Your body on a … holiday feastWho hasn't stuffed themselves silly at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? It's tradition, after all--a 3,000-plus-calorie one! Here's how your system deals with the overload.
In the first minute
Your taste buds are atwitter and send pleasure signals to the brain. The message: More, please!
As you chew, enzymes in your saliva break down the sugars and starches in the stuffing you've gobbled.
Within five minutes
Your stomach is frantically working to dissolve food and shuttle it to the small intestine, which will ferry nutrients like fat and protein into your bloodstream.
Within 15 minutes
Both your stomach and small intestine alert your brain--via hormones such as peptide YY--that they are beyond capacity. But if you hoovered your meal, your brain won't get the memo until after you've helped yourself to seconds.
Within the first hour
Post-apple pie, your insulin levels have spiked in an attempt to control the sugar that's coursing through your bloodstream.
Within 30 minutes of eating a salty meal, your blood vessels may become slightly less supple. If your diet is always packed with salty foods, you may develop stiff blood vessels, a heart-disease risk factor.
After one hour
Feeling drowsy? Don't blame the bird. Yes, turkey contains tryptophan--an amino acid the body converts into sleep-promoting serotonin--but your fatigue is really the result of your stuffed stomach. It sent a "rest and digest" signal to your brain, which, in turn, directed all available energy toward digestion.
Your stomach is stretched like a balloon and is pushing against surrounding organs, possibly leaving you achy or nauseated.
After one to two hours
Your liver has converted the food into nutrients that your organs can absorb. If you're lucky--and your carb reserves aren't already full--most of the fat and calories you ingested have been converted into short-term energy. (Had you worked out before bingeing, you'd have more room in that storehouse.)
Chances are, though, you've shoveled in twice as much as your body needs, which means the excess is converted into layaway triglycerides and may be packed into fat cells around your thighs, butt, and belly.
After two hours
Whew--your stomach has emptied and your blood vessels are back to normal.
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