If extra calories are rare, then the metabolism will cope with them without much difficulty.

When we eat something tasty, we often fail to stop in time – that is, we seem to be full, but we continue to eat. If you eat it all the time, you are at increased risk of being overweight and associated metabolic problems. (A certain kind of food, by the way, in a sense, even makes us eat more than we need.) If we usually do not overeat, but suddenly it happened that once we ate too much – how will this one time affect our metabolism? Will there be any serious harm here, or will the metabolism cope with the extra calories?

Researchers at the University of Bath write in British Journal of Nutritionthat a metabolism with a single multiplication of calories will cope well – at least when it comes to healthy and relatively young people. The experiment consisted in the fact that volunteers – men 22–37 years old without diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and other things – ate as much pizza as they could, absorbing over 3000 calories at a time. This was double what they allowed themselves to eat in one meal, and overall, the calories were well above the daily allowance usually found in health guidelines.

If such a high-calorie hit were harmful to metabolism, it would be seen in the level of glucose and fat in the blood, in the level of insulin and other indicators. But the participants’ blood glucose levels after such an excess meal turned out to be the same as after a regular, no-frills lunch – apparently because the insulin level was 50% above normal, so that the tissues absorbed all the excess glucose through the insulin signal.

There was more fat in the blood, but only slightly more (although they ate twice as much as usual), which somewhat contradicted earlier studies, according to which the level of lipids in the blood rises in proportion to the lipids eaten. At the same time, excess food greatly increased the concentration of hormones that are synthesized in the intestines and which stimulate the feeling of fullness and the release of insulin. After a few hours, the participants in the experiment felt drowsy and did not want to eat anything else, not even sweets.

From which the authors of the work conclude that a healthy person can afford to overeat from time to time without harm to himself. But here it is necessary to emphasize two points – firstly, we are talking specifically about a healthy person, that is, about someone who does not have diabetes, excess weight, etc., and secondly, from time to time is not every day, and not every other day, and, I suppose, not even every week. Festive overeating is unlikely to ruin your metabolism unless you celebrate too often.

However, it should be emphasized that the study was conducted with men of a certain age. It is possible that women, as well as men under 22 and after 37 years old, react to “extra pizza” differently. Finally, other factors also affect metabolism, from what we eat to our psychological state. For example, will metabolism be able to cope with doubling calories (albeit once) if they come in the form of fries or sweet donuts?

As for the psychological state, several years ago we wrote about how stress increases the likelihood of obesity, and since there is a lot of stress in our everyday life, the question arises whether it is necessary to experiment with overeating at all, even if only on holidays.