How Our Bodies Cope with All-You-Can-Eat Meals

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Everyone's got something special they miss from the time before the pandemic. Hugging your friends and feeling safe to fly are some of the big ones, but small pleasures elude us too. One that may not see a revival once COVID dies down is the buffet, which might change everything from weddings to family outings to casual trips to a restaurant.

That doesn't mean we'll never find ways to overindulge again — after all, ordering takeout has no limits either. And according to researchers at the University of Bath, doing so every once in a while isn't all that problematic, at least under certain conditions. A team has found that occasional maximal eating (e.g., "eat until you cannot manage another bite") doesn't disrupt the normal range of nutrients and hormones in your bloodstream.

"This study reveals that humans are capable of eating twice as much food as is needed to make us feel 'full,' but that our bodies are well adapted to an excessive delivery of dietary nutrients at one huge meal," said researcher James Betts. The study offers some important caveats, of course: Regularly overindulging in this way can lead to health complications. The study itself also only examined young, healthy men aged 22 to 37, which has implications for the results.

Still, if you're worried about "working off" a big meal, such as a holiday get-together, you may not have to spring for extra gym classes — or whatever it is we'll be able to access the next time you eat all that you can.