So you’ve stuck to your nutrition plan religiously for 4,8 or maybe even 12 weeks now. You have experienced some great results and nothing can stop you. Suddenly, you have found yourself half way through a cheese burger and large chips. All that hard work and all those results are surely ruined.
Or are they?
Many of our Doreen personal training clients experience this exact situation. A holiday, social or family event can come up and this often includes lots of foods; foods likely not part of your regular eating.
What should you do if you do ‘slip up’?
1) DON’T OVERTHINK IT
One of the biggest issues people have with nutrition is in their head. Your psychology of food will be one the biggest dictators of your results. One of our faults in modern society is we often segregate foods into categories of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We then use every last drop of our will power not to touch these ‘bad’ foods. It is inevitable that one day, you will have some chocolate or some chips. No-one is going to live the rest of their life on chicken and spinach.
Just think, how will you feel now that you have eaten a ‘bad’ food?
Probably down on yourself.
What do people tend to do when they feel down on themselves?
Eat more ‘bad’ foods
This is how you can go from eating 2 squares of chocolate to eating 2 blocks of chocolate.
The secret is, there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ food. Food is just a tool we have at our disposal to improve our health and our results. If you want to be healthy, base 85% of your diet on whole foods. If you want to drop body fat, it is better to reduce calorically dense foods. If you struggle gaining muscle and weight, then calorically dense foods can be beneficial.
The key thing is that food must be seen in context. This is very different from person to person.
If you have stuck to eating really well for a period of time and experienced good results, then going off your plan for an Easter lunch isn’t going to ruin your results.
The problem is when chocolate and chips become a daily feature of your diet. This can be a problem for your health and body composition.
It is all contextual.
If you, like many of our Doreen personal training clients, eat well and maintain a healthy body fat percentage year round, don’t overthink your Easter lunch or your slice of cake at your friend’s wedding. It’s not going to ruin your health. In the same sense that eating McDonald’s every day and then having a salad once a month isn’t going to help you lose fat and improve your health either.
2) ASSESS, DON’T GUESS
People automatically assume that any weight they gain after having a ‘cheat meal’ must be body fat.
I have some great news for you.
If you have been diligent with your eating for a period of time, overfeeding and having some sugar can actually help reduce your body fat percentage. This is due to an increase in carbohydrate, water and other nutrients being stored away within your muscle cells, causing your lean mass to increase. There will also be an increase in your metabolic rate as this responds heavily to calorie consumption.
To best improve metabolic rate though, you need to increase your eating for at least 3 days.
Our Doreen personal training clients experience this often. They come in expecting a bad result but end up seeing great improvements. This doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want though. If you see results and stick to your plan FIRST, then you will more likely see the benefits of having a cheat meal.
The key is to not always assume the worst. The human body isn’t a mathematical equation where X will always equal Y. There will be times where you do everything right and may not see the result you hoped for. There are also times where you think you will have a bad result that ends up not being the case. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to guess. Have a body fat assessment and see what the numbers actually are.
3) SO YOU HAVE BLOWN OUT – PLAN YOUR COMEBACK
So if your holiday eating has caused some damage, it’s not the end of the world. There are some simple short term things you can do to bring yourself back to baseline.
NUTRITION – One of the easiest things to do after a blowout is to have a couple of days on Low Carb plan. This will help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation quite quickly. These are often two of the main issues after downing extra sugar and food for a period of time. For our Doreen personal training clients, we program a 1-3 week phase into their nutrition and training that is dedicated on improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation. This can be very beneficial during a bulking phase or after having a holiday period and splurging on the sweets.
TRAINING – Use the extra carbohydrate and energy to good use. Yes you may have gained some extra body fat, but there’ll also be an increase in your stored carbohydrates and other nutrients. Use this to your advantage.
You can ramp up your training volume and push yourself a bit harder than normal. HIIT or higher volume strength training can be a great approach.
If there are some inflammatory issues for those who are prone to inflammation or have consumed some inflammatory foods, ramping up your training may not be a good idea. Stick with your regular training and use an Infra-Red Sauna.
SUPPLEMENTATION – This one can be dependant on the person. The key areas to consider with after a splurge are the following:
Detoxification (more due to alcohol consumption)
These are the main things that can be effected from a cheat day or multiple cheat days. The negative effects will only be minor if it has been no more than a week. The longer the spurge is the worse these can be effected. Training and sweating will help all 4 of these areas when done smartly.
Supplement wise, some of the following can be some good options to consider to help reduce any negative effects:
Magnesium (will help all 4 areas)
Anti-Oxidants (Resveratol, Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, Vitamin E, Vitamin C)
Insulin Sensitisers (Chromium, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Berberine, CoQ10)
Anti-Inflammatories (High EPA Fish Oil, Curcumin, Berberine)
I personally wouldn’t recommend buying supplements purely for a holiday binge. Although, if you do have them already then you can utilise them to help make improvements.
To summarise, there are 3 main points to consider when faced with a holiday or social event and the potential effects afterwards:
1) Food is not evil. If you are lean and healthy, a slice of cake isn’t going to make you fat.
If you have a high level of body fat, cake isn’t going to make it any better.
Understand your relationship with food rather than avoid it.
2) Don’t just assume you’ve gained fat. Get your body fat checked first.
You may be causing yourself extra stress and psychological pain for no reason.
3) If you have caused some damage, have a plan of attack. Short term overeating will only cause very minor effects, if any.
It’s nothing to stress about but you can make improvements.
You can ramp up your training, go Low Carb for a couple of days and use particular nutrients to help re-set the body back to normal.
No-body will be 100% compliant with their nutrition plan. There’ll be times when you over eat or eat foods not on your plan. It’s a part of life. We see this with every one of our Doreen personal training clients. Long term, it’s not going to ruin your results so enjoy the holidays and social events as long as you deserve it.