New research shows that a 'cheat day' might not be that bad
The study was only conducted with already healthy men, however.
- A new study at the University of Bath found that binge eating on occasion doesn't have major metabolic consequences.
- 14 healthy young men were instructed to eat pizza until full or to keep going until they couldn't eat another bite.
- Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten normally and blood lipids levels were only slightly higher than normal.
The eternal diet dilemma: to have a cheat day or to never indulge?
Researchers at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath wanted to understand the effects of overeating, given the prevalence of obesity in the Western world. They asked 14 men to eat pizza—or, as they wonderfully phrased it, a "homogenous mixed-macronutrient meal." Some of the volunteers ate a lot of pizza.
That was the point. The men, all between the ages of 22 and 37, were either told to eat until full or to keep going until they couldn't possibly eat another bite. The results of this study were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Despite some men eating up to two-and-a-half pizzas in one sitting (roughly 5,000 calories), their metabolism didn't change much. Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten a normal meal; their blood lipids levels were only slightly higher. All of this was a surprise to the researchers.
Not that all went swimmingly. Blood insulin was 50 percent higher and the signaling hormones that scream "hey, stop eating," were altered. Waist circumference and sagittal abdominal diameter increased in the overeating group, though for how long is not known.
The researchers noticed that, despite the prevalence of obesity, "no study has ever examined the metabolic response to eating beyond feeling comfortably full in a single eating occasion." They pulled from a few studies that detail the effects of overeating, yet those focus on weight gain, not metabolic changes.
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Lead researcher Aaron Hengist says the results showed the resilience of our body during times of excess.
"Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as 'full' and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus."
Of course, these were all young, healthy men, which will skew the outcome. Still, they expected more of a metabolic impact.
The researchers also focused on mood. Four hours after eating maximally, overeaters had no desire to eat sweet foods. This contradicts previous research that shows the brain's reward centers are food-specific—pizza shouldn't change cravings for sweets. The overeating groups also felt lethargic after their binge, which is to be expected.
The researchers are not giving a pass for overeating. Caloric intake remains the main driver of obesity. Signaling hormones are altered with continued overeating, making it difficult for the obese to know when to stop. Regular overeating changes body composition, metabolic rates, and mood.
In the past, humans had to stock up on food when they found it while hunting and foraging. We are equipped to handle the occasional caloric overload. James Betts, who was also involved in the study, says that an occasional binge for healthy people is not necessarily a bad thing.
"This study shows that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally, for example eating a large buffet meal or Christmas lunch, then there are no immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control."
Acknowledging the study's limitations of age, health, and gender of participants, the researchers are planning on investigating the metabolic and mood effects of operating on women, obese volunteers, and the elderly.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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