Why is junk food causing me aches and pains?
August 4, 2009 3:31 AM   Subscribe

Can eating too much fat and sugar cause body aches?

I have recently lost about 45 pounds through eating right and exercising. I still eat a small amount of junk food once or twice a week. No problems there. But once every month or so I overindulge. McDonald's, ice cream, cookies, you name it. Later that day, the pains start. My wrists, knees, thighs, ankles, upper arms, forearms, neck, shoulders all start to ache pretty badly, and these pains last for the next day or so- until the junk is out of my system, I guess. I compare it to the feeling I get when I have the flu and my whole body aches.

This never happened to me in my fat old days, when I binged on an almost daily basis. Can eating crap really cause this reaction? I've searched on Google and have found some stories of people who suffer the same thing, as well as reports that too much junk food can cause arthritis down the road. I know I don't have arthritis, but I wonder if there's some connection. Can anyone explain why my body reacts this way?
posted by shelayna to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Restrticting your calorie intake can cause increased insulin sensitivity, and reduce background inflammation. My guess is your body built up a tolerance to pain from these things that is now gone (and well done) thanks to your new diet. By losing weight and changing how much and what you eat, you've basically done a modified version of what people are doing in this article, which explains in a simple way a lot of the science at work.
posted by Cuppatea at 4:03 AM on August 4, 2009

Certain kinds of gluten sensitivity can cause joint pain.
posted by zadcat at 5:06 AM on August 4, 2009

There are all sorts of food sensitivities that have a wide range of symptoms. Sugar in particular can hit you hard if you've been off it for a while.
posted by smartypantz at 7:03 AM on August 4, 2009

I don't eat much sugar, but I find that if I overindulge in something like bottled lemonade (which is mostly high-fructose corn syrup) or cake, frosted or chocolatey cookies, etc., I tend to get an upset stomach. Not pain exactly, more a rush to the bathroom type thing, but it suggests (at least to me) some support for Cuppatea's theory.
posted by scratch at 7:46 AM on August 4, 2009

There really isnt that much difference between junk food and regular food. Sure, more fat and salt, but nothing that should suddenly cause you pain. Sounds like an inflammation or allergy response. You might want to mention this to your doctor.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:08 AM on August 4, 2009

I asked my brother, the foodie and workout guru (he does cross-fit and studies nutrition and trains people). He said (apologies for language):

1. Her body is rejecting shit presented as food in massive quantities. Basically it gets used to premium fuel and suddenly is given regular - expect backfires.

2. You typically have a massive insulin release following one of those meals - insulin by its nature is an anti-immune enzyme (why obese people are sick more often) and resists the buildup of broken-down muscle, perhaps even slightly reversing it. If you're diet is really "good", then your insulin level and glucose levels should be plateau'd throughout the day. With a sudden spike, like anything, you're bound to cause more damage than if your body was insulin resistant (which most people's are considering what they eat, and hers definitely was before she lost that weight). You don't want to be insulin resistant, an extreme enough case of it leads to pancreatic failure and type II diabetes...she no longer is...and now she's feeling what those meals were really doing to her body in the first place.
posted by questionsandanchors at 8:12 AM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Gluten sensitivity does that to me, and you'd be amazed at the percentage of processed food that has gluten in it.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:28 AM on August 4, 2009

In this case, I doubt it's the gluten as the OP, when eating well, probably still eats gluten. I agree with questionsandanswers.
posted by DeltaForce at 5:58 AM on August 5, 2009

Also, it's not the fat or sugar, but the _type_ of fat and sugar. Fake fats and fake sugar is not the same to our bodies as natural fat present in healthy nuts and meats, and natural sugar in fruit.
posted by DeltaForce at 6:00 AM on August 5, 2009

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