By Tom Venuto
After you overindulge, I definitely do NOT recommend skipping your next meal or skipping meals the next day to make up for it. I usually don’t even recommend cutting back either, although there may be exceptions where you could manipulate your meal size or macronutrient composition.
I generally recommend returning immediately to your “regularly scheduled meal programming,” because this continues to encourage the maintenance of positive habits such as eating 5-6 small meals every day.
I do suppose whether you cut back could depend on whether you’ve been on low calories a long time, how lean you were already, and on whether you were in a caloric deficit already. If you were in a calorie deficit for the day, then the extra calories might only bring you up to maintenance, not “over” your daily limit, which might not be as damaging as if you were in a calorie surplus.
If you were already very lean or had been dieting strictly for a long time (as in a bodybuilder coming off a competition), a large meal or entire high calorie day might not have any negative effect either. Your metabolism has a way of slowing down if you keep your calories too low 100% of the time.
With occasional (planned) higher calorie days, you’d be using the BURN THE FAT “zig-zag” or “cycling” principle, so eating more in this context can be a positive thing. (Note: You can learn more about this technique in the BURN THE FAT program at www.burnthefat.com). However, there’s a big difference between a planned “cheat meal” or a planned high carb, clean food “re-feed” day and a binge on junk food. Regardless of total 24 hour calorie intake for the day, you could still store body fat after heavy eating if it’s done at certain times and in a certain metabolic state.
Although I do prescribe calorie levels based on daily (24 hr) needs, I believe you should also pay attention to 3 hour “windows” when you’re thinking about adjusting your caloric intake. Calories and macronutrients (protein/aminos, carbs/sugar and fat) are partitioned into glycogen, muscle or fat tissue or burned immediately depending very much on present moment energy and recovery needs and on what’s going to happen over the next 3 hours or so as the food enters your system.
So, if you’re going to be plopping down on the couch to watch football games for the rest of the day and night after that big holiday meal, beware – you might just want to cut back on that next meal a little, especially starches and sugars.
Bottom line: It’s okay to eat small amounts of your favorite junk foods once in a while as planned “free meals,” and it’s a good idea to eat more in general from time to time to keep your metabolism humming along. However, your best bet if you’re really serious about fat loss is to avoid huge meals and avoid bingeing in the first place. ALWAYS practice portion control – even on holidays.
If you ever do slip, don’t beat yourself up, just get right back on the wagon with your next meal and remember, the past is behind you and today is a new day.
Tom Venuto, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
P.S. If you’re interested in burning fat naturally in a healthy, sensible way, then be sure to take a look at Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle – it’s the best place to start your journey: www.BurnTheFat.com
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