This question has been bothering me for ages, especially after I ate a bag of chips or returned after one of my family’s gatherings. I have been through these painful feelings of guilt and dissapointment because of overeating, and I wanted to figure out how bad does it affect my diet in the short term. I am sure I am not alone wondering about it, so I decided to make an investigation on this topic and share my knowledge with you. I will also speak from my own experience since after 1.5 year of dieting, eating healthy and exercising, I’ve observed some patterns of weight gain and loss in my body and how my weight is affected by ocasional overeating.
Let’s start with the basics: 1 Ib (approx 0.5 kg) of fat has about 3500 calories. So in theory, if you eat 3500 calories MORE than your daily norm, you will gain 1 Ib (aprox 0.5 kg) of fat. This is not exactly true due to a few reasons:
1. Your fat gain depends on the speed of your metabolism (which is something dictated by your genes)
2. Some of this weight will be “water weight” since all the food contains liquids in it
3. The amount of fat gain will very likely depend on the type of food you ate
4. The amount of fat gain depends on the activities you performed after you ate
Now let’s dive into more detail about this. The first 2 factors that I’ve mentioned are significantly influencing the speed and amount of your weight gain, however, I would say that the most important factor is the 3rd one, namely: the type of food you’ve consumed.
For instance if you overate 3500 calories of fruit salad, it is less likely to store as 1 extra Ib (0.5 kg) of fat tissue in your body simply because fruits have a lower sugar content and are fat-free. Therefore, your body is less likely to react vigorously to this calorie excess which, in the end results in less FAT gain. Fruits have a considerable amount of fluids which means that your weight gain will mostly consist of WATER rather than FAT tissue. This principle generally applies to overeating healthy foods that are high in fluid content and low in fat and sugar content. Your body will most likely deposit some fat tissue, purely as a result of overeating; however the visible weight gain will become observable much later. Another positive aspect behind overeating healthy foods is that you are able to get rid of the gained weight right on the next day. If you are very concerned about your weight gain, an intensive workout and a stricter diet during the next day is going to rescue you from fat gain.
Things are slightly different when it comes to junk food or fast food. If you ate a 3500 calorie excess of greasy and fatty food products that are rich in added sugar content, you are more likely to deposit pure fat on your body as a result. This kind of food will boost the sugar content in your blood to a much higher level than after fruits, which creates a considerable energy excess in your body. Since you are not able to spend this amount of excess energy in a short period of time it will result in fat gain within just a few minutes after you ate your meal. Obviously, it is way more difficult to get rid of this pure fat gain especially if your overeating stretches over a longer period of time. It will require regular exercising and strict dieting in order to bring your weight down again. On the other hand if this savage junk food overeating happens very seldom to you, your weight is likely to recover within the next few days.
My own experience
Speaking from my own experience, I concluded for myself a long time ago that if I am madly craving for food, I rather overeat with healthy products. It does happen sometimes that I can overeat 1000-1500 calories during a certain event, and if it is mostly healthy food that I ate – my weight is hardly affected by it. If it does happen that I lose control and stuff myself with a 1500 – 2000 junk food calorie excess (and that my friends, happens too), I will require 4 to 5 days of strict dieting and exercise in order to get back to my comfortable weight. Yes, that’s what giving in to my temptations normally costs me – I always keep that in mind before making my food choice.
The 4th factor that I’ve mentioned is just as important as the 3rd one. If you overate a considerable amount of calories, I strongly suggest at least going for a walk. It will improve your digestion and it will diminish the amount of fat that you will pile up. Laying on the couch with a full stomach or, even worse, going to bed is only going to aggravate things.
Going to bed right after your meal is generally not very beneficial for your diet. If you’re feeling hungry and tired – make a choice. Go to sleep without eating, or eat without going to sleep – simple. Even if you’ve consumed a regular amount of calories, going to sleep right after eating is more likely to facilitate your weight gain.
I hope this has been helpful! My advice: think, think and think again before you eat!