A question I often get asked by clients is; “how can one day of over eating be so bad!?”

This relates to the goal of trying to lose body fat and improve your physique. Obviously to do this effectively you need a structured exercise plan that has you resistance training. You also need to have a nutritional plan that coincides with your training and has you in a calorie deficit – that is, you are burning more calories than you are eating.

Now, in my opinion, the easiest way to manage your nutrition is to track your food. In its basic terms, this means that you have set macro nutrient targets (protein, carbohydrate and fat) for each day. These macro nutrient targets mean that you have a daily calorie goal. This means that you are measuring your calorie intake and therefore you are able to manage this in accordance with your training and your goals. To get more information on macros and how to set up your own nutrition plan, please read my previous blogs on this topic; https://www.awpthub.com/how-do-i-calculate-my-macros/.

Now back to the matter in hand. So, you have your exercise plan sorted and you have your macro targets for each day. For examples sake, let’s say that you work out with weights 4 times a week and you are to eat 2000 calories a day, where protein is at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight and your carbohydrate and fat targets are set to your activity levels and personal preference. You are active on your non-lifting days, as you track your movement, and you average around 10,000 steps a day.

For the first three weeks on the plan, everything is going fantastically. You are dropping around 1 pound in weight per week, your strength in the gym is good, you haven’t missed a workout and you have hit your macros every day. Your progress pictures are beginning to show that your physique is changing for the better.

Week 4 comes around and you have a weekend away planned. You’ve been good all throughout the week, with your training and your macros, in the lead up to the weekend. Over the weekend away you don’t train, you don’t track your macros and you eat whatever you want/can. As the new week begins you get back on track with the plan.

Your next check in comes around and you have actually gone up in weight. How can this be! I only came off the plan for 2 days. Surely it can’t be that bad.

Well the truth is that it actually could be that bad. Using the above statistics (and as an example) your training and nutrition has you in a 200 calorie a day deficit. The perfect amount to allow your body to shift some body fat without making you feel like death warmed up.

So, at 2000 calories a day, you’re eating 14,000 calories a week which puts you at a 1400 calorie deficit for the WEEK!

Over the course of the weekend away you have a couple of beers and a pizza followed by some ice cream. This is on top of your usual breakfast, lunch and snacks. The additional calories in the foods listed above can quite literally wipe out your WEEKLY deficit that you have created.

A medium pizza can contain anything from 800 calories upwards.

Add in 2 beers at around 350 calories together.

And a serving of ice cream at around 250 calories.

And you have 1400 calories in one meal. If you are away for a weekend and you eat whatever you want for every meal for 2 days then the number of calories you consume could be MUCH HIGHER than this example.

So, you have worked your arse off all week to get yourself into a calorie deficit only to defeat the purpose by eating ‘off plan’ one night of the week. Do this consistently enough and you will be ‘spinning your wheels’. This is especially relevant to those of you eating less than 2000 calories a day (females take note here) as your room for error will be EVEN LESS. If you are eating 1500 calories each day and then you eat the example ‘off plan’ food above, that could equate to nearly a full DAYS WORTH OF FOOD (calories) in one meal.

“I just don’t understand why I’m not progressing to my goals!?”

My reply to this is always:

“Have you done your workouts and have you hit your macros?”

The reply often comes back “no, I didn’t hit my macros *enter reason here*” and then I say for them to get back on the plan for this week and we will reassess next check in. If the client cannot do what I am asking them to, in terms of consistently following the plan I have provided them, then they leave me nothing to manage. There is no point in me changing their macros or their training if they aren’t consistent with what we have previously set. Change takes time, consistency and patience. What gets measured gets managed.

Now, before anyone jumps on their high horse, and shouts “we all have to live a little Adam you boring bastard!”, I am fully aware of this. That is why you track your food. If you track your food whilst you are away then you will be able to fit something tasty in your macros. A ‘treat’ if you will. It just might mean that you might only be eating lean protein and veggies in your other meals to allow a treat into your day. This is the ease of tracking your food and staying on plan.

Your other option, if you know you are going to be away for the weekend and you don’t want to track your food and you will be making ‘non-optimal’ food choices, then you can create a ‘buffer’ both before and after the weekend.

This means that you take 100-200 calories a day away from your daily calories in the 5 days leading up to the weekend away and for the two days following the weekend. Take these calories from your carbohydrates and fats (which ever you prefer, or a mixture of both) and make sure your protein stays as it should be (around 1 gram per pound of body weight).
This ‘buffer’ will create a larger room for some ‘treats’. Although you have created this ‘buffer’ in the lead up to the weekend away, DO NOT TAKE THE PISS when you are away. Calories are calories and if you still eat over the calorie deficit you have created in the build up to your trip away YOU WON’T LOSE ANY WEIGHT!

Be mindful of your choices and weigh up whether the goal for you is your physique or your social life. If your social life is more important to you then by all means eat and drink freely, just don’t come back from your weekend away crying because you are not progressing towards your physique goal. If you are that out of shape, that disappointed with how you currently look and that desperate to see a positive change to your physique happen then sometimes you have to sacrifice certain food and drinks on social occasions. When you have reached your body image goal, got leaner with a higher amount of muscle mass, you will have more room to play with in terms of the calories you can eat. As I previously said, this takes commitment, patience and consistency.

Remember, what gets measured gets managed.

If you need any help or advice on your training and nutrition then please feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading.

Written by: Adam Wakefield

I have been working as a personal trainer for over 9 years. I began my career in the fitness industry after completing a degree in Sport Science where I graduated with Upper Class Honours. I have always had a thirst for all things related to health, fitness and nutrition and it wasn’t before long that I owned my own gym.

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