We’ve all been there. Perhaps you had one drink too much that caused you to indulge in a late-night pizza feast, or maybe you simply had a hankering for a sugary treat and ended up gorging on a bag of sweets big enough for a family. Perhaps you have just come out of the holiday season feeling completely overwhelmed. It happens. But how much damage have you really done? Will you be able to handle the remorse and the feeling of being overstuffed with food?
This is a comprehensive analysis of the amount of fat that might be obtained if one were to engage in a day of unhealthy eating and what should be done to combat it.
When a Cheat Meal Gets Out of Hand
The main point to take away is that having one unhealthy food item won’t undo the progress you have made with your diet and it’s not easy to reverse a month’s worth of hard work in a couple of days. If you exceed your limit, there might be some negative repercussions; however, it is unlikely to be anything major or irreparable. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a lapse in your diet every so often. Studies have suggested that it could potentially be beneficial to your progress in the long term.
They say it takes 3,500 calories in excess to add a pound of fat; however, gaining that pound won’t likely take place in one day, since the body needs a few days of eating too much to start storing fat. Even though it’s unlikely, you may notice an increase in the numbers on the weighing scale and feel fuller due to an accumulation of water weight.
Water Weight vs. Fat Weight
Gaining fat or muscle tends to be a gradual process, whereas water weight can be gained quickly and in larger amounts. When you put on fat or muscle, your body requires you to take in, keep, and use nutrients in the proper way, which is not always a straightforward task and could take days or weeks to finish. Under a variety of conditions such as inadequate sleep, an excess of sugar or salt, the influence of hormones, and weather, the body is able to take in added water in the form of water weight.
If you’ve noticed that your weight suddenly increased in a single night or span of a week, it may be due to an alteration in fluids, also known as water retention or bloating. So take a deep breath and don’t freak out. Water weight can be acquired rapidly, and it can also be lost quickly. Return to your normal routine and allow your body to process what happened; the harm may not be as extreme as you imagine.
Will One Cheat Day Ruin Your Diet?
The advantages of having a cheat day are open to much debate, though the majority of studies conducted on overfeeding involve a small group of people in a duration of one week or longer and focus on individuals who do not exercise. Presently, there is no study examining the consequences of one day of consuming too much food.
But, here is what we do know:
Excess Calories Leads to Weight Gain
However, the calorie equation is not a perfect science. The number of pounds of fat you might gain during the day depends largely on several components, such as your physical activity, metabolic rate, existing body fat quantity, stored glycogen, the kind of foodstuff you are ingesting, and even your genetic material. Research has indicated that a greater initial body weight could cause fat to add up more than lean mass without consideration of the rate of weight gain. An exploration of overconsumption in twins established that hereditary development could significantly influence the amount of body fat percentage acquired.
Eating More, Increases Your Metabolism
But only temporarily. Ever get the meat sweats? The thermal effect of food causes your body to burn calories in order to process the food you have eaten. When you consume larger portions of food, the energy used and heat generated can make you feel like you have a higher body temperature. What you choose to consume can impact how often this event happens. Protein is the most thermogenic macro, followed by carbohydrates. Fat has little to no thermic effect. Sadly, the increase in your metabolism will not be long-lasting, and you will probably go back to your regular rate the following day.
How Much Fat Can You Gain in a Day?
This is the condensed response: not a great amount as you imagined.
To investigate the more intriguing response, scientists from the University of Colorado conducted an inquiry.
The researchers conducted an experiment to replicate an instance of eating too much wherein they allotted 16 men 50% more calories than were necessary to keep their weight consistent (roughly 1,400 extra calories a day).
After two weeks of eating to excess, they put on 3 pounds of weight in the form of body fat. That adds up to one and a half pounds of fat per week, or a fifth of a pound each day.
This research didn’t give an accurate account of holiday overindulgence. A majority of us may overeat for a short period of time rather than the extended duration of this trial. However, we can apply the results to figure out an estimation of the amount of fat we would add if we indulged for a couple of days.
In this example, they experience a 0.5-pound gain in fat while keeping a caloric excess of 1,400.
The findings of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center team’s extended investigation provide additional confirmation of these outcomes.
In this trial, 29 adult males of slightly greater weight were made to ingest 1,200 – 1,500 calories in excess of their daily requirement every day for a period of 8 weeks. When their work was concluded, they had piled on 9 pounds of fat, equal to roughly 1.1 pounds per week or 0.16 pounds per day.
Even though they were consuming high-calorie food regularly, they still only put on approximately .5 pounds of fat each day.
An investigation done by researchers at Loughborough University that focused on the consequences of eating an excessive amount of high-fat foods in only one day was worth considering.
The researchers conducted an experiment with 15 men and women who were in good health, had a healthy BMI, and exercised at least 30 minutes three days per week. During the study, the participants ate 78% more calories than necessary to keep their weight at its current rate. They consumed an extra 2,650 calories on a daily basis compared to what they ate regularly.
The meal plan they were following was set up to contain a hefty amount of fat, making up 68% of their total caloric intake.
The scientists did not calculate the body fat percentage of the people involved, nevertheless, they did document their exact weight before and subsequent to their indulgence in overeating.
On average, the participants gained 1.76 pounds.
The other two studies had significantly less weight gain, but most of it was not in the form of body fat. Also, even if all the extra weight gained was fat, the two pounds gained is not especially serious, taking into account how much food was consumed.
Not All Weight Gain Is Fat Gain
You could be puzzled as to why the findings from these experiments are not consistent with what you have experienced.
“You may have noticed that after the holidays, you will have gained 5-10 pounds even though studies suggest that overeating should not allow for this much fat gain. So, why is it happening?”
Essentially, there are only four factors that affect the response in an elementary way: how much salt, carbs, and water are taken in, plus the heaviness of the excrement.
Ingesting a lot of sodium, carbohydrate, and water can result in an abnormal gain in body weight, even though it does not cause a notable rise in body fat.
When people consume large portions of food, they tend to consume more sodium and carbs than they usually would.
Sodium and carbohydrates by themselves do not lead to considerable fat gain. Rather than adding pounds to your frame, they boost your weight by expanding the amount of water in your body.
Ingesting significant amounts of sodium can raise the amount of water retained in your body because it helps the cells take in water. Many people would refer to this as “stomach swelling” or “holding of fluid,” and you have most likely noticed this after eating a lot of high-sodium snacks, such as pizza, burritos, or French fries.
One meal containing an excessive amount of sodium could cause your body to retain enough water to make your body weight increase by several pounds. This could cause your weighing scale to indicate a greater weight for a few days prior to your body getting rid of the additional sodium and retaining water.
Carbohydrate Intake and Body Weight
Carbohydrate intake can lead to the same result regarding body weight as increased sodium consumption.
Glycogen is the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the muscles and liver. For every gram of glycogen, your body also absorbs 3 to 4 grams of water. So, if you consume 400 grams of carbohydrates, that can increase your water weight by up to 3-4 pounds.
Altogether, having more sodium, carbs, and water in your system could lead to a weight gain of five to ten pounds or even more in one night. This can also make you look swollen and bloated (which will disappear eventually).
The positive side is that the majority of the excess sodium and fluid will be removed from your body, and your carbohydrate levels will eventually go back to normal. However, it is likely that you may mistakenly assume you have put on a lot of body fat depending on the weight you see on the scales before these changes take place.
After excessive consumption of food, another factor that can cause your weight to go up is the increased fecal mass.
It will take your body some time to metabolize the extra food mass from your large meal, meaning you will probably be carrying around extra weight from the leftovers in your digestive system, making your total weight higher. This usually dissipates after bringing the kids to the swimming pool a few times.
You see these effects in studies, too.
In the initial research discussed, the contributors experienced an increase of 7 pounds in their body weight after a fortnight where they ate more than required, and the second study recorded an increase of 17 pounds after a period of 8 weeks where they consumed excess food. In both scenarios, only around half of the growth in body weight was in the form of body fat, while the remaining half consisted of water, carbohydrates and faeces.
In conclusion, if you take in 1,000-1,500 excess calories in a day, you will only gain a minimal amount of fat – probably only up to ? to ¼ of a pound, although your weight on the scale might suggest otherwise.
Let’s suppose that you ignore any potential dangers and consume two to three thousand calories greater than what is necessary to keep your weight steady (which is not an uncommon event around Thanksgiving). The damage?
Maybe half a pound of fat gain.
The only condition here is that this only applies if you are consuming too much food for only a brief period of time. Ongoing excessive consumption of food is the culprit behind weight increase, obesity, diabetes, and other health issues caused by consuming too much food.
So… How Much Weight Will You Gain?
If you’re keeping track of your macros based on a mental estimate, remember that your body has a finite capacity for storing carbs; if you go beyond this, your body will start to turn those carbs into fat.
The average individual is able to hold up to 400 grams of carbohydrates in their muscles, as well as 100 grams in their liver, which amounts to a total of 2,000 calories of carbs. In contrast, the human body has an amazing ability to store large amounts of fat. Protein is processed in a distinct way when taken in; it is decomposed and made use of for bodily purposes, raising muscle size, employed for quick energy, or kept as body fat.
What to Do When You Binge or Overeat
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Although you may be retaining fluids, it can still be beneficial to keep circulating in your body. Drinking enough liquids will keep you from accumulating additional water weight and can potentially promote both your emotional well-being and how much you eat.
2. Get Some Sleep
Come to work a bit earlier each evening in order to have some extra time to sleep. Getting a proper amount of sleep is necessary for maintaining your energy, improved mood, and general well-being, but it might also influence your body’s liquid equilibrium. In certain individuals, lack of adequate sleep has been correlated with weight gain.
3. Eat Foods That Decrease Bloating
Fiber is just as useful as water to clear the body and… erm, restore functionality. It is possible to consume too much of something beneficial and in effect, make yourself more uncomfortable. If you consume an excess of insoluble fiber items, you might find yourself bloated and gassy. Choose nourishments that can aid in fighting abdominal distention, such as spinach, parsley, celery, or lemon. You could also consume fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, or take probiotic supplements.
You can avoid consuming artificial sweeteners, fizzy drinks, and gum, and make sure to eat and drink slowly to prevent unintentionally swallowing air.
There’s no more effective method to get rid of feelings of guilt and shed excess water weight than to work up a sweat. In addition, physical activity can help boost your attitude and vitality. For added benefit, take a quick trip to the sauna immediately following your exercise session.
5. Balance Your Electrolytes
Reducing the amount of salt and sugar you consume and boosting your intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Salt and sugar prompt the build-up of additional water, while other electrolytes lend a hand in maintaining equilibrium. Fruits and vegetables are a great sources for getting potassium, yogurt with low-fat is a good choice for calcium, and if you’re looking for magnesium, try adding pumpkin seeds or spinach to your diet.