It is normal to have the urge to overeat. Chances are your motivation to eat less and commit to foregoing that second (or third) helping of mac and cheese is at least partially tied to your desire to lose weight, get ripped, and look better overall. But in case your six-pack fantasies aren’t enough to motivate you to push back from the table, you should probably know that overeating will do a lot more than just pack on the pounds. This simple act can trigger wide-reaching health consequences—from sleep disturbances to the development of digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome or IBS.
While calorie needs vary from person to person, based on factors like age, height and weight, fitness goals, and overall activity level, the bottom line is this: You’re much more likely to overeat and consume too many calories if you eat lots of processed foods (which are high in refined grains and sugar), don’t get enough fiber, and drink a lot of sugary drinks or alcohol.
Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a burger and a beer from time to time, but it’s all about balance. And when you know the true impact that all of those excess calories can have on your body, it’ll be much easier to practice moderation.
Here are five ways that overeating might be taking a toll on your body:
1. Increased fatigue and weakness
A popular habit among those looking to lose weight and/or tone up is to drastically restrict calories on certain days, only to eat very large amounts on other days. And this vicious cycle not only has a negative affect on both your waistline and mental health (when you beat yourself up for not sticking to the plan), but the blood sugar roller coaster it causes can also lead to exhaustion, muscle weakness, and difficulty concentrating.
A common example of this pattern is people who severely limit their diet during the weekdays and then have cheat days (read: binge days) on the weekend. In some instances, calorie or carb cycling might be beneficial, but the majority of people will notice unwanted side effects from not getting enough fuel and nutrients for days on end, only to overdo it on others.
Hypoglycemia is the official name of the condition caused by low blood sugar levels, or low glucose. Glucose is mostly found in carbohydrate foods, so a rebound effect of yo-yo eating is that you’re typically left craving sweets and other junk foods to provide more energy, setting the stage for a binge afterward. Additionally, overeating processed foods—even if only on certain days—takes a lot of digestive energy, often leading to sluggishness and lethargy.