New research suggests there’s no harm in stuffing your face with high-calorie food, as long as you don’t make a habit of it. According to a study published today in British Journal of Nutrition, a one-off eating binge doesn’t affect blood glucose levels and only slightly increases the amount of fat in the bloodstream in the hours after eating.
While the harms of continual over-eating are obvious, little research has been carried out into the impact of an isolated rampage through the kitchen. A team of researchers therefore decided to investigate how the body copes with a single eating spree by recruiting a group of volunteers and plying them with as much pizza as they could handle.
A total of 14 people signed up for the experiment, all of whom were men between the ages of 22 and 37. During the first sitting, participants were instructed to stop eating when they were comfortably full. The fun then started at the next sitting, when they were told to continue eating until they literally could not swallow another bite.
On average, people consumed twice as many calories during the all-you-can-eat trial as they did during the first sitting, although the actual amount of pizza eaten varied greatly between participants.
Researchers measured participants’ blood glucose levels for four hours after they finished eating and found that they were no higher after bingeing on pizza than they were after sensible eating. Blood lipids like triglycerides, meanwhile, were slightly elevated following excessive consumption, but this increase was not proportional to the amount of extra fat that had been devoured during the meal.
The study authors also found that insulin levels in the blood were 50 percent higher after the excessive eating trial, which probably explains how the body manages to keep blood glucose levels under control when faced with such a high intake of calories. Various hormones released by the gut in order to stimulate insulin release and promote feelings of fullness were also altered following the all-you-can-eat sitting.
Professor James Betts from the University of Bath acted as the study’s supervisor and explained in a statement that “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.”