Huge Meals Won’t Make you Fat

Huge Meals Won't Make You FatThe purpose of this article is to assure you that eating one huge meal will not do anything to your body fat percentage.  Pigging out for one meal is not harmful at all, and there is science to back it up.  

Effects of One Giant Meal

In a study where researchers fed a group of men a single meal of bread, jam, and fruit juice that totaled 1,900 calories, with 480 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fat, and a little protein, they participants gained 0 fat!  

The scientists tracked metabolic responses for 10 hours and found the following:

  • The majority of the carbs (72%) was converted into glycogen with the rest of it (28%) burned as fuel. 2 grams of the 480 grams of carbs were converted to fat, through a metabolic process called “de novo lipogenesis,” which I have written about in another article here Effects of Over-Eating In a Single Meal.
  • Summary point, 2 grams out of 480 grams going to fat….that’s nothing!
  • During the 10-hour evaluation period, the subjects also burned 17 grams of fat. Remember, that they only ate 8 grams of fat.  That’s 7 grams MORE fat than what they ate (8 grams) and what they got from the “de novo lipogenesis” (2 grams).   
  • Conclusion:  eating 1 overly large meal will not affect your body composition.

Effects of Several Days of Over Eating

So what happens when you eat large meals for several days in a row, such as during the holiday season?

Interestingly, there are a couple of studies that address this issue.  Researchers appear to have found a “fat gain ceiling.” Regardless of the total amount of calories subjects over-ate in a single day, it only resulted in a fat gain of about 0.2 pounds. 

Here are several study results.

  • University of Colorado:   over-feeding by 50% more calories than maintenance for two weeks;  average fat gain 0.2 pounds of fat per day
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center:  over-feeding by 40% more calories than maintenance for eight weeks; average fat gain 0.2 pounds of fat a day.

Bottom Line

Fat gain and weight gain are two very different things.  Make no mistake, you wil gain weight after a massive meal, but the added weight is not likely to be fat, especially if the meal is a rare occurrence.  Fat gain and weight gain are transient.  It’s just a matter of patience.

Science shows that there is a limit to how much food your body can turn into fat via “de novo lipogenesis” from one meal. And there is this fat storage ceiling of 0.2 pounds that is evolving in the scientific literature.

So, during the holiday season, the good news is that the majority of extra weight gained is temporary. It will mostly disappear in a few days, if you do pretty much nothing.  If you get in a little extra movement, just from walking for instance, it will entirely disappear.  

Enjoy the holidays!



Glycogen synthesis versus lipogenesis after a 500 gram carbohydrate meal in man

Fat and carbohydrate overfeeding in humans: different effects on energy storage

Effect of 8 Weeks of Overfeeding on Ectopic Fat Deposition and Insulin Sensitivity: Testing the “Adipose Tissue Expandability” Hypothesis

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