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Why Cheat Days And Binge Days Are Not A Smart Thing To Do (Diary From A Former Binge Eater)

Cheat days are not something which you should strive for during your weight loss process. Here are my tips and tricks on how to enjoy long-term dieting without craving for junk food.
Milos Vujnovic Posted In Gym Beginners Journey

First of all, if you’ve decided to have a cheat day or binge-eat the whole day, and you’re reading this post just to find approval for your future eating actions, by all means, please continue what you’re intending to do – but you won’t find any approval about that here. What you’ll find instead is the smart approach of eating by not starving yourself or by not excluding your favorite foods or snacks from your current diet.

Strategic Approach

When I was watching my calorie intake and logging every gram of food which I’ll eat during the day, I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come.

Why? Because during the weekend “i can relax”, not think about logging or measuring food and eat whatever I’d like to eat. What would happen during those weekends is that I’d start by “eating healthy”, then eat a piece of cake or two, take my family to lunch where I’d indulge myself with lots of different foods, and voila – with some strange magic my daily intake for Saturday (or Sunday) would be well over 4500kcal if not more.

Monday will come by, I’d feel miserable from the weekend before because reality will kick in and I’ll remember how many different foods I’ve eaten during those days.

I’d then start with my regular daily intake, continue training during work days and then the same process would happen again.

With this whole approach I was spinning my wheels constantly, having small to virtually none muscle gains, and my bodyweight was always the same or a bit larger – and I was planning to cut my weight after all.

Again, this process continued for a whole year and after a year I was at the same bodyweight as I’ve started, with some small changes to my overall look, body fat levels, and strength levels.

So as you can see – definitely not an optimal way of doing things especially if you have a clear short-term and long-term goals for your fitness.

Ingraining Discipline

I was always a person who had a routine for my work, for my house/yard work and for my training at the gym.

However, during my first year(s) training at the gym, what I’ve used to do is to “lie” to myself sometimes when it comes to my nutrition and eat a snack or two then say to myself that I’ll “burn” those calories with exercises and then somehow everything will be good.

So after experiencing my binge eating approach, I decided to discipline myself regarding my whole nutrition and weight loss plan – but this time, I wouldn’t think about over-eating during the weekend, but I also wouldn’t practically starve myself with low calories during my work days.

So here’s what I’ve done… I recalculated my TDEE, added +200 calories on top of it, and started training on compounds lifts (Squat, Bench Presses, Deadlifts) like a mad man – heavy triples, heavy doubles, testing singles and all that stuff.

After few days of training I noticed that I was feeling hungry a lot, but instead of looking at my set calorie intake for that day, I’d go over +150 or +200 calories on that as well (with some sense of not overeating of course).

Due to strength training which I was doing, I was craving meat and other whole foods instead of petty sugary snacks. I also cut out snacks and other things since they didn’t help me to recover for the next workout and lift heavier weight. Also, I still felt hungry after eating those snacks, so there was no logical way to include them at all.

So Friday came around and I was still NOT thinking about indulging myself during the weekend. Strange isn’t it?

The weekend came and I continued eating meat, eggs, whole foods and other stuff – I actually wanted to “cheat” with good foods instead – more meat and more protein! So I did – I ate lots of protein, slept well, felt great on Sunday and then repeated the whole process.

On Monday I didn’t felt miserable at all (like I did during my binge eating days) – I felt recovered and ready for my training day.

I took a look on my calorie tracking app and I’ve remembered that I’ve actually logged everything during the weekend with no sense of wrong doing – even logged few beers which I had during my meat eating fast.

It also turned out that I’ve eaten an average of 3500 kcals, which was great considering that my TDEE and work-day intake was around 3200.

Quite a difference on my former binge eating days where I’ve eaten well over 4500 calories if you’d agree. So – I continued with my new nutrition plan and felt great overall – even got to tone down a little on my weekend days since I’ve felt that if I would to over-eat (even on meat) I’d go much over my set TDEE/daily intake and that I would just spin my feels and not lose fat at all.

This decision was an easy thing to make since I wasn’t depriving myself of calories during my work days.

What Can You Learn From My Experience

⦁ Calculate your TDEE using one of many online calculators (see my Resources page)

⦁ Set a daily intake from your TDEE and test it out for a week (including weekend)

⦁ If you feel hungry a lot and start craving for different foods, raise your TDEE +200 or +300 calories and test out again

⦁ Try replacing sugary snacks or drinks with foods like almonds and peanut butter

⦁ Instead of eating chips or popcorn, prep a quick meal with red meat (season it, however, you’d like to)

⦁ Don’t forget your water intake during the weekend as well

⦁ Don’t stress out if you overate on good foods as well but try reducing those “healthy overeating” days by -100kcal for a start

⦁ There’s no reason to feel angry at yourself even if you’ve had a sugary snack or two – if that fits in your daily calorie intake (TDEE), that’s completely fine. But have in mind that that kind of foods will not help your body recover for your next training session.

Closing Thoughts

I hope you’ve learned something from my experiences.

If you have currently “cheat weekends” where you binge all the way (and then feel bad afterward) I’d urge you to read my recommendations above.

The main takeaway from all of this is that I believe that you’re depriving yourself of calories during the work days, then you fill out those remaining calories during the weekend and go overboard with everything.

This is certainly not a good long-term solution and from my personal experience you won’t have optimal results at all.

P.S. I know that all of this makes perfect sense especially to someone who has experience training at the gym and eating properly – but I still felt compelled to write eat since if I’d stumbled upon a blog post like this during my binge eating ways, it would make me think more logically and make me change my nutrition plan.

Cheers,
Milos

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