London Restaurant Lets You Exercise While You Eat

Most people dread a visit to the gym after eating a heavy meal but a pop-up restaurant in London says diners can enjoy their "calorie neutral" menu that allows them to burn off 573 calories while eating.

The restaurant called Steam is opening on Wednesday to promote German appliance manufacturer Miele's new steam-cooking line, which will be used to cook the steamed meals created by chef Frederick Forster of The Boundary.

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The 48 diners, who were chosen by random lottery, are advised to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes for the 90-minute experience. Upon entering the restaurant, they're offered metabolism-boosting green tea and cold liquids to prep them for their workout. Next, they partake in an standing-only 40-minute exercise class that promises to burn 300 calories called "Body Balance", a Pilates, yoga, Tai chi combo designed by former Olympian Les Mills. The room is also kept chilly so patrons won't sweat before dinner and to enhance calorie burn. 

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The 573-calorie menu includes Scallop and Chorizo Brouchette with Cucumber and Ginger Dressing (95 calories), Beef Fillet with Beansprout Salad (131 calories), Quail Egg Cocotte with Mushroom and Leek Fondue (75 calories), Prawn Stuffed Lemon Sole with Herb Butter Sauce (135 calories), and Banana Cake with Confit Pineapple and Crème Chantilly (137 calories). Patrons eat while sitting on chairs with seat pads that vibrate for 30 minutes (the duration of the meal) which reportedly burns 50 calories. The restaurant also accounts for laughing during dinner (40 calories) and talking while eating (57 calories).

After the meal, people can socialize while burning more calories by playing ping pong, using a boxing bag, and performing exercise band workouts.

Fun gimmick? Sure. Effective? Maybe. Although the restaurant's menu and exercise routine was designed with the help of a nutritionist and Les Mills experts, the number of calories one burns is dependent on their weight, gender, and individual biology, making the promise that every diner will leave 573 calories lighter dubious. The restaurant also doesn't account for other factors that contribute to weight loss such as fat grams, calories from fat, sodium, and sugar. There's also the fun factor, which seems to be missing from this luxury dining experience. Enjoying a good meal relies on fully luxuriating in your five senses. How much can you really enjoy that banana cake if you're focused on your meal-time workout and dreading the one right afterward?

"I wouldn't exactly call this a dining experience," says Iowa-based eating disorder specialist Michelle Roling, M.Ed., LMHC, CEDS. "We already live in a society where people are obsessed with where and what to eat; this type of establishment might tap into people's anxiety even more. Dining should be an intuitive, mindful experience where you eat what you crave and stop when you're full—not racing to finish your meal in 30 minutes while also exercising."

The restaurant is scheduled to open for one night but according to restaurant reps, the concept may expand to the rest of England, and possibly the United States.

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