The last thing you should do after you overeat
Most think that, after stuffing our faces with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, the best thing to do is cardio. I get that request more than anything after big overeating holidays. “Can we do a cardio workout after Thanksgiving? I need to sweat and work off all this fat!” Well… for those of you who plan on doing your long run or spin class the day after Thanksgiving in hopes that you’ll burn more calories, you’ll only end up adding more calories as a result of your long, moderate cardio workout.
Here is what happens: When you train for long periods of time at a moderate level of intensity, you use the energy stores that are most available. In most of us, you burn carbohydrates that are stored in the blood in the form of glucose or carbohydrates that are stored in the muscle in the form of glycogen. The one exception to this is for those in a longer-term state of ketosis, in which you are adapted to burning fat, either through fasting or a low-carb diet. Once those carbohydrates are used, and most of us have enough to last for at least 90 minutes or more of moderate training, then we use other sources of energy, some of which can be muscle and some fat. In addition, once we have depleted or come close to depleting the glucose and glycogen storage we have, then we have a natural tendency to want to replace those sources with sugar carbohydrates. This looks like you reaching for the pumpkin pie leftovers the next day!
The best way to deal with the post Thanksgiving workout is to do one that is based on using heavy loads and/or high levels of intensity that are not sustainable for anything more than 2 minutes at a time. This means doing things like sprints, loaded squats, kettlebell swings, and dynamic med ball activities, like wall ball, all loaded in such a way that would not allow you to perform them for more than 2 minutes at a time with at least 2 minutes of rest between each effort.
It’s not only the calorie burning effect but, specifically, the fat burning effect that we get from these heavy and high intensity training intervals. It’s actually a hormonal response that we get from training in this way that allows us to put a much more profound dent into the overeating you just did the day before. A great study done by the Department of Health at the University of Bath found that when people were given 50% more calories and then asked to do high intensity training they not only didn’t gain weight but the hormonal effect of the high intensity training had long-lasting effects on overall health markers like blood pressure, insulin control, blood sugar levels. And, for those of you concerned about your thighs, it showed an effect on adipose tissue or fat! Those who did no activity gained weight in this study. If you look at the Marathon study I referenced in my previous blog, you will see that the tendency to gain weight while doing moderate to low level cardio training will not only cause a host of overuse injuries, but the likelihood of weight gain is much greater do to the fact that you utilize carbohydrates and then you crave the replacement of those carbohydrates.