It happens to the best of us during weight loss: a day of weakness, where calories and all the foods you avoided take their revenge with a vengeance. Does that mean that all your dieting was for nothing?
A Moment Of Weakness
So for four weeks you religiously followed your diet, counted calories, ate salads, learned to like low-fat yoghurt and embrace the fun that is found in a raw carrot.
Then it happens. You start fantasizing about chocolate cakes, nachos, pizzas with double cheese, creamy milkshakes and everything else you strictly avoided. The first direct confrontation with any of these and you just can’t say no anymore. And after having that shake at lunch, it becomes easier to go all out and indulge yourself fully.
Usually that lasts until the evening, when after the last bite you feel really, really guilty. You are so full, it seems that in the course of one day you made up for every morsel you avoided over an entire month.
Is it really that bad? No, and I’ll show you through a simple calculation.
Let’s say to maintain your weight, you need 2,600 kcal / day, but during your diet ate 1,800 / day. This is a daily deficit of 800 kcal and if you did it for one month (800 x 30) that’s 24,000 kcal, equaling a loss of almost 7 lbs (because losing 1 lb of body weight requires a deficit of about 3,500 kcal).
To give you an idea how much food you already said no to at that point, here are 24,000 kcal measured in food:
- 41 Big Macs
- 8 14″ pepperoni pizzas
- 240 brownies
- 20 gallons of Coca-Cola
- 81 Snickers bars
- 75 cream-filled donuts
- 7 gallons of chocolate milkshake
Alright, on that bad day it does feel like you ate that much, doesn’t it? So let’s say you really and totally pigged all out. I let my imagination run wild:
- 4 cream donuts for breakfast (1,280 kcal)
- a large pepperoni pizza and large Coke for lunch (3,350 kcal)
- 2 Snickers bars as afternoon snack (592 kcal)
- 3 Big Macs and a large chocolate shake for dinner (2,310 kcal)
- 8 brownies as dessert (800 kcal)
This, mind you, is an amount most people won’t manage even if they tried to get as much food down as they could.
Yet even if your day of sin really looked like this, you “only” managed to eat 8,332 kcal. From these you still have to subtract the 2,600 needed to keep your weight steady, leaving an excess of 5,732. Only seven days of your diet were turned to nothing.
Forgive Yourself A Day Of Weakness
The moral of the story is: it is really hard to outeat your diet through one single day of weakness. The worst you could do is take it as a reason to end your diet. That will certainly keep you fat. Instead see it as what you needed to carry on and keep losing weight.
I, in fact, encourage people to plan regular cheat days in my weight loss advice. Because they allowed me to keep my sanity when I lost weight and helped me see the end of the road.
Picture courtesy of Ryan Hyde.