By Prue Salasky, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-4784
6:54 PM EST, November 22, 2011
Multiple small meals and regular exercise are prescriptions for good health. Then comes Thanksgiving — one giant late-afternoon feast that's often preceded by long hours of travel and accompanied by more hours of football watching.
What's a person to do? Well, according to multiple studies, exercising before feasting can be the most effective antidote to over-eating. (Of course, there's always the novel concept of exercising self-discipline and restraint and not over-indulging at the outset.)
And the exercise doesn't have to be strenuous. Researchers point to the ongoing benefits of even a light workout, such as 30 minutes walking, as much as 12 to16 hours in advance of a heavy meal. What this does is stimulate fat-clearing enzymes that help the body combat the spike in triglycerides caused by over-consumption. The average Thanksgiving meal contains 2,000 calories, or more than a whole day's recommended caloric intake for most. And lots of those calories come from unhealthy fats.
Triglycerides are fats in the blood that contribute to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke; they are derived from the fats that people eat. In women, elevated levels after eating have proven to be accurate predictors of future health problems.
Overeating results not only in increased triglyceride levels, but also higher LDL levels (the "bad" cholesterol) and inflammation. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also linked to depression, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which advocates regular exercise, a low-fat diet and no smoking to lower them for optimal mental and physical health.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, some research indicates that the benefits of advance exercise on fat processing can last as long as 48 hours.
In addition to taking an extended stroll the day before the annual feast, nutrition experts recommend maintaining a regular meal schedule on Thanksgiving to avoid an unhealthy fasting-gorging syndrome.
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