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The 'Social-Business Diet' Will Clog Your Arteries and Put the Hurt on Your Fitness

All those business meetings over steak and whiskey might seal the deal—but your heart could be paying the price, a new study says.

You’re a busy dude—traveling for business, meeting customers, shaking hands with potential new clients. Life is one big hustle. So how does an enterprising guy like you grease the skids? Simple: Take those VIPs out to a nice restaurant (or even just the popular local burger joint) and pick up the tab for all those Angus steaks and Johnnie Walkers (or quarter-pounders and Cokes). Everyone’s happy.

The only problem: Your heart may not be.

The so-called “social-business diet”—red meats, booze, pre-made snacks, and sugary drinks, often consumed at restaurant after restaurant—is associated with an increased risk of clogged-up arteries, according to a study published last week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Researchers surveyed 4,000 participants, most of whom were men averaging 46 years old. Around 81% of them followed either a Mediterranean or Western diet. But the other 19% tended to eat a lot of pre-made foods (like the kind you get at airport snack stands), consume red and processed meat, and guzzle down sugary sodas and alcohol—especially at restaurants, where opting for healthier options can often feel impossible.

Researchers found that those “social-business” dieters were more likely to develop atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease in which plaque builds up along the walls of arteries and limits blood flow.

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“This ‘business diet’ is really very bad,” lead study author Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D., told WebMD. “It hits the arteries hard, and strongly contributes to cardiovascular disease risk, the world's number one killer.”

Now, you’re a fit dude, so you know to enjoy steak, burgers, and whiskey in moderation. But when your job’s on the line, what’s a guy to do?

First, get in the habit of hitting the hotel gym. Put together your workout plan before you travel, so you know your routine before you even check in. Prioritize workouts that aren’t too equipment-intensive, so your workout isn’t thrown off if the hotel weight room doesn’t have the right set of dumbbells. Try a bodyweight workout routine like this one, or check out our full roster of bodyweight workouts for some ideas.

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And remember: No matter how hard you work out, it’s virtually impossible to out-exercise a terrible diet. All the high-intensity workouts in the world can’t atone for hilariously fattening restaurant meals from a client dinner. Take some cues from our list of what a ripped guy would eat at every fast food restaurant ever—focus on grilled chicken or fish with sides of veggies over the usual meat-and-potatoes restaurant fare. And if you feel like you’re living in an airport, you can’t go wrong with one of these twelve healthy snacks you’ll find at any newsstand.

Look, we get it: There will always be days when you don’t have a healthy option, and the hotel gym is simply impossible. But building the habit—and sticking with it for the most part—is the best way to defend against one too many business lunches with the boss who loves burgers and root beer.


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