As an adolescent, I was a victim of this common misconception that brisk walking immediately post meal helps burn calories. It’s quite natural to think that once we eat a meal and walk it out quickly, it will burn the calories that we just consumed. But hey! For that food to get converted into calories it requires a long process, which is called nothing but digestion. Unless and until we don’t let the food to get digested thoroughly, are we going to burn the calories? Obviously not!
Brisk walking post meal is a not a very good idea. It may cause acid reflux, ingestion or stomach upset. The reason is very simple- after the meal, our digestion process is all ready to go. Digestive juices are released in the stomach and intestine. This is the time when the stomach and intestine need most blood supply to carry on this process smoothly. Hence, the blood flow needs to be directed to this area for better digestion. If we perform any vigorous activity as simple as brisk walking after the meal, the blood circulation gets directed to our extremities which compromises the blood flow to the core region of the body, thus hampering the digestive processes.
Working out especially post dinner not only affects our digestion but may also postpone our sleep time. Workouts are a stress buster. Our body experiences an endorphin rush (feel good factor) after a nice cardio/strengthening session. Once we are on an endorphin high, we feel extremely elated and energized which tends to delay our sleep.
So what’s best for us? It’s always best to go for a brisk walk or any other workout before the meal (30 minutes prior or so). It exhausts our body’s energy stores which is then all set to fill up the stores again with a good meal. This reduces the chances of fat conversion during the meal as whatever we consume is utilized by the body cells for energy which leaves least for fat storage. In short, a pre meal workout fires up our body’s metabolism which therefore ensures better burn up of calories after we consume and digest the meal.
A similar point was proven by a 2006 study published in “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism,” which says that people who walked prior to putting any food in their stomach and who walked hard enough to perspire burnt more fat than those who walked after eating.
Thus, it’s quite clear that in order to reap most benefits of brisk walking or other workouts, we need to schedule it prior to our meal. However, we can certainly go for a leisurely walk post meal, but again, not immediately. We can go after a 45 minutes gap. That is just to get over the bloat of eating way too much or to give your muscles a good stretch and it’s anytime a better option than promoting fat deposition by lying on the sofa watching TV. But remember, this should be a short 10-15 minute walk and not a long one.
Now that we have blown away the misconceptions, let’s implement the right thing and experience the change! Let’s Rock the pre-meal walk!