August 30, 2010
4 Week Overeating Period Changes Metabolism

Just 4 weeks of pigging out runs the risk of shifting your physiology toward a long term greater propensity to gain weight.

A short period of excess food consumption can have long term effects on your body weight and fat storage even after the initial weight is lost. A study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Nutrition & Metabolism has found that a four-week episode of increased energy intake and decreased exercise can cause increased weight and fat mass more than two years later when compared to control individuals.

Åsa Ernersson worked with a team of researchers from Linköping University Sweden to investigate the long term effects of a sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle. They capped the physical activity of 18 individuals and used excessive food consumption to increase their energy intake by an average of 70% for four weeks. A separate control group ate and exercised as normal.

A long vacation pig-out could have long term consequences.

A very interesting result: The overeating group experienced a long term shift to higher weight.

The intervention group gained an average of 6.4 kg in body weight, which was mostly lost 6 months later. However, one year later the intervention group showed an increased fat mass compared to baseline; the differences were even greater after two and a half years. Ernersson said "The long term difference in body weight in the intervention and control groups suggests that there is an extended effect on fat mass after a short period of large food consumption and minimal exercise."

What I want to know: is there some way to recalibrate one's metabolism permanently toward a lower weight? Or is human metabolism ratchetable only in one direction?

I also wonder about actors who gain weight for a part. Did Renee Zellweger have a tougher time staying emaciated after she played Bridget Jones?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 August 30 09:20 PM  Aging Diet Weight Studies

ohidunno said at August 31, 2010 5:04 AM:


But doesn't one gain fat cells when one gets fat and since one does not lose fat cells with weight loss then that suggusts a mechanism for the long-term ability to gain more weight. One simply have more fat cells to store excess energy when it is around.

This has an obvious survival advantage of rapidly gaining the ability to store excess food in your newly generated fat cells but I don't see a reason to get rid of that ability from an evolutionary viewpoint.

Dog of Justice said at September 1, 2010 4:57 AM:

This is a very annoying finding for pregnant women. "Must gain enough weight to have a healthy baby, and not one pound more."

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