Select Page

Reply To: Why does overfeeding work? (an alternate theory)

Blog Forums Raising Metabolism Why does overfeeding work? (an alternate theory) Reply To: Why does overfeeding work? (an alternate theory)


True, internet discussion can turn ugly quickly when there is disagreement, and I’m glad to see that our conversation isn’t going in that direction. I appreciate your courtesy.

It does sound like your experience has been totally different from mine. I never dieted to lose weight or intentionally limited calories for any reason until the last half year or so. For people who have been starving themselves trying to reach a media ideal of slimness, I can see how a period of overfeeding might be useful–both physically and psychologically.

In fact, I don’t even think that the media ideal is all that attractive, and I almost always prefer plus-sized models to the really skinny girls. However, obesity is different, and even though BMI is imperfect, we all know (if we admit it to ourselves) when extra weight is holding us back. For me, that point was around BMI 30, and I think I would probably look and feel best at 25-26, which is the lower part of the “overweight” range. Naturally everyone has to decide where they should be for themselves–and then figure out how to attain their goals without sacrificing health. If overfeeding works for many people, I congratulate them on their success. I’m only sharing my experience because I’m finding success with a more conventional approach to health and weight control, and strange as it may sound, I think conventional approaches are poorly represented in online nutrition forums.

Concerning BMR, I understand that you’re hoping for increases in BMR independent of changes in body mass and body composition. I agree that this is possible for people who are emerging from a starvation situation, which may in fact describe your situation. However, in my opinion, most people who increase their BMR through overfeeding are seeing the increase because of changes in body mass. There isn’t data on this that I’m aware of, so I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree. I just don’t think there are many Americans in a true starvation state, even if they do diet periodically.

My thinking on the neurochemical responses to overeating and exercise is based both on experience and independent research. A quick google search for “endorphins and exercise” and “endorphins and overeating” will show that there are similar chemicals involved in each case. As for experience, I just ran a Thanksgiving 5k this morning, and I’m enjoying a mild state of euphoria, just like I might if I ate a large pizza with ice cream. Of course, since this is Thanksgiving, I might end up with a double dose of euphoria after indulging in some gluttony over at the inlaws’ place!

As for differences in food consumption between now and the last century, the existing evidence suggests that we eat more than we used to. I understand you dispute this evidence, but I find it compelling. As corroborating evidence, we’re taller than we used to be, and our athletes seem to be getting stronger and faster, while the average sedentary person is getting fatter. It’s also likely that historically, people ate more carbs and less protein/fat than we do today, and it’s harder to overeat if you’re consuming 70% of your calories as rice or potatoes. It’s also hard to overeat when all food is expensive relative to total incomes, which it was until relatively recently.

You say that I’m oversimplifying in my neurochemical theory. Guilty as charged! Just about any theory I’ve read on nutrition that attempts broad explanations is going to be too simple, which is why, ultimately, I think that most nutrition theories (especially the popular ones online) are just rationalizations for what people believe because of emotions, intuitions, or personal experience. This is why I value personal experience in these discussions more than just about anything else, the theories often being window dressing to the real motivation.

I apologize if I didn’t address everything in your post. Unfortunately, I need to go shower and get ready for the day with family. Have a great holiday! (If I’m wrong to assume you’re an American, then I hope you have a great Thursday even without the Turkey…)