08 Aug Don’t undo all your hard work
Your diet is going well. You feel like you have made a real change to your lifestyle. But, nothing is happening. What gives?
As discussed before, you need to be in a Calorie deficit to lose weight. You don’t have to be in a Calorie deficit every day, but over a week or a month, you need to be in a Calorie deficit to lose weight. To lose 1lb of body weight you need to create a Calorie deficit of 3500 KCals. For every 3500 Calorie deficit you create, you’ll lose 1lb of body weight.
Over a week, this breaks down to burning 500Kcals more than you consume
e.g. Energy out = 2700 and Energy in =2200 OR Energy out =2000 and Energy in =1500.
To learn more about Energy In/Out click here.
Let’s say you make it through the work week and you’re killing it. You’re eating well and walking more, you even worked out 3 times. This results in a total Calorie deficit of 2500Kcals from Mon-Fri. Awesome.
But, then Saturday comes around and you get lazy:
- You don’t want to make breakfast so you get 3 potato & egg breakfast tacos from the place down the street (~700 Kcals).
- Your buddy then invites you to lunch at the local sports bar because you haven’t seen each other in a while and catch up. You’re still hungry so you have 6 slices of deep dish pizza BBQ chicken pizza with a side of ranch and a soda (1700Kcals).
- Then, night time comes around and you want to watch the college game with the guys, now you have chips and queso, wings, a few beers. Your team wins and you celebrate with some ice cream when you get home (~1800Kcals).
Your total Energy In for the day was 4200Kcals!
Even if you were somewhat active that day you just wiped out most of the good work done during Mon-Fri, and we haven’t even made it to Sunday yet. This is an example of just how easy it can be to undo all your hard work when you’re not being mindful of what you’re doing.
So, what’s the key to success in this situation? Don’t skip out on the fun things in life, just follow these 3 steps: preparation, damage limitation, and the morning-after routine.
- Preparation: If you know you’re going to have an evening where lots of food will be available/you don’t want to miss out, then go easy on the Calories earlier in the day. Instead of getting breakfast tacos from a restaurant/fast food place, make eggs and bacon at home. If you’re good at controlling hunger you can just skip breakfast all together and save all the Calories.
- Damage limitation: Making some simple swaps during our day can save a lot of Calories. Swapping deep dish pizza for thin-crust can save a lot of Calories, Swapping soda for diet-soda (or water) can save Calories, and swapping regular beer for light beer (or Whisky and diet coke) can save Calories.
- Morning-after routine: Compensate for the extra Calories but making it up it the next morning. Go for a walk or a workout. Have a low-Calorie breakfast or fast (don’t eat) until noon the next day. If you fast, ensure the first meal of the day (around lunch time) contains a lot of protein.
Let me share a personal example:
A previous Sunday I met up with a couple friends, one of whom was leaving town for a while. We initially planned to go to a cafe but the line was too long so we went to a Taco place. I have a potato & bacon breakfast burrito (1100Kcals). I then went next door and tried Cinnabon for the first time. I had a Carmel pecan Cinnabon (1100Kcals). I was pretty full for the afternoon but my fiance and I went for dinner at a local restaurant; I had a potato-chip crusted chicken breast with fires and ranch (I’m guessing another 1500-2000 Kcals). So in total, I consumed around 3700-4200Kcals.
Not a good day.
However, let’s see how I worked around it.
- Preparation: I didn’t anticipate the Cinnabon, but I did know we were going out for dinner. So, I skipped lunch.
- Damage limitation: During dinner, I had water – not a Calorie-containing beverage – and we skipped dessert.
- Morning-after routine: I did not eat until noon, and when I did eat it was a protein bar and a banana. I ate light the rest of the day and made sure my step count was high.
The result: I was able to enjoy good food, enjoy company with friends without feeling like I was missing out, and not gain a bunch of Calories in the process.
This post was not about how to create a Calorie deficit. It was about not ruining all the hard work we put in during the week. You can still have fun in life without ruining your results.
What did we learn?
Today, we looked at how one ‘cheat day’ – intentional or not – can undo much of your hard work. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re doing when you’re out of normal routine (weekends, vacations, and trips). Most importantly, we learned that when we do want to enjoy ourselves with food, we can mitigate the effects by using these 3 steps: preparation, damage limitation, and the morning-after routine.
If you learned something today, or have a question, please leave a comment below.
– Coach Alex