Men’s Bodies Cope ‘Remarkably Well’ With Occasional Massive Cheat Meals

by : Emily Brown on : 27 Jul 2020 19:12
The Rock/Twitter

Online videos of cheesy pizzas, stacked burgers and molten cookie dough are torture for anyone looking to watch their weight, but it turns out men’s bodies can cope ‘remarkably well’ with the occasional massive cheat meal. 

Unfortunately, the study that concluded this didn’t include women, so it’s tough to say whether female bodies can cope quite as well, but that shouldn’t stop us all from indulging every now and again.


The research was conducted by the University of Bath and asked healthy men aged between 22 and 37 to partake in some tests which, to be honest, sound less like science experiments and more like a great Friday night.


Participants were asked to eat pizza until they were ‘comfortably full’ on one occasion, while on another they had to eat until they could not ‘manage another bite’, Science Focus reports.

Aaron Hengist, of the University of Bath, explained:


We all know the long-term risks of overindulgence with food when it comes to obesity, type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease but we know much less about some of the immediate effects ‘all-you-can-eat’ places on the body.

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that volunteers were able to consume almost twice as much pizza when attempting to push themselves beyond their usual limits, in turn doubling their calorie intake.

The average calorie intake exceeded 3,000, the equivalent of around one and a half large pizzas. Some individuals were able to consume up to two and a half large pizzas in one sitting, putting their calorie intake well above the standard adult guidelines for one day.


In spite of the binge, however, the amount of nutrients in their bloodstream kept within the normal range. Blood sugar levels were no higher than after a regular meal, though the amount of insulin in the blood was 50% higher than usual.

Blood lipids were only slightly higher, despite having consumed more than twice as much fat than eating until comfortably full.

The results indicate that if an otherwise healthy person occasionally overindulges, for example by enjoying a family-sized portion of mac and cheese followed by an entire chocolate cake, then they shouldn’t expect to have any immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control.

Hengist continued:


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.


The pizza binge did have some negative effects in that it left participants feeling sleepy and lethargic in the hours after eating, so perhaps save the cheat meals for the evening, or for a day when you can enjoy an afternoon nap.

Professor James Betts, who oversaw the work, said it was surprising that no previous research had measured the maximal capacity for eating at a single meal in order to understand how the human body responds to that challenge.


He commented: 

We know that people often eat beyond their needs, which is why so many of us struggle to manage our body weight.

This study reveals that humans are capable of eating twice as much food as is needed to make us feel ‘full’ but that our bodies are well adapted to an excessive delivery of dietary nutrients at one huge meal.

Man eating foodPexels

So men’s bodies are good at dealing with the occasional binge, but the keyword here is ‘occasional’. Overeating adds more stored energy to the body in the form of fat, which can result in obesity if people indulge day after day.

The researchers plan to investigate whether similar effects occur in women and for overweight and older people. Hopefully, it isn’t just young men who can enjoy a guilt-free binge!

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Food, Diet, Now


Science Focus
  1. Science Focus

    Men’s bodies cope ‘remarkably well’ with occasional huge meal