Supporting a losing sports team makes you fat

I have written several posts in the past about our ever expanding knowledge of psychology, sports and weight gain. As a cosmetic plastic surgeon, weight loss is an important part of counseling my patients. Here are some of these posts to refresh your memory:

Rules for eating

Choices in eating

NFL teams photo


Weight loss, weight gain, obesity and misery—new research

A new study has shown that our intake of calories and saturated fat—and our weight gain—is linked to how well or how badly the sports teams we support are doing.

The study showed that if your team loses, the you will increase your intake of food calories and saturated (bad) fat the next day by at least 16 percent. If your sports team wins, you actually eat healthier foods and decrease your caloric and saturated fat intake by 9 percent.

If your team loses on Sunday, on Monday you are likely to go for a greasy burger and fries (weight gain); if your team wins, it looks like you will be eating salad (weight loss)!

Both male and female fans display same behavior.

The effect is greatest in cities where sports fans are known to be “sports crazy” like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with caloric intake increasing up to 25 percent over normal after a loss. That is almost the equivalent of eating another entire meal!

Past research has shown that there is an increase in heart attacks, car accidents and even domestic violence among supporters of losing teams.

These effects are amplified if you are one of those true and crazy supporters. If you refer to your team’s performance as “we lost” or “we won” rather than “they lost” or “they won,” the effects of your team’s playing on your eating habits will be greater.

Sports psychology affects eating habits

The explanation for these effects seem obvious now that we know about them. If your team loses, you feel miserable and make yourself feel better by partaking of comfort food. The researchers also point out that failure in life makes us look at the short-term results and take on a “to hell with it” attitude. The same thing happens if your lover leaves you—you might start binging on chocolate or alcohol!

On the other hand, a winning team or a success in life makes you look long-term at future possibilities.  Eating salad and staying healthy means you might be around to see even more victories and savor the exhilaration of your team winning the championship!

Fooling our brains

As you may have gathered from my previous weight loss posts, I am of the firm opinion that we have two distinct yet interdependent parts in our minds—the slow and the fast brain, or the ego and the id.

The ego is impulsive, like an impetuous child—fickle and unreasonable but imaginative and creative,  wanting satisfaction for all its needs (food, sex, material gain, etc.) now.

The id is compulsive, the deliberative, learned, docile, cautious and unimaginative part of your brain that will delay satisfaction of its needs for as long as necessary.

A healthy balance is best. Too much ego and you will flit away a sure-to-be short life in a fury of reckless sex, drugs, gluttony and unemployment.

Too much id and you are sure to become an insufferably boring, lonely, complicated and dull individual who will die before ever taking a vacation.

A sports team’s loss angers the ego, which demands satisfaction with at least a greasy meal. A win feeds the id in its “righteousness.”

All’s well as long as you know that you, as an individual, are being manipulated by your own brain . . .

 With the current 2020 suspension of sports it will be interesting to see if this theory hold true now that everyone is needing to ffed our egos!

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland