Every week I get emails from people asking casual, fitness-related questions like:
Hey, Egis, do you believe in those high-speed spherical amphibians that rolled along the beaches of the moon’s enormous and abundant rivers and lakes? Just saw it on CNN.
My girlfriend just ditched me saying it’s definitely not because I’m a bit ‘cuddly.’ I still think it’s because of that. Can you help me lose weight so that I could get her back?
Among such questions, I sometimes get something that tickles my curiosity. The most recent was ‘Will a binge of 600 calories of chocolate make me gain weight?’
So it happened that Poehlman et al. investigated the effects of overeating on fat gain:
In a follow-up ‘All You Can Eat Ice Cream Thanksgiving Day’ kind of study by the same lab, they overfed subjects for 100 friggn’ days. That’s 3+ months of eating 1,000 calories over the maintenance levels.
Guess how much fat they put on? Well, body weight increased by an average of 8.1 kg (17.8 lb), of which 67% or 5.4 kg (11.9 lb) was fat mass. Only ~5 kg over three months.
Read that sentence a few times: 5 kg. Over. THREE. M-O-N-T-H-S!
So the next time you fall off track and participate in a hyper-yummy junk food eating competition for a day or just a meal, understand that it WILL NOT expand your butt cheeks to the extent that you think it will.
You see, there’s a limit to how much food your body can turn into fat in a given timeframe. Whatever the body cannot process for fat storage will be:
- Stored in muscle and liver in a form of glycogen (that’s for excess carbohydrates);
- Burned off as heat (body temperature increases after overeating);
- Burned off to digest the food itself (thermic effect of food increases along with increased food intake);
- Excreted (meaning—you will poop A LOT).
The bottom line is that eating a lot (especially high-carb & salty foods) will lead to substantial but ACUTE weight gain. Since it’s acute, most of this weight is water retention, glycogen, food volume, and a rectum full of shit (read more about weight loss plateaus & weight fluctuations here).
That said, don’t fret if you overeat. Massively even.
Sure, those 1,000 extra calories mean you won’t be in a calorie deficit by the end of the day, you will be up a little on the scale tomorrow, and you may experience some temporary bloat.
But last time I checked a week had 7 days. Unless it somehow changed and Earth became flat, you still have 6 days to make it happen.
So make sure you get right back on track with your next meal.
The worst thing you can do is to think that there’s no going back now and since you have already ruined your diet for the day, you might as well go all out and enjoy it. It’s like finding that you have a flat tire and then stabbing the other three.
Stop letting one poor meal turn into a full day or week of overeating. One poor meal doesn’t define you nor it makes you gain fuck loads of fat. The choice you make next is what matters.
You are always just one meal away from making better choices and pulling your act together. So when you overeat, forgive yourself and get back on track right away.
P.S. Don’t fast, detox, cleanse, or make extreme calorie cuts to ‘make up’ for extra calories you consumed. It creates the virtuous cycle of ‘restrict → overeat → restrict → overeat.’ The shitty cycle that you don’t wanna be in.
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