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Inside the diet of a man who eats 20,000 calories on his 'cheat day': But, is it healthy?

Jack Manchester ate 20,000 calories in one day. (Caters)
Jack Manchester ate 20,000 calories in one day. (Caters)

A man who ate 20,000 calories in just one day has warned others that overeating like this is ‘not healthy’.

Jack Manchester, 29, a bodybuilder, set himself the challenge of eating over one week’s worth of calories in just one day as part of a ‘cheat day’.

The bodybuilder, from Leeds, often has large cheat days - as in days where he eats meals higher in calories - but this was his biggest cheat day yet.

From 6am to 10.45pm, Manchester consumed meals such as oats with chocolate, Nutella and peanut butter, six pittas with turkey breasts, multiple cinnamon rolls, a chicken curry, prawn curry, naan breads, two double cheese pizzas among other items.

His most calorific meal was his ‘dessert’ that he ate at 10.45pm, consisting of 16 Dominos cookies, ice cream, Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate and honey.

Health eating: Read more

He also ate 12 crumpets for breakfast, with Nutella, peanut butter, maple syrup and a banana.

Dinner was a chicken curry, prawn curry, two naan breads and two portions of rice followed by two double cheese pizzas.

"I'm a bodybuilder; I just have large cheat days," he explains. "This was a one-off and won't ever happen again; it's not healthy."

Jack loaded his food with Nutella and peanut butter to reach his calorie goals. (Caters)
Jack loaded his food with Nutella and peanut butter to reach his calorie goals. (Caters)

Manchester says he balances his cheat days by eating healthy and making sure he gets in 30,000 steps on the days he is eating a high amount of calories.

Recommended daily calorie intake for men and woman

Manchester’s cheat day saw him eat over a week’s worth of calories in just one day, as the recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2,500 calories.

For women, the recommended daily calories intake is 2,000 calories.

The amount of calories you need to maintain your weight, to gain weight or to lose weight will differ from person to person, taking into account your height, current weight, age and activity level. But these are the guidelines for the average man and woman.

What are calories and why are they important?

A calorie is a unit of energy, and the body needs energy to perform its everyday functions.

Simply existing burns calories, and any activity you do throughout the day, be it exercise or walking, burns excess calories.

This is why it’s important to eat a well-rounded nutritious diet so that your body has enough energy to function properly.

avocados and eggs
Calories are units of energy that help you live and all food has a certain number of calories. (Getty Images)

What happens if you eat too little or too many calories?

In its most basic form, eating less calories than your body burns will make you lose weight, while eating more calories than you burn will make you gain weight.

Many people who are trying to use weight ‘count calories’ to see how many calories they are eating per day and try to stick under a certain amount.

However, eating too few calories and losing too much weight can be potentially fatal, especially if you suffer from disordered eating like anorexia or bulimia.

Eating too many calories can cause you to gain weight, which can lead to obesity and other health problems.

However, you won’t gain weight if you eat over your daily recommended calorie intake. It takes an extra 3,500 calories a week to gain just 1lb.

Counting calories can also be problematic for people with disordered eating. After the government implemented its calorie labelling on restaurant menus, eating disorder charity BEAT said: “Requiring calorie counts on menus risks causing great distress for people suffering from or vulnerable to eating disorders, since evidence shows that calorie labelling exacerbates eating disorders of all kinds.

person holding a menu
Eating disorder charity BEAT condemned the government's decision to put calorie counts on menus. (Getty Images)

“Although we recognise the importance of reducing obesity, research shows that anti-obesity campaigns that focus on weight instead of health are counter-productive, while the number of calories consumed is not a reliable indicator of health.

“Public health campaigns need to consider people’s mental health as well as their physical health. They must move away from obesity-shaming to emphasising healthy behavioural changes and instilling confidence into people.”

Are all calories equal?

No. While an 80 calorie chocolate bar may have the same calories as a handful of berries, berries have more nutritional benefits for you than a chocolate bar.

The chocolate bar will have next to no nutritional benefits, while a handful of berries contain fibre, and micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and K.

It’s important to consider the nutrients of the food you are consuming as well as the calories. The NHS recommends eating 30 grams of fibre per day, and sourcing most of your fat intake from healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.

person with raspberries in hand
A handful of raspberries will have higher nutritional content than a chocolate bar. (Getty Images)

It also recommends eating no more than 30 grams of free sugars per day (or six teaspoons), which are the sugars added to food and drink, not the natural sugars found in fruit.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, the NHS recommends contacting your GP to make an appointment or calling Beat on its adult helpline 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.