Will one bad meal ruin my diet?
It is normal to slip up with your tasks every now and then, and it is only human to let things get on top of us from time to time, and the first thing to get neglected when we are in a real fuss is usually our nutrition. This is totally understandable, and nothing to beat yourself up about as it could be a whole host of factors and pressures that have caused this slip up with such complicated and busy lives these days. Arguably, not neglecting your partner, family, work or social lives first and foremost is more advisable to your quality of life, but I am no life coach – just a meathead with a laptop.
We often get questioned on how to account for a bad day in the week, usually whilst dropping fat, in order to prevent undoing progress and all one’s hard work. The vast majority of the time it is a case of not overthinking a minor slip up in isolation. You are the sum of what you consistently do, and if you have been hitting your fat loss calories regularly – which must be in a deficit to actually work successfully – then you will keep progressing towards your goals regardless of the McDonald’s breakfast and Curly Wurly you wolfed down and refused to admit consuming to my fitness pal! This is because you are in a deficit for the week, irrespective of exceeding your caloric target for one of these days.
However, sometimes we will go to town on a pizza (or two, with sides), or never surrender at an open bar (stupid) or at an all you can eat buffet (valiant). In this situation some post-event accounting of calories may be necessary, but again this will rely on how serious you are about reaching a certain body fat percentage and how regularly this kind of slip up actually occurs.
For those of you who have jobs where you entertain clients and such, making you more vulnerable to common random spikes in calories, have a read of the below articles:
I just ate a tub of Ben and Jerry’s *weeps internally* what can I do to prevent me from gaining fat?!
As mentioned previously, one slip up in isolation will not be detrimental to your progress, and neither will the type of food you consumed (separate to it being more calorie dense than normal in some cases). Also, use this influx in energy as motivation to train harder and look at the positives – you definitely don’t want another tub now do you(?), you monster.
If you have been following a specific amount of calories selected to enable you to lose weight, then going overboard 1/7 days in the week will not take you into a caloric surplus for the week. This is unless you were in a miniscule deficit (and had a big day of deliciousness), which wouldn’t have had much efficacy in relation to your fat loss goals anyway.
From experience, when I have my famous ice cream sandwiches (Sainsbury’s cookies with an ice cream filling), they tend to be unplanned, and then prepared and eaten in the evening. To account for something like this you can simply:
- Not have your last meal(s) of the day
- Reduce calories (by lowering carbs and fats) in the following meals
- Reduce calories (by lowering carbs and fats) in breakfast and meal 2 the following day
- Not have breakfast the following day
To those of you worried about protein synthesis (muscle building/recovery), feel free to have some BCAAs if you’re concerned about this meal being lower in protein or going catabolic because you missed breakfast. However, this is in isolation and your mini-fast is nothing to get pent up about. Lots of people do this every single day; city workers, intermittent fasters, those who simply feel sick so don’t eat in the morning, etc.
To those of you worried that they will pass out the next day by skipping breakfast – you most probably won’t as long as you stay hydrated, maybe have a coffee or green tea to perk you up and listen to your body. This is of course separate to people who have specific illnesses and diseases related to blood sugar and such. You can also move meal 2 or lunch slightly earlier here should you genuinely start to lag around mid-morning.
Reducing calories by lowering carbs and fats is better to do further from your workout, so if you train in the morning consider reducing carbs and fats in the meals furthest from your training session. This is done as not to affect your performance or prevent achieving maximal protein synthesis (building/recovery) associated with ingestion of protein and carbs post workout. Again though, this is down to personal preference, so if you (are a morning trainer and) wish to have some more bulk in your dinner simply ensure somewhere in your day you have reduced calories feasibly.
If you are using our Bikini or Cutting Guides designed for fat loss, then a slip up shouldn’t be an issue. You should still be in a deficit for the week, and will still likely progress towards your goals regardless of your moment of madness. We detail how to incorporate flexible dieting methods into our guides, allowing you to eat for both enjoyment, your body goals and for your health. This will help you learn to include foods you crave within your daily diet, reducing the urge to stuff your face with them every 7-10 days (and feel guilty about doing so afterwards).
Check this article out comparing flexible dieting, clean eating and IIFYM.
If you have any questions, thoughts or comments drop us a tweet to @LDN_Muscle and @MB_LDNM
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