Free to indulge in pizza?

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as the saying goes. What about a pizza a week keeps you happy and lean? No, I didn’t think you would agree!

You still feel guilty when indulging on a weekly pizza and have to repent by half starving the rest of the week. Well, maybe it is not as bad as you thought according to new research findings. That is if you are a young, healthy male.

The rest of us have to wait until the research has been repeated by including a more representative population.

Anyway, here are the findings

The researchers at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath recruited fourteen men with a mean age of 28 years. The men completed two trials in a randomised crossover design, science speak for all participants interchangeably trying two different pizza diets so they in effect were their own controls. The gold standard for small experimental groups.

On each occasion, participants ate a pizza meal. One time they ate until ‘comfortably full’ (ad libitum) and on the other, until they ‘could not eat another bite’ (maximal). The average calorie intake in the all-you-can-eat trial was over 3000 kcal, roughly one and half large pizzas. However, some individuals were able to consume up to two and half large pizzas in one go.

Following each meal metabolic, endocrine, appetite and mood responses were measured. There were marked differences in mood and appetite between trials. After eating maximally, participants felt sleepy and reported no desire for dessert, which was surprising as reward centres in the brain are usually food specific, so eating pizza might not be expected to change the desire for sweet food.

But they found that even when the participants pushed beyond their usual eating limits, doubling their calorie intake, they managed to keep the amount of nutrients in the bloodstream within a normal range. This showed that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally there are no immediate, negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control.

Has to be a caveat

Yes, there is a caveat. The researchers had to disappoint by pointing out the long-term risks of over-indulgence with food when it comes to obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But the good news is that the body can actually cope remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden occasional calorie excess, being it a huge birthday cake or a Christmas meal. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as ‘full’ and still deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus.

Just becoming a bit sleepy.