If You Ate 11.3 Pounds of Food, Would You Gain 11.3 Pounds in Weight?

Sonya Thomas, competitive eating champion, weighs 98 pounds. At a contest in Maine last summer, she ate 44 lobsters, the equivalent of 11.3 pounds of meat. If you weighed her before and right after, would she weigh 11.3 pounds more?

Yes. “If you ate a pound of anything and stepped on the scale immediately, you would weigh a pound more,” says Carla Wolper, a nutritionist with the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. “But the digestive enzymes begin immediately, so that doesn’t last long.” In fact, because lobster is very low in calories (just 5,400 for those 11.3 pounds), and because the average 98-pound woman burns roughly 1,600 calories a day, Thomas would have consumed only 3,800 excess calories, which translate to just over a pound. By the next day, she probably only weighed a pound more.

Illustration by John Hersey