will probably show 1-2 pounds more than the day before, which does not mean that you actually gained this weight. It is more due to water retention because of the higher amount of salt. This will go away within the next couple of days. So if you are really concerned with weight gain, do not weigh yourself the day after but several days after getting back on track.
High amount of saturated fats
Apart from calories and high amounts of salt, big meals also contain high amounts of saturated fats. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and can be found in baked goods, fried foods, animal products such as fatty meat, cheese, full fat dairy or butter for example.
Apart from short term digestive issues like gas, bloating or diarrhea, a high intake of saturated fats can raise your “bad” cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease. Again, this doesn't mean that one big meal will put you at risk for heart disease, but if you are most of the days eating a diet high in saturated fats it can have some bad effects on your body.
That said, there are also studies which show just the contrary. People on the ketogenic diet (High fat low carb diet) could improve their blood lipid and glucose profile while eating high amounts of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. This is mainly related to the fact that this diet restricts carbohydrates which is normally not the case in a feast.
Sugar or the icing on the cake
What can't be missing in a social big meal is desert. We all love desert and once we have indulged we think.. Whatever, I’ve blown it anyway. So we have a really big piece of cake because tomorrow will be a different day. Sound familiar?
What happens is that on top of all the calories, saturated fats and salt we eat a big amount of sugar, mostly with more saturated fat. The body is already very busy trying to metabolize everything we shoved in. This “icing on the cake” causes the release of high amounts of insulin in our blood stream which furthermore lead to fat storage of excessive carbohydrates that cant be burned off as energy.
Wine, Beer and many more
Last but not least, alcohol. A social gathering without alcohol is for many people unthinkable. Actually, some people avoid social gatherings if they cant drink for whatever reason behind. We don't want to be a funkiller at this point and you know that big amounts of alcohol aren't healthy. So just a few facts.
The effects of alcohol can range from mild, such as skin flushing, to more severe symptoms such as passing out or vomiting. Other short-term effects can include lowered inhibitions, leading to poor social judgment, loss of critical judgement, reduced core body temperature, raised blood pressure, passing out or vomiting.
Alcohol is metabolized through the liver, which is already super busy with saturated fats, high amounts of sugar, perhaps some chemical ingredients like MSG (Monosodium Glutamat - a taste enhancer) or other stuff.
After mentioning all of the not so funny facts we created this 7 step plan so you can enjoy your celebrations without any bad consciousness in the future.
- Get back on track the NEXT MORNING:
- This is by far the most important point as we already mentioned. The next point will show you exactly HOW to do this.
- Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning and various more during the day:
- This will not only help your body to flush out toxins but also to get rid of water retention, even if it sounds contradictory.
- Have a breakfast rich in protein and fiber:
- Fiber will help to keep your blood glucose levels stable and protein makes you feel satiated for a longer period, which helps to eat less and make up the additional calories of the last evening.
- Eat fruit and vegetables during the day:
- The vitamins and minerals in fresh fruits and vegetables help to speed up detoxification.
- Move your body
- If you don't feel like doing HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) go out for a walk. Fresh air and some exercise will not only make you feel better mentally but also helps to boost metabolism and get back to normal.
- After getting to bed late many times we wake up just a few hours later, which happens because the spins and other effects of alcohol interfere with your REM cycle last night. The solution is simple: if you had a late night, rest up the next day.
- Help your liver to detox
- Our liver is the organ of the body with the best recovery potential. Even though we can still help to speed things up with natural antioxidants. Apart from fruit you can give it a little extra with our top health mix. A scoop full of antioxidants to bring everything back into balance.
Socialising is good for us. Researchers found out that having a healthy social network is one of nine principles that lead to longevity. The others include moving naturally by being physically active, knowing your purpose in life, taking time to relax and putting loved ones first.
It is important to participate in social gatherings. Still, this sometimes includes drinking alcohol and eating not so healthy food. Knowing what it is about, making healthy choices and getting back on a healthy track the next day while not judging yourself for bad choices is key. Life is here to enjoy it.