As much as I advocate for fully optimized health through a diet that adheres to metabolic flexibility, I like to live my life as well.
It’s important to enjoy the best-tasting foods and have some culinary freedom.
But there’s nothing more ridiculous than the still-trending “10,000 calorie challenge” on social media.
It’s misleading, it’s harmful to your health if you do it the way it’s advertised, and it’s just a big fat waste of your time and money.
This short article will tell you all about this ridiculous trend and why you should avoid it.
And if you’ve never considered something like this, think of this article as re-affirmation of why you’re better off having never heard of it.
In other words, you’re going to learn…
How To Eat 10,000 Calories In A Day [Or More] Like Your Favourite Fitness Influencers On YouTube And Stay Ultra-Lean 365 Days A Year (WITH or WITHOUT Drugs)!
What Is The 10,000 Calorie Challenge?
The 10,000 calorie challenge is straightforward:
You consume a total of 10,000 calories within 24 hours or less, and without any dietary restrictions whatsoever.
As you can imagine, that’s where the fun part comes in.
You get the privilege of gorging on desserts, candies, pizzas, hamburgers, pancakes, whole buffets… literally a fast/junk food fantasy come true.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when this trend started, but I know early 2017 was when it achieved peak popularity on YouTube:
(Source: Google Trends)
Fortunately, this trend died off right before the COVID-19 pandemic and seems to have maintained a fraction of its peak popularity since then.
Not surprising when you consider the world spent 2+ consecutive years locked up in their homes, increasing their intake of processed foods and further fostering their disordered eating habits.
It’s also no shock to any human being with common sense when you look up “10000 calorie challenge” on YouTube and see the following:
Just to show you a sample of what you’re about to see, here’s the most highly-viewed YouTube video of all time showcasing the 10,000 calorie challenge:
Why would fitness influencers even want to make videos like this?
A few reasons immediately come to mind:
- It’s the perfect opportunity to create an eye-popping YouTube thumbnail that gets more clicks, viewers and subscribers
- It’s an easy to way to create an attention-grabbing title that (again) attracts more clicks, viewers and subscribers
- The influencer gets to show off an athletic body (and an attractive face) most people would die to have
- The influencer can take a break from “clean eating” and pig out on their favorite foods with a guilt-free conscience
- The YouTube algorithm heavily rewards people who can capitalize on emerging trends
- People are fascinated by extraordinary human beings who can “get away” with things they themselves are unable to do
But despite how glamorous this lifestyle appears to be on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram that reward gorgeous visuals, appearances can be deceiving.
In the same way frauds in the financial sector eventually get exposed, so too do fitness frauds who aren’t telling you the whole story.
Why You SHOULD NOT Do The 10,000 Calorie Challenge
Any human being with two brain cells to put together can easily come up with numerous reasons not to stuff their faces silly:
“It’s too expensive to buy all the food I need. I’m already fat enough and don’t want to get fatter. The last time I pigged out, I got bloated and felt like shit the next day. I’m not trying to impress anybody or grow a following online”
But I want to focus on two main reasons that come to mind.
People LIE On The Internet… All The Time!
Yes, I know, I know… it’s very hard to believe that the person you’re following is anything less than 100% truthful.
There’s a very strong incentive for influencers to distort the truth and show people what they WANT to see.
Take a look at YouTube fitness influencer “Alwayshungry” as an example:
If you don’t have time to watch the entire video or just want the short n’ sweet summary, here’s what is happening:
A young woman who claims to have formerly suffered from anorexia is now posting multiple videos per month of calorie-rich cheat days.
Despite consuming a ludicrous number of calories per week that would turn even an ultra-active +6′ tall +200lb man like me into a sumo wrestler, she stays perfectly lean without any visible fat gain.
On top of having an extraordinarily fast metabolism, this woman is also a sponsored athlete and has her own merchandise.
Putting financial incentives aside, here is how you get tricked into thinking all those thousands of calories worth of food are being consumed:
1) The woman is cleverly using jump cuts to give off the illusion of food being swallowed (see 3:37 and 6:11 in the video)
2) The woman is possibly swallowing the food but then spitting it out and/or throwing it up later when the camera is turned off.
3) No signs of fullness or slower eating despite well exceeding 3,000 calories in a single sitting
We’re not even getting into steroid use or training for several hours a day, both of which can burn significant amounts of extra calories when combined or in isolation.
We’re also not going to go into the advertising for these “binge eating promotions” on Instagram, where it’s way easier to fake eating +5,000 calories AND even get sponsored by restaurants and companies for posting food porn:
At some point in time, the law of thermodynamics has to come into play.
Fitness writer Lyle McDonald says it best in four simple words:
“It’s very simple, you can’t beat thermodynamics anymore than anything else in the universe. You. Are. Not. Different.
You can’t gain bodymass unless your energy intake exceeds your energy output because you can’t make something out of nothing (muscle or fat).
And you can’t lose bodymass unless your energy intake is less than your energy ouput. These are rules that every system in the universe has to follow, including the human body.”
And if we translate that into hard numbers:
“10000 calories is about 2.5 pounds of pure fat or about 5.5 pounds of sugar. That is a huge meal and beyond what most people can eat in one sitting by a factor of 3-5.
Assuming you managed to consume 10000 kcal in one sitting without vomiting. The food will be digested and absorbed in the routine fashion. Depending on the food digestion and absorbtion could take many hours, even over a day.
The majority of the energy in the food no matter what it consists of will be immediately stored as fat as it is being absorbed.”
You don’t get to wolf down 5,000-10,000 calories on a frequent basis and keep a super-shredded six pack unless you’re doing something extraordinary.
The fundamental takeaway is this:
People on the Internet doing the “10,000 calorie challenge” are LYING to you about what they eat so they can get you to watch their content, attract paid sponsorships, and eventually have you buy their products and services under false pretenses
If you want a graphic real-life example of how disgusting this habit can get in pro-level bodybuilders, Good Looking Loser wrote a good piece on how these athletes can stay lean despite consuming copious amounts of McDonald’s burgers.
The Desire To Binge Eat Represents Unmet Emotional Needs
Consider for a moment that your addiction to watching “calorie challenge” YouTube videos is a warning sign of an unconscious yet unmet emotional need.
Because regardless of whether you overload on “clean” or “dirty” foods, there are clearly negative health effects of eating too much food.
Higher risk of type 2 diabetes, dysfunctional balance of hunger hormones, tiredness, brain fog, excess body fat gain… the list goes on.
So what’s really going on?
First is how we perceive the term “cheat day/meal” and the shame behind it.
While I don’t agree with the concept of intuitive eating, it tackles the main problem with the need for cheat meals:
“The next time you think to categorize a food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, stop yourself and reframe that thought. If none of the foods you eat are considered ‘bad’, then the power of the cheat day and the guilt you experience from eating goes right out the window. How can you cheat on your diet if there’s nothing to cheat with?”
“If you feel the need to cheat on your diet, then your diet is clearly not okay. Some people defend cheat days by saying that the cheat days help them stay on their diet…
…if your diet doesn’t ‘allow’ the stuff that you’re eating on a cheat day, then is it really sustainable for the long term? And if it’s not sustainable for the long-term, chances are, at some point you’re going to backslide into your original situation.”
All of the obsessive planning and calculating over when the cheat day happens and how it happens reeks of a serious eating disorder.
When you take a step back and see this entire facade for what it is, you realize the YouTube fitness influencers are putting on a show.
Because people with REAL eating disorders aren’t turning on the camera and eating 10,000 calories for online fame and notoriety.
They’re doing this alone in dark corners where nobody can see them because of the shame they have and the judgment they’ll receive for engaging in this behavior.
I highly recommend following “The 5 Steps To Overcome Sabotage” framework outlined in The TOT Bible if you need a tool to help overcome obsessive thoughts about eating.
Combined with practical advice used to help people defeat the habit of over-eating, it is a very powerful practice for people seeking to change their dietary habits for good:
1) What Am I Feeling Right Now? Where is It in my Body? I Notice I feel….
I am feeling fear of missing out. I notice in my head that I am not living the life that is being protrayed to me.
2) Why Am I Feeling this way? What’s the thought, perception, belief or trigger?
I feel this way because I want to achieve what the other person has: A lean physique while breaking all the rules and eating foods I so desperately crave (There are no “good” or “bad” feelings here. Do not assume your feelings are impossible to address, or your needs cannot be met. Identify without judgment)
3) What do I Really NEED Right Now? What Questions can I use to break this down? Is it really, absolutely True? What is the feedback?
I need to feel validated. I need to receive approval that the life I live is full of abudance and excess, moreso than the people around me. (Accept your needs and feelings as they are right now, even if nobody else does)
4) What is the NEW Belief or Perception you are now choosing to get what you want? Change it to FAITH energy! See it out of Excitement, wonderment and curiosity.
I AM enough as I am with the food that I have in front of me right now. My plate is plentiful and I do not need more food to feel satiated and happy.
5) What is the ACTION you get to take NOW to give you what you want? In this circumstance, what would I get to do to get what I want? What is the next step?
Examples: I AM going to choose the foods that will help me feel most satiated. I AM going to push the plate away if I feel too full without feeling guilty for not licking the plate clean. I AM going to accept that not every area in my life requires an excess of supply for my satisfaction.
Make the conscious effort to use this tool whenever you encounter resistance to overeating, and you’ll be surprised at how even the strongest cravings can be handled with ease.
How WOULD You Eat +10,000 Calories In 24 Hours Without Getting Fat?
When it comes to vacations and “diet breaks”, you will not find anybody who can pound down more food than I can.
Two to three bowls of sugary cereal in one sitting. Swallowing pancakes at iHop like pills.
And ask anybody in my private inner circle about my legendary Denny’s eat-outs… nobody has out-eaten me and my record is undefeated.
But let me be clear: I do not advocate doing this on a regular basis.
What I’m going to show you here is how you would sanely — and wisely — tackle eating vast amounts of calories if you absolutely want to.
A Super-Basic Template For “Weekly” Cheat Meals
Years ago, I downloaded an eBook from a personal trainer who would have epic cheat days once a week during his cutting cycles.
I don’t want to repost the entire thing word-for-word, but it represents what I believe is the sanest approach to eating to your heart’s content without setting your progress back by several weeks.
Determining Your Caloric Intake For Your Fat Loss Diet:
- Determine the calories you have to eat per day to be in a caloric deficit, and multiply by 7 to get your total weekly calories
- Establish how many calories you want to eat on your cheat day
- Subtract your “cheat day” calories from your total weekly caloric intake
- Divide that number by 6 and you get how many calories you should be eating on the other days of the week
- Set up your macronutrient intake accordingly — The Metabolic Blowtorch Diet does this for you
Rules For The Cheat Day:
- DO NOT eat yourself sick — the point is to have fun and consume what you want, but not at the expense of feeling miserable
- Over time you will learn how to listen to your body and intuitively know what your limits are
- Drink as much lemon water as you can before your cheat day starts, AND during the entire cheat day
- Space your meals out by 3-4 hours so your body can properly digest all the excess foods
- Make sure you get at least 1 hour of physical activity in, through cardio or even brisk walking
The Day After Your Epic Feast:
- ~5 pounds of extra water weight and being bloated is normally what will happen
- Stock up on plenty of hydrating (water-rich) foods such as fruits and veggies to compensate for the “dehydrating” foods you ate on the cheat day
The Rest Of The Week:
- Make sure you are strictly adhering to your adjusted daily caloric intake
- You should be weight training at least 3-4x per week
- Do not skimp out on cardio! If you’re just starting off, a good daily goal is 10,000 steps (or 30-60 minutes of cardio)
A great example of this diet plan in action is the competitive eater Erik Lamkin.
His YouTube channel ErikTheElectric has 1.8 million subscribers and his eating challenges have individually amassed millions of views.
Here’s one of his eating challenges in action:
Yet if you dig deeper into what he’s doing, a LOT of preparation takes place for him to do just one eating challenge:
- One video involves multiple shots, thumbnail creation, and deliberate planning of each meal
- Erik is a competitive eater and prepares for his bouts with a strict routine (4L of water two to three hours before a competition, a small meal eaten before hand consisting of veggies and fruits)
- Erik is EXTREMELY active with his cardio — he bikes 1 hour a day at minimum, and no less than 90 minutes in the morning before an eating challenge
- Erik also lifts every single day and focuses on powerlifting
- Outside of eating challenges, Erik’s diet is mostly lean protein, complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables… none of the “dirty” foods he eats in his challenges
- Erik has recovered from a severe eating disorder that left him anorexic at age 17, so he knows a thing or two about an unhealthy relationship with food
While I don’t endorse this type of lifestyle, I can respect Erik’s transparency with what it takes to do what he does.
Eating this much food – and this frequently – is an enormous task that takes a lot of hard work, planning, and sacrifice.
Not exactly the pretty picture of an effortless lifestyle as portrayed by many fraudulent fitness influencers.
CONCLUSION: You’re Not Missing Out On Anything
The 10,000 calorie challenge is a great way for struggling fitness influencers to create entertaining clickbait content and build up their online following.
It’s the only positive thing I will say about the viral trend.
Nobody has any business eating this much food, and this frequently, unless they are actively involved in real eating competitions.
You’ve been sold into the lie that you HAVE to gorge yourself silly in order to have a happy and fulfilling life.
This trend is nothing more than another manifestation of America’s culture of excess.
More money, more material possessions, more trophies… and more food.
Save yourself the hole in your wallet. Save yourself the false fear of missing out on something that serves zero purpose in living a Level 10 life.
But most importantly: Save yourself from the worst food coma you will ever experience.
Raise Your Vibration To Optimize Your Love Creation!
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