Healthy young men manage occasional calorie over indulgence remarkably well

August 6, 2020
Healthy young men manage occasional calorie over indulgence remarkably well

Young, healthy men have been found to keep their metabolic control even after consuming twice as much pizza than usual. Researchers with the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism (CNEM) at the University of Bath, UK, thus believe that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally there are no immediate, negative consequences, in terms of calorie control.

The average calorie intake in the all-you-can-eat trial was over 3000 kcal, or roughly one and half large pizzas – well beyond standard adult guidelines for calorie intake in one day.

However, the results show that blood sugar (glucose) levels were no higher than after a normal meal and the amount of insulin in the blood was only 50% higher than normal. Meanwhile, the levels of blood lipids (triglycerides and non-esterified fatty acids) were only slightly higher despite having consumed over twice as much fat, and hormones released by the gut to stimulate insulin secretion and increase feelings of fullness were changed the most by overeating.

The participants also reported feeling sleepy/lethargic and had no desire to eat anything else, including sweet foods, some four hours after the pizza fest. This was surprising because reward centres in the brain are usually food specific, so eating pizza might not be expected to change the desire for sweet food (dessert).

Professor James Betts, who oversaw the CNEM study , said, “Humans are capable of eating twice as much food as is needed to make us feel ‘full’, but our bodies are also well adapted to an excessive delivery of dietary nutrients at one huge meal. Specifically, those tested in this study were able to efficiently use or store the nutrients they ingested during the pizza-eating challenge, such that the levels of sugar and fats in their blood were not much higher than when they ate half as much food.

He added, “The main problem with overeating is that it adds more stored energy to our bodies (in the form of fat), which can culminate in obesity if you overeat day after day. However, this study shows that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally, for example eating a large buffet meal or Christmas lunch, then there are no immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control.”

The researchers plan to investigate whether similar effects are apparent in women, and for overweight and older populations.

Category: Education, Features

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