Burning off your favourite treat

Have you ever wondered how much exercise it would take to burn off your treat? Here are some figures to make you think twice before reaching for your favorite treats.

Food item

Kilojoules

Exercise

1 chocolate muffin 60g

169

25minutes brisk walking

1 bucket of hot chips 150g

298

1 hr of vacuuming

Meat lovers pizza

533

2 hr bike ride

Roast chicken with skin 100g roast potatoes and gravy

376

30min gardening and 30min mowing

Lasagne 400g

547

70min of swimming

Mars bar 60g

272

Walking up 53 flights of stair

Packet of chips

497

45min run

It's not all doom and gloom though. You will be glad to know, that having the occasional high fat treat will not do as much damage as you may think. Having a high energy snack 1-2 wk is all part of normal eating and your body is able to compensate for this.

Let's look into the science behind this train of thought. On our body we have both white and brown adipose tissue (fat tissue). As babies we are born with a larger percentage of brown fat tissue. Brown fat is metabolically active. This means it burns a lot of energy. White fat does not.That is why babies are always warm and can eat a lot of food, even though there so tiny.

As we grow into adults our brown fat stores disappear. We tend to have more white tissue. White fat tissue is actually a hormone producing organ. It causes inflammation and promotes more storage of fat. When we overeat the little amounts of brown fat that we have as adults becomes more active when we over eat. The body begins to burn off energy by producing heat to use up the extra energy we ate. That explains why after eating a large meal we tend to feel hot or at least warm. So you can be assured that a one off high energy meal or snack will be burnt off and your weight will remain the same.

Our body likes our weight to be stable. It also likes being a certain body weight.This is called our set point range. Our set point range is the weight that your body naturally likes to sit at and it will always return back to, even after dieting.

Keep in mind though that overeating over a long period of time will turn off this process and you will gain weight. It will also destroy your natural set point range. You may even push your set point range to a higher weight. This may explain why larger people stabilize at a higher weight and find it difficult to lose weight. There body is fighting their new set point.

Your now probably asking to yourself, how can I get more brown fat and how can I decrease my weight set point?

The truth is that levels of brown fat are genetically determined; you cannot influence that at all, unless you're born to different parents. However it is possible to cause a reduction in your set point weight range to a lower setting through exercise and the amount of muscle you have. Start an exercise program with strength training.

Healthy eating is all about enjoying food and that means the occasional over indulgence. So enjoy your muffin once a week with pleasure.

Gabrielle Maston is a qualified dietician and her blog is full of interesting advice and helpful tips

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