We all want to know exactly what goes into our food nowadays but more importantly, shouldn’t we know what it does to our body after we eat it? Now it’s pizza’s turn to be under the body chemistry microscope, pepperoni pizza to be exact. But don’t be scared off just yet, we’re not here to tell you to banish it from your diet. But seriously, what what happens to your body after eating pizza?
You can thank the people at Cosmopolitan for this insight into what happens to your body after you eat pizza, as they asked a registered dietitian to create a timeline of effects that eating an average cheese and pepperoni pizza slice causes. FYI this average slice would contain 311 calories, 13.5 grams of fat, 14 milligrams of cholesterol, 701 milligrams of sodium, 1.75 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of protein. I’m certainly not going to stop eating pizza, that would be crazy, but knowing how our body deals with it might help us all to enjoy it the right way. Here’s what goes down.
The carb effects
Well let’s start with the fact that you if you are looking forward to a warm doughy slice of heaven topped with stringy cheese and meaty pepperoni (of course you are) then the body starts working before you’ve taken a bite. You’ll start to salivate (and drool, if you’re anything like me). This begins the digestive process. Pizza is made of simple carbohydrates and similar to other food that is high in both sugar and fat, the pleasure center in our brain is activated once you begin to eat it. This can even be addictive, which you can read more about in my article asking if we eat too much sugar. With every bite that you take of the pizza, as with any food, you begin to enjoy it less and less. The simple carbohydrates are rapidly turned to glucose (sugar) and used to refuel and serve your bodily processes. If you ate more than one slice in this time, pretty likely unless you are truly super human, there will be excess energy which keeps your blood sugar levels higher for longer. Too much of this too often can result in inflammation and cardiovascular problems, poor circulation and nerve damage. Anything left over goes to the liver to be stored and turned to fat to be used at a later time.
The fat effects
Feast on the cheese and pepperoni and don’t be tempted to think of the calories and think you are being healthier by picking it off. When you eat a meal of only carbohydrates you the hormone serotonine is released and leads to sleepyness and feeling sluggish. The protein and fat from the cheese and pepperoni slows this down and the acid in your stomach continues to work hard to digest everything . Leptin, the hormone secreted by your fat cells rises, will also make sure feel full and triggers your brain to stop eating. The ‘hungry hormone’ ghrelin then stops and unless you ate far too much, you’ll feel satisfied. This is most definitely the point at which you should stop eating, even if you still want another slice! What isn’t used as energy for your muscles, will be sent to your liver for later.
This whole process raises your levels of triglycerides (i.e., fat in your blood) temporarily. Short term it’s OK, but prolonged elevation can clog arteries and increase bad cholesterol. If you’re healthy already then this will naturally decline within six hours, as long as you didn’t keep on going and reach for ice cream afterwards (the more fat you eat , the longer the levels stays high). However if you have a family history of circulatory disease you should be aware that just one slice increases your risk of these conditions too. The dietitian stresses that eating pizza will not make you gain weight, other than the actual weight of the pizza, and only over eating calories over time contributes to fat gain. Can you sense the phrase, “pizza is fine in moderation” is coming? That’s because it is. But depending on your personal goals, you might want moderate it a little more. If you do choose to eat a store bought or takeaway pizza consider one with chicken and choose the medium or small, even if the bigger one is better value for money. Yes you can eat the leftovers the next day but you don’t need to.
If you feel like taking matters into your own hands, of course you can make a healthier pizza at home and have the same comfort food feeling. Try making a base from cauliflower, wholemeal or spelt flour and for the topping, load up on veggies and flavour with walnuts and feta cheese or smoked salmon and avocado!