How can your body fat percentage decrease when you consume 5000 calories per day?

I will admit that this post has a somewhat sensational angle if one looks at the headline. But it is not. However, I intend to explain a number of things regarding what is sometimes called food manipulation.

People can use many strategies – or ‘strategies’, which means things that are not really planned but still happen – when it comes to nutrition. Even though I should not, I tend to binge eat when I am on holidays, but I have promised myself not to let it go too far. There are still some limits, even though they are of another kind than usual.

Anyway, before I went to Portugal/Morocco I had a cold and consequently could not exercise, and hence I saw it as a chance to cut calories and carbohydrates and lose some fat weight. I was really ’empty’ when I arrived in Lisbon. But even at the first night out of seven I started to binge eat, devouring almost a whole can of hazelnut cream, which is one of the most unhealthy foodstuffs you can eat since it contains a massive amount of calories and sugar. It will probably get you some headache and make you thirsty before you even have finished it.

The day after I ate an impressive amount of calories at McDonald’s, and continued with eating a couple of snickers or something similar almost every day of the rest of the trip. I ended the whole thing with consuming 500 grams of Kit Kat at the airport.

Still I looked great – perhaps even slightly better than before I left – and as far as simple mathematics goes, I did of course also decrease my overall percentage of body fat. How is that so? Well, if one’s glycogen levels are low and one eats a lot of sugar/carbohydrates and foodstuffs overall, then one: 1) Starts to fill up the glycogen levels which make the muscles look more swelling (in a good sense), and 2) One increases body weight without gaining body fat, which thus leads to lower levels of body fat, percentage-wise. At a certain point, the massive calorie surplus will lead to a increase of body fat, but not in the initial phase, let’s say for the first three or four days – depending on a number of variables such as body weight in relation to muscular development and, of course, the more exact amount of calories and carbohydrates.

Plus – and here is a perhaps less obvious point – if one does long and fast walks in excessive heat, as I did in Morocco, the metabolism will ‘kick start’ and one will get a very different caloric equilibrium than just before. The body has to do that in order to handle the new conditions, which are far more calories than in the earlier phase, and due to this particular environment and behavioral-physiological pattern.

This will probably also last for a couple of days when you are back to a regular fitness lifestyle with a more balanced amount of calories (less carbohydrates/sugar, no trans fats, and more proteins) and you will thus likely lose some more weight during the short initial period after getting back to normal.

In fine, this is a good example of how your body make adjustments in relation to changed nutritional patterns and other conditions. That kind of dynamics will definitely not lead to good results in the long run, but if you know what you are up to, then you can use your chosen ‘strategy’ – such as to eat excessive amounts of calories – for some relative good in the short term.