'Tis the season for jack-o’-lanterns, trick or treating, and potentially eating enough candy to put you in a food coma until Thanksgiving. While the mantra “everything in moderation” is especially applicable when heading into the holidays, your willpower might take a backseat when you're faced with a pile of candy.
So what would happen if you inhaled just over 33 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or the amount it would take to rack up the 3,500 calories that comprise a pound of weight gain? Would you be bedridden for a week or grow a beer belly (a la The Santa Clause)?
Luckily, it's none of the above, says David Metz, M.D., professor of medicine and associate chief for clinical affairs of the gastroenterology division at the University of Pennsylvania. As it turns out, your body’s natural processes can take on the binge, turning your digestive system into the Olivia Pope of your anatomy.
Your Digestive Organs Do Business as Usual
That amount of Reese’s would (obviously) pack a whopping load of sugar and carbs—347 and 396 grams, respectively. Like any other food, they go through the stomach, where they get ground down then delivered into the small bowel, where they mix with enzymes to be broken down even further, says Metz. Then, they're absorbed through your small bowel and hit your bloodstream in what feels like a sugar bomb (346 grams' worth).
Your Blood Sugar Raises the Roof
When you get a sudden increase in blood sugar, says Metz, there are various receptors in the body that tell your pancreas it's time to shine. That organ releases insulin to make use of the excess glucose by storing it in the liver or converting it into fuel, says Metz. That helps get your blood sugar down after a spike, but this process can be accompanied by nausea, excess energy, and an eventual, epic crash. If you don’t make chowing down on 33 Reese’s at a time a habit, you'll stay a healthy lady. But if you start downing bags of your Halloween candy crush on the regular, you'll start losing insulin.
You Won't Gain Much Fat...For Now
Another thing to take into account is the calories. While your clothes will probably still fit after eating a pound of Reese’s, repeatedly overdoing it can cause weight gain, says Metz. And because biology is the worst: If you keep consuming more than you burn, you will gain weight—simple as that. Besides the calorie count, 33 Reece's also contain 149 grams of saturated fat, which could cause you to bulk up around your belly and put your heart at risk if you down this many peanut butter cups long after Halloween is over. (But remember: Just doing it once won't have a long-term impact on your weight.)
Your Body Prepares to Dump the Toxic Waste
Though eating an entire pound's worth of candy might make you want to lie in bed for a solid 12 hours, it only takes about four hours to completely empty your stomach after a big meal, says Metz. The downside is that there’s basically nothing you can do to make the bloated, super-full feeling pass after all that candy since you can’t help the food absorb faster, says Metz. That uncomfortable sensation you get from pounding chocolate and peanut butter isn't just caused by your expanding stomach; it's also because the sugar is affecting your hormones and your body is trying to settle the blood sugar spike, he says.
Bottom line: While your body can deal with overindulgence on that level, it probably won’t be too happy with you for putting it through that. If you're looking to avoid a potential binge, here are five genius things to do with your leftover Halloween candy (Instead of gorging on it).
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