Will you burn calories preparing and attempting CLAT?

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Have you been reading books as big as your pillow and crunching numbers and facts like a machine and doing mock test after mock test. Well it isn’t enough! CLAT in going online this year, so get ready to slog doing online tests as well! Phew! What a life! April and May are normally months filled with nightmares and a zombie like experience for those appearing for CLAT. We have heard from many CLAT aspirants about how they passed out the moment they hit the bed after CLAT, and the mental exhaustion they felt for many days later. Did you know that humans are the animal equivalent of gas-guzzling SUVs. Yes its true, and its because of our giant freak brains. Our grey matter burns a lot of energy, and that means we need a lot of food to fuel it. Just as vigorous exercise tires our bodies, intellectual exertion should drain the brain. After finishing a mentally draining task such as taking a test or finishing a big project, you might feel as though you’ve run a marathon. Your brain is tired, which often makes your body feel tired. This type of activity contributes to a small calorie burn, but not enough to aid in weight loss.

Mental activity boosts your metabolic rate, which is necessary for extra calorie burn. However, thinking only uses up about 20 percent of your resting metabolic rate, according to David A. Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. This equates to about a 300 calorie use by your brain per day for all mental activity, taxing or not. Thinking extra hard during the day burns little additional calories, Levitsky reports. You might notice food cravings while you’re preparing for a particularly hard mental task. For example, you might want candy or soda when you’re working hard on a big project at school. These cravings aren’t a result of burning additional calories, but more likely stem from stress, which taxes your brain’s reserves of natural sedatives, according to the International Guide to the World of Alternative Mental Health. As a result, you experience the need for emotional eating. Most people turn to junk food on these occasions. Additionally, if you forget to eat or are tired during an activity, you might crave sugary foods for an energy boost. If this is the case, you might experience weight gain because junk food has more calories than thinking burns.

But, if this type of mental exertion only contributed to a small calorie burn and if all mental activities taxing, or not, cause the calorie, why is it that you feel extra tired after putting in hard work for a competitive exam like CLAT? Besides the exhaustion your brain faces after putting in focused hard work, your attitude is another important player. Take these simple examples, that quite surely you as teenagers would have experienced. Have you not seen thrilling, interesting, funny or intriguing T.V. shows back to back? Or sat through an exciting movie without your attention wavering for 3 hours? Haven’t you curled up on your favourite couch reading your favourite novel or spent hours trying to solve a riddle or a puzzle? Then, how come, you enjoyed these as opposed to getting exhausted? Such fatigue seems much more likely to follow sustained mental effort that we do not seek for pleasure—such as the obligatory CLAT—especially when we expect that the ordeal will drain our brains. If we think an exam or puzzle will be difficult, it often will be.

Then of course, there is the big ‘S’ word – STRESS! We all know that it is not only your brain that participates in preparing for CLAT. Stress both physical and mental can cause fatigue. When you sit for long hours in front of the computer doing online mock tests, your back could get stiff, neck might pain and your eyes will get stressed out from focusing on the monitor too, which leads to the secretion of stress hormones that elevates your heart rate, blood pressure etc. So if night after night you’ve been up until the sun rises studying for CLAT and your pants seem tighter/ looser, you may have your brain to blame!

Credit: This article was inspired by an article we came across in the Scientific American, modified to appeal to our reader!

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