You ate too much. Way too much.
“That cheesecake looks. so. good… just… just a little morsel.. to see if it tastes good. hmm. oh, it does taste good. I guess a slice won’t hurt… here it goes down. down into my belly…
Oops. I just ate the whole thing!”
…We’ve all been there.
The ability to recover quickly after a binge is absolutely essential to success in building and maintaining a healthy body (and mind). And once you realize that an occasional binge isn’t the end of the world, you can even use the extra energy to your advantage.
Using these strategies, I limited weight gain to just 2 pounds after (…accidentally) eating like a pig for a 7-day cruise with luxurious desserts that often followed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was easily downing 4000-5000 calories a day for a week straight. But the 2 pounds I gained were gone in a day. And just one week after I stepped off the boat, we took this picture:
How? I used the excess energy (carbs, mostly) to refill my glycogen stores and fuel some absolutely killer workouts.
But – more importantly, I went back to my normal healthy eating plan the second I stepped off the boat. And after a full week of binging on desserts, I was glad to have a salad-fest when I returned home. Kale never tasted so swell.
And before you say, “But Abel has perfect genetics and that’s why he can get away with eating like a pig!” remember that I was fat, sick, and broken in my early 20′s. My before picture below is what a calorie-restricted, low-fat, veggie heavy diet combined with 20-30 miles of running a week looks like…
I like my after picture better. But, more importantly, my health has improved more than any of my (ex) doctors would have believed. I feel better, and that’s why I eat and live this way.
Important note: don’t let any of this encourage binging. As Spider Man’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” These techniques should not be habits but strategic emergency measures for mitigating the negative effects a temporary divergence.
4 Tips to Bounce Back After a Binge
Firstly, understand that overeating every now and again can actually upregulate certain hormones (like leptin) that keep your metabolism working properly, especially if you’ve been restricting your food intake.
Secondly, ditch the guilt. Reflect on why it happened, enjoy the moment, accept it as a temporary divergence, and move on. No one will remember or care that you ate a cupcake. You can’t change the past, but you can influence your future. Here’s how:
- Manage your false hunger: During the 24 hours following a binge, your blood sugar will fluctuate wildly. This will cause false hunger and a powerful desire to eat more sugar and/or carbs. Don’t. Sip on some black coffee. Go for a walk. Do meaningful work. Just keep yourself busy and forget about food.
- Fast: If fasting is in your wheelhouse, do it. And it’s also a super effective way to negate any extra caloric effects from the overeating as well as shed the extra water weight (and bloating) that accompanies a carb-fest. It doesn’t need to be an extended fast, either – a skipped meal or compressed eating window might just do the trick.
- Engage in high-intensity exercise: Get out to a field or track and do some wind sprints. Hop in the weight room and lift like a maniac. Jump into a vigorous game of pickup basketball. Do anything to get your heart rate up and have fun. You’ll have a ton of energy to put in a solid workout. Use all that glycogen to your advantage!
- Resume normal eating habits: This is the fastest way to get back to a ‘happy place’ and leave the binge in the rearview. Don’t sweat it. Just move on. And if inspecting yourself in the mirror causes issues, don’t look in the mirror. It’s simple. As long as your long-term habits are dialed-in, you’ll be back in action in no time.
You Don’t Have to be Perfect
So if you drop the ball and polish off a slice of your boss’ birthday cake, it is fine and even expected from time to time. We’re all human.
That said, if you’re not consistently sticking to healthy habits, make sure you aren’t making excuses. Genetics are not an excuse. The past is not an excuse. Your present condition is not an excuse. You can either make excuses or get results, but you can’t do both.
If you indulge regularly, it’s not really indulging anymore – it’s just poor decision-making and a lack of commitment to success. Make great decisions the majority of the time and you’ll be able to afford the occasional hiccup.
Being lean isn’t about being 100% perfect all of the time. It’s not what you eat from meal-to-meal. It’s how you live your life. Once you know how to avoid binges but handle (as well as enjoy) indulgences when they occur, you can be lean, healthy, and happy. Never give up!
So what do you guys do when you “accidentally” eat a slice of cheesecake?