This is Your Belly on Cocktails, Cookies, and More
Find out what really happens after you've indulged in a "cheat" food or drink.
Cocktails, cupcakes, salty potato chips, a big juicy cheeseburger. These things all taste pretty darn good as they pass through your lips, but what happens after they move on down the road? “No matter what you swallow, the mechanisms are the same: past the food pipe, through the esophagus, and into your stomach,” says Ira Breite, M.D., a clinical assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But there are differences in how specific nutrients like proteins, carbs, and fats are absorbed,” he says.
Here’s what happens when some of your favorite guilty pleasures hit your belly, and how to take a healthier approach:
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Refined carbs like white rice, pasta, and flour have basically had their healthy bits removed; for example, white rice was once brown rice before it got its fiber-rich exterior stripped away. So not only are refined carbs low in nutrients, they are converted quickly by the body into sugars and can boost blood sugar levels. When these levels are high, your body uses sugar instead of fat stores for an instant energy boost. You get hungry again faster after a refined-carb heavy meal (the reason you’re ready to eat again an hour after a huge plate of pancakes), plus your body isn’t using fat stores for energy, which is what you want.
The Healthier Approach: Yes, a crusty baguette is a wonderful thing, as are pancakes, and sometimes only white rice with beef and broccoli will do. Still, try to get as many of your everyday carbs from slow burning, complex sources like beans, whole fruits and veggies, and whole grains. That way you have room for the occasional splurge.