The Holidays are upon us and most of us will indulge in a veritable banquet – and not just once. In fact, just at Thanksgiving, many Americans will indulge in at least two big, celebratory meals. That can’t be healthy, surely? Especially with over a third of Americans officially obese?
Surprisingly, occasionally eating much more than you normally should may not actually be too damaging providing people maintain a healthy exercise regime, per a study recently completed for the (APS) American Physiological Society meeting in Phoenix, AZ.
Obesity is a major contributory factor in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, even some cancers and many other ailments and complaints known as ‘metabolic syndrome’. Metabolic syndrome covers a range of cardiological and metabolic warning signs including a large waist measurement; high blood pressure; high cholesterol (and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, known as HDL); insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Both obesity and metabolic syndrome are known to be caused or exacerbated by poor diet and not enough exercise.
Turning back the tide
Earlier research already discovered that higher levels of aerobic exercise could prevent – or even turn back – the first indicators of metabolic syndrome. So, although binge eating, even occasionally, could potentially cause problems including insulin resistance, and just seven days’ worth of over-eating could have an adverse effect on the body’s ability to control blood sugar and insulin, exercise could protect against this damage.
An overview of the study
It’s still not entirely clear precisely what effect exercise has on the makeup and behaviour of fat tissue. A study carried out by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, aimed to discover what would happen to that fatty tissue, if people exercised while over-eating for a week. An initial study took four slim, fit young adults, and theorized that exercising properly, even during a period of bingeing, could prevent some of the damage ordinarily caused by overeating.
Those taking part ate around 30% more than usual within the week of the study, but carried on aerobically exercising, for at least two-and-a-half hours throughout the week. Glucose tolerance levels were monitored at the beginning and end of the week, and stomach fat samples were taken. Certain indicators were observed, and inflammation measured.
In those who don’t follow an exercise regime, inflammation markers in fat tissue tend to rise following a weeks’ bingeing, but this was not the case and there were no signs of fatty tissue inflammation, and no effect on glucose tolerance, or indeed the chemical breakdown of fat.
So, with all things considered, in healthy individuals, exercise may help to reduce the damage done by holiday overindulgence – so maybe reaching for that piece of pie isn’t so bad – as long as you work it off afterwards!