This Is What Happens to Your Body If You Keep Eating After You're Full

Turns out your body is up to the challenge of cheat meals.

If you've ever wondered what happens to your body on a diet "cheat day," you're not alone: fitness buffs have long debated whether sudden bursts of calories can help or hinder one's health. Thankfully, researchers from The University of Bath's Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism have an answer to this dietary dilemma—and they come bearing good news. They found that our bodies are "surprisingly good" at metabolizing sudden bouts of overindulgence, even when we eat to a point of discomfort.

The researchers gathered a group of healthy, male test subjects between the ages of 22 and 37, and asked them to eat twice as much pizza as they normally would in one sitting. They then compared the effects of "normal eating" (defined in the study as eating until full) with "maximal eating" (defined as eating until "you cannot manage another bite"). The researchers found that our digestive systems are highly adaptable, and able to process a high concentration of dietary nutrients in response to the occasional high-calorie binge.

The men had their blood drawn and analyzed twice during the study: once after eating until full, and again after doubling their intake (remarkably, this averaged one and a half large pizzas each). The researchers determined that the participants' insulin levels increased by an average of 50 percent in response to the hulking meals, which allowed their blood sugar levels to remain unchanged. Blood lipids were only slightly higher after doubling their portions, despite the participants having eaten twice the normal amount of fat in one sitting.

Aaron Hengist, the study's lead researcher, explained: "We all know the long-term risks of over-indulgence with food when it comes to obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but we know much less about some of the immediate effects 'all you can eat' places on the body. Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as 'full' and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus."

So, if you occasionally go a little overboard with satisfying your sweet tooth, or put away an extra slice of pizza or two, it seems there are no long-term consequences. What matter most are your everyday dietary habits, which will ultimately shape your health. And for a comprehensive list of tips for getting in shape this summer, check out 101 Ultimate Weight Loss Tips for Summer 2020.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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