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“Oops, I cheated on my diet again!” If this sounds familiar, then you are probably part of the gang of us who, ‘on occasion’, choose to indulge in a sinful meal and then look for a way to redeem ourselves. Fret not! In this article, we examine why running is an effective way to burn off those excess calories you have ‘accidentally’ gained. What’s more, we will also look at whether you should run before or after a meal, so that you can use the most effective way to offset your cheat meal too!
Is Running Effective as a Means of Damage Control?
Here’s the good news: running is effective as a means of damage control to offset your cheat meal! According to this article from BBC Future, “Experienced runners can burn more than 1000 calories an hour as they work up a speed of 10mph” (Credit: Olivia Howitt). What this means is that 1000 calories, or the equivalent of consuming a Big Mac with fries, can be burned off within 1 hour of running!
Running is measured to be more effective than exercises such as walking, swimming and kayaking while being equally effective as cycling, soccer and basketball.
How do we apply this in practice? Simply do the math on your cheat meal and figure out how many hours you need to run to burn it off! For reference, use this Calorie Calculator for an estimate of how much you have consumed.
Should You Run Before or After a Cheat Meal?
Is it more beneficial to run before or after a (cheat) meal? If you are reading this after consuming a cheat meal, you might not have a choice but to run post-meal. The debate still rages on, and the final answer to this will vary depending on the sources you read from, as there are different benefits associated with each choice.
Running before a meal or on an empty stomach is associated with benefits such as higher fat burn and promotion of muscle gaining This is due to increased insulin sensitivity and increased testosterone levels compared to running after a meal.
On the other hand, running after a meal is associated with benefits such as higher total calories burn, as a result of a greater 3-hour thermic effect of food. Reduced triglycerides concentration is also noted, which reduces the risk factor for cardiovascular disease compared to running before a meal.
What this means is that 1000 calories, or the equivalent of consuming a Big Mac and Fries, can be burned off with 1 hour of running!
What does this all mean? Summing up the above, running is highly effective as damage control for your cheat meal, assuming you run for the appropriate amount of time to burn off at least the same amount of calories consumed.
If your chief concern is for fat burn and muscle gain, run before a meal. However, if you are more concerned with total calories burnt, go ahead and run after a meal. In the case of the latter scenario, do make sure to rest for an hour or two before running to allow for full digestion.
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