2 x food = 2 x calorie intake?
June 2, 2011 2:33 AM   Subscribe

fatfi: if you eat twice as much, do you take in twice the number of calories? Or does your body begin to ignore food or process it differently once you pass a certain threshold?
posted by omnigut to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone's bodies react differently; also, one has to have a look at carbs and not only at calories. So yes, some people's bodies seem to be quite good at ignoring overload and just not doing anything with it. Others: not so, or else there wouldn't be a problem with eating too much.

If you're interested in the mechanisms involved, you might have a look at insulin resistance. Interestingly, and relevant for your question, cause and effect isn't really sorted out here, see quote below; so the overall answer to your question would be: we don't know.

"It is well known that insulin resistance commonly coexists with obesity. However, causal links between insulin resistance, obesity, and dietary factors are complex and controversial. It is possible that one of them arises first, and tends to cause the other; or that insulin resistance and excess body weight might arise independently as a consequence of a third factor, but end up reinforcing each other. Some minority populations might be genetically predisposed to one or the other."
posted by Namlit at 2:50 AM on June 2, 2011

Perfect, thanks. I WAS right (if for totally different reasons than I thought)
posted by omnigut at 2:54 AM on June 2, 2011

Based on conversations I've had with a friend who does lipid metabolism research: your body can handle/metabolize pretty much any amount of fat you throw at it.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:56 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've seen something about how elite athletes, particularly cyclists, can't physically eat everything they need to to replace their energy. I think it's because their bodies can't process everything they would need to take in in a day. I seem to recall someone saying (here on metafilter) that the upper limit was around 10,000 kcal, but I'm not sure and can't find it right now.

I think the average non-elite athlete does not ever get near that amount anyway, so if you or I doubled our intake, I expect our body could process it all just fine.
posted by lollusc at 4:01 AM on June 2, 2011

posted by lollusc at 4:03 AM on June 2, 2011

I can tell you anecdotally that eventually my body will stop processing. I think fat and sugar are generally the culprits, and I guess I have a daily or weekly limit. I know this from epic holiday lunches + aperitif + dinner + dessert at my in-laws, in a country where it is very rude to not clean your plate.

I'll skip the details on what happens when it stops processing.
posted by ohio at 5:41 AM on June 2, 2011

Yes and no. (I am anthropomorphizing here slightly, but this is how it works.) Your fat cells want to be full. The emptier they are, the more of the "extra" food they will be able to take up and store.

They also can "sense" when there is extra calories available, and they multiply when they have this information. This is a slow process, however. That's why it might take a year to gain new weight- new cells are building.

OK, now you've noticed that extra weight and cut your calorie intake and you drop that extra weight. Now you are back at square one, right? No. Those extra fat cells are still there, waiting to be fed. You can re-gain that 10 pounds in a month without trying very hard.

(There is disagreement about how or wether fat cells ever go through the reverse process: eventually giving up and dying when they consistently don't get "fed". Conventional wisdom was that they are forever, but I have seen (and believe) research that says that isn't necessarily true. What is inescapable is that they do hang around for a long time.)

Anyway, if the fat cells are full and you aren't burning the calories, logic says the excess calories must remain in the gut until they are expelled.
posted by gjc at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2011

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