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Muscle for life

How to Stop Binge Eating (Even If You Love Food)

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How to Stop Binge Eating (Even If You Love Food)

Nothing kills dreams of being lean more effectively than bingeing. If you want to learn why and how to stop binge eating once and for all, read on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pop quiz: which days of the week are most fattening?

Yes, you read the question correctly. Which days of the week are most associated with weight gain?

Don’t overthink it. Listen to your gut here (it should know!).

If you go with your intuition, your answer is probably “the weekends.” And you’d be right. Research shows that most people maintain a steady weight throughout the week and gain weight on the weekends.

How does that work, you ask?

Well, what happens to the diets of most people that have trouble with their weight come Friday night? I’ll tell you what happens: mayhem.

A heavy restaurant dinner with friends is washed down with cocktails and wine and followed by movie theater musts: a vat of popcorn swimming in butter and a silo of soda. Saturday morning is rung in with a skyscraper of syrup-laden pancakes, the day is supplemented with a continuous supply of snack foods, and there’s a good chance that the evening will involve a couple thousand more calories of gluttony. Sunday has its traditions as well: a pile of eggs, bacon, and sausage served with a pitcher of OJ, a stacked sandwich for lunch, and a barbecue or family buffet to wind down and prepare for the return to Monday normalcy.

The problem with this all-too-common ritual of weekly binge eating is the sheer amount of body fat you can gain in just a few days of overeating. Depending on your genetics and activity level, a couple moderate bouts of bingeing can easily “undo” the fat loss of a whole week of proper dieting.

I’ve worked with thousands of people and, hands down, the biggest mistake made by those baffled by their inability to lose weight is binge eating. 

The bottom line is nothing will stop your fat loss dead in its tracks faster than binge eating, and especially bingeing on fatty foods and alcohol (a perfect storm for gaining body fat).

If you want to not only get lean but stay lean, you simply can’t afford to struggle with binge eating. Sure, you can eat foods you love and generally enjoy your diet, but you can’t regularly live out your bacchanalian fantasies and have a physique of the gods.

In this article we’re going to talk a bit about why some people struggle with binge eating and a handful of simple, practical strategies you can employ to prevent and beat the urges.

To Binge is Human

We humans are hardwired to love the taste of fat, salt, and sugar.

Calorie-dense, fatty foods gave our ancient ancestors the energy reserves needed to survive food shortages and famines. Salt increases water retention, which helped us avoid dehydration. Our sweet tooth lead us to sugary berries that were likely edible and away from sour, bitter ones were likely poisonous.

We’re also hardwired to desire a variety of foods because the more types we ate, the more likely we were to get all the essential vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy.

Our natural preferences for these flavors and variety in our diets were once valuable tools for staying alive. They steered us toward the foods that would best meet our energy and nutritional needs.

Alas, the rapid changes in lifestyle and food availability have turned these instincts against us. We’re more sedentary than ever before. Everywhere we go we see food or advertisements for food. We no longer stalk the plains for dinner—we roam the aisles of the local supermarket, faced with an almost endless variety of high-calorie indulgences.

Unfortunately, our internal “appetite regulation machinery” just hasn’t learned how to deal with the excesses of modern living. And this is why we can’t count on our instincts alone to main a healthy body weight—it requires conscious effort.

The good news, however, is that food intake isn’t that hard to control. It doesn’t require a nutrition degree or extraordinary genetics or willpower or anything other than a basic understanding of the physiology and psychology of eating and weight gain and loss and a structured approach to working with our inborn programming, not against it.

How to (Occasionally) Binge Your Way to (Permanent) Fatness

How do you think the average person goes about gaining 30 pounds of fat?

Do you think they slightly overeat every day and accumulate extra fat a slow, linear fashion, week in and week out? Or do you think they expand by alternating between imbalanced periods of gluttonous overfeeding and repentant underfeeding?

If you guessed the latter, research agrees: people tend to gain the most weight through weekend and holiday bingeing. Those with weight issues fail to compensate for their caloric excesses by subsequently reducing intake until the “damage” has been undone.

The average overweight person tries to “eat clean” throughout the week, maintaining a state of relatively neutral energy balance, which means no change in weight or body composition. The weekend comes and, as a reward for “being good” throughout the week, all dietary whims are indulged. Two days of excessive calorie intake adds, let’s say, 0.5 pounds of fat, and this new, fatter weight is maintained throughout the week, and another 0.5 pounds is added the next weekend, and so forth.

This fattening routine is maintained throughout the year and accelerates during the holidays. And voila, you’ve now gained 20 to 30 pounds of fat in a  year despite “eating right” for 70% of it.

This is why many people fail to lose weight with forms of calorie counting: they maintain a proper calorie deficit throughout the week and lose fat, but then gain it all back on their weekend “cheat days.”

I see it all the time. In fact, when people first come to me wondering why their weight is stuck despite “sticking to their meal plans,” the first thing I ask is what their weekends look like, and more often than not, that’s as far as we need to dig.

The bottom line is this: if you have a problem with binge eating, you’ll probably never get as lean you’d like to be, and you definitely won’t be able to maintain it for any period of time.

That said, I do have good news for the fellow gourmands out there…there is a way to “binge” regularly without getting fat…

When a Binge Isn’t a Binge

Most of the mainstream chatter about weight gain and loss revolves around the types of foods eaten and their purported effects on  body weight and composition.

Demagogue…er…”expert” A tries to convince you that foods W and X are fattening while Y and Z are slimming while “expert” B tries to convince you that A has it all wrong and that his diet is the One True Way to rippling abs, radiant health, and everlasting longevity.

The whole lot of this type of nutritional advice is missing the forest for the trees.

When it comes to weight gain and loss, what you eat isn’t nearly as important as how much.

You see, foods don’t have any special properties that make them better or worse for weight loss. What they do have, however, are varying amounts of potential energy as measured in calories, and varying types of macronutrient profiles.

These two factors–the calories contained in foods and how those calories break down into protein, carbohydrate, and fat–are what make certain foods more suitable for losing weight than others. 

Notice I said more suitable, and not “best.” And that’s because if you know how to regulate and balance your food intake properly, you can eat just about anything and lose weight.

Don’t believe me?

Well, Professor Mark Haub lost 27 pounds on a diet of protein shakes, Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, and Little Debbie snacks, and you could do exactly the same if you wanted to (not that you should though–more on this in a second).

Professor Haub’s “shocking” experiment worked because it was based on the scientific principles of energy balance, which are the basis on which our metabolism operates.

In case you’re not familiar with energy balance, think of it like your body’s energy checking account. A negative balance is a situation where your body is burning more energy than you’re feeding it (it’s in the red as far as energy goes). A positive balance, on the other hand, is a situation where your body is burning less energy than you’re feeding it (it’s in the black).

A negative energy balance results in a reduction of total fat mass because your body has to get the additional energy it needs from somewhere, and body fat is one of the primary sources of this energy. A positive energy balance results in an increase in total fat mass as your body is programmed to store a portion of the excess energy you feed it as body fat.

Talk of calories and energy balance is unpopular these days as people don’t want to bother with counting calories to lose weight, but a century of metabolic research shows us that these are the facts, whether we like them or not.

If you consistently feed your body less energy than it burns, you’ll lose weight. If you do the opposite–consistently feed it more–you’ll gain weight.  

Weight loss does NOT require you to only eat certain types of food, avoid other types, combine types in various ways, or any other quackery. It only requires that you regularly feed your body less energy than it burns.

Now, what does all that have to do with binge eating?

Well, most people think of bingeing as excessive indulgence in junk foods like candy, french fries, and desserts, but fail to realize that excessive calories of any kind are the real problem, not the foods eaten.

You would probably agree that a couple thousand calories of Twizzlers, popcorn, and soda qualifies as a binge, but what about a couple thousand calories of butter, sweet potato, and whole grains?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you would probably expect to gain weight from the former type of binge but not the latter, right?

I run into this all the time with people I work with. They don’t realize that their weekly “clean calorie” binges can be just as counter-productive for weight loss as a couple pints of ice cream.

Another important aspect of food intake that people don’t realize is bingeing isn’t an absolute—it’s relative to your total daily calorie intake.

Consider this: my dinner often contains somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 calories and includes some sort of homemade dessert (I’m really into baked oatmeal dishes these days). Yeah, that’s about as many calories as most people eat in an entire day in one meal, and as you can imagine, it’s a lot of food. If you saw it you’d probably call it a binge.

And it would be if it weren’t for one simple fact: that’s about 80% of my calories for the entire day. I will eat light all day (just protein and veggies, mainly), “saving” all those calories I burn every day (3,000, give or take) for a disproportionately large dinner.

Thus, despite the huge 7 PM feast that often includes “fattening” foods like pasta, bread, dairy and…gasp…sugar…I end the day in a state of neutral energy balance and nothing changes in my weight or body composition. Quite literally, what might be a fattening binge for you is just another dinner for me.

If that sounds impossible or ridiculous to you, here’s 5 months of visual evidence:

As you can see, not much has changed in the last 5 months of my regular, controlled “bingeing,” and nothing will change in the next 5 if I feel like continuing my routine.

(And in case you’re wondering, I don’t do this for any special reason other than I like to cook and going into dinner with 2,000+ calories to “spare” allows for a wide variety of meals.)

Now, this would all fall apart if I didn’t maintain a neutral energy balance.

That is, if I came into dinner having already eaten 2,000 calories throughout the day and then ate another 2,500 calories…no matter how “clean” those calories were…I would get fatter. Every day. Without fail.

The key takeaways of this section of the article are…

Bingeing on “clean” calories prevents weight loss just as effectively as bingeing on “dirty” calories.

Eating an excessive amount of food doesn’t necessarily make you fat—placing your body in an excessively large calorie surplus does.

How to Stop Binge Eating

It’s no surprise that a common and powerful trigger of binge eating is restrictive dieting wherein you severely limit your food choices.

This type of diet is, in the short term, a viable method of weight loss and/or weight maintenance because you just get sick of eating the same foods every day, making it hard to overeat. This is hardly a sustainable lifestyle, though. If you’re like, well, just about everyone, the more you abstain from eating foods you like, the more you desire them. You can only say “no” for so long and if you’re the prone to bingeing, things can get pretty ugly when you finally give in.

Fortunately, there’s a better way of going about it. Instead of confining yourself to a short list of “diet-friendly” foods, you can regularly eat a long list of all the foods you like and regulate the amounts you eat instead. This is a powerful way to control bingeing.

If you never feel deprived of foods you like, even sugary treats, you’re less likely to develop and uncontrollable desire to binge on them. It takes a lot less willpower to put the pint of ice cream away when you know you can eat a couple hundred calories’ worth of it every day and still achieve your health and fitness goals.

Flexible dieting,” as it’s known, is an easy, effective way to control your cravings and reduce bingeing. While a diet that allows you eat a wide variety of foods may sound great, it actually presents many people with a new problem: it can increase the likelihood of overeating.

You see, many people have a lot of trouble sticking to eating just small or moderate amounts of certain foods. They can’t just have a few squares of chocolate for dessert—once they’ve had their first bite, only the whole bar will suffice. And sometimes a whole bar can trigger a binge.

Other people are more passive in their overeating. They eat a couple more tablespoons of peanut better than what’s in their meal plans. They use a bit more oil on their salads and take a couple extra bites of mashed potato at dinner. These calories add up and, again, it doesn’t take much to tip the scales too far in the wrong direction.

Others still fall victim to their love of restaurants and eat out several times per week, which is a dietary nightmare because you simply never know many many calories you’re actually eating. There are just too many “hidden” calories in restaurant foods in the form of added butter, oil, cream, sugar, and other ingredients that make food delicious but calorie dense.

So, in this section of the article I want to share with you several simple strategies you can use to not only keep yourself from bingeing but from passively overeating as well.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The more you have food around you, the more you’re likely to eat. The reason is simple:

The more people see foods, the more they think about them, and the more they think about them, the more likely they are to eat them more frequently than they normally would. 

If every time you feel the slightest hunger something quick and tasty is just a hop and skip away, it’s going to take serious willpower to avoid overeating. And when you have to say no 10 times an hour to all your favorite goodies, eventually you say yes. And yes. And yes…

The solution is simple: stop boobytrapping your environment with foods you have trouble resisting.

Don’t surround yourself with food and you’ll avoid this pitfall.

Don’t fill your pantry, cupboards, and drawers to the brim with your favorite snacks and treats. Don’t fill your fridge with caloric beverages. Don’t have candy lying around the office.

How Many Calories Is That Hamburger in the Window?

Us humans are full of psychological quirks, and one that works against our waistlines is our tendency to underestimate sizes and amounts as things get bigger.

Research shows that both normal and overweight people predictably underestimate the calorie content of meals with mathematical predictability.

Studies also show that the more we eat, the less accurate we get in our estimations. Eat a 300-calorie hamburger meal and you’re likely to underestimate its calories by 10%, and eat a 900-calorie hamburger feast and, if you’re like most people, you’ll underestimate it by a whopping 40%.

The implications of this are obvious, and explain why so many overweight people believe they can’t lose weight despite “not eating a lot.”

I run into this all the time with people that write to me for help. They come to me believing their “metabolisms are broken” or that calorie counting doesn’t work or that they’re just genetically fated to be fat. And they’re relieved and thrilled to learn that they were just eating too much and moving too little, and that they can lose fat with ease once they properly calculate their total daily energy expenditure and plan and track their food intake accordingly.

If you want to be able to “eat by instinct” and still maintain a lean physique, you must familiarize yourself with the calorie content and macro nutritional breakdown of the foods you like to eat. This will prevent you from dramatically underestimating intake.

How to Feel Full on Fewer Calories

Scientists don’t really know what makes us feel full. How much we chew, taste, swallow, think about the food, and eat for all play a role.

Here’s what we do know, though:

We tend to eat the same amount, or volume, of food every day and the absolute amount of food eaten is what makes us feel full, not the calories contained in it.

You see, if someone is used to eating a large, half-pound hamburger and eats a smaller quarter-pounder, he’ll probably still feel hungry. If he makes the smaller burger larger by adding some lettuce, tomato, and onion and not squishing it down, however, he’ll find the meal just as filling as the huge burger despite having hundreds of fewer calories.

It’s the volume our stomachs want, not the calories.

Research shows that you could take your normal volume of food intake and double its calorie content and you’d have no trouble finishing it all. And on the flip side, so long as you preserve the volume, you could halve the calories and still feel full after each meal.

If you’re looking to lose weight, stay away from low-volume, high-calorie foods like many processed, pre-packaged foods and snack as well as many high-fat foods, including nutritious ones like oils, cheese, fatty meats, etc.

Instead, fill your meal plans with high-volume, low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and meats, etc.

If you’re trying to gain weight and are struggling to hit your daily numbers, flip that advice and eat more low-volume, high-calorie foods and less of the others.

Don’t Snack While Watching TV

Fact: the more people watch TV, the more likely they are to overeat and be overweight.

When you’re watching TV, you’re not paying attention to how much you’re eating and before you know it, the whole bag of chips or pint of ice cream is gone…despite not even being hungry. In fact, anything that takes your attention off the food makes you more likely to overeat.

If you’re going to eat while watching TV, you’re going to want to regulate your intake by bringing a pre-ordained amount to the couch and eating just it and nothing more.

Prepare and Serve Meals Intelligently

If you have trouble with overeating, I bet you do one or more of the following things:

  1. You buy bigger packages of food to save money or time.
  2. You tend to eat most of what you serve yourself for meals.
  3. You eat from large containers, plates, and bowls and drink from large glasses.
  4. You stop eating and drinking when your plate and glass are empty, not when you’re full.

These four habits typify the average American dining experience (the “fat family” style of eating) and are scientifically proven to subtly increase food intake.

Research shows that people eat 20 to 25% more food from larger packages than small, that they eat about 92% of what they serve themselves, and that serving food on larger platesbowls, and glasses influences people to eat more.

When we bring large packages of food into the kitchen, it feels normal to make and serve more than if the packages were small. If we serve it onto and into large tableware, we’re more likely to serve more to fill the pieces up and then eat everything we dished out.

Setting the table incorrectly sets the stage for overeating. Use small plates, bowls, and glasses, and eat only until you’re no longer hungry, you’ll be less likely to overeat.

Don’t Go Back For Seconds

If you have a habit of eating several helpings of food in a meal or eating directly out of boxes or containers, you’re going to have trouble regulating your food intake.

Research shows these habits simply lead to eating more.

An easy way to prevent overeating is to “preplate” your food with the amount you plan on eating and skipping seconds and thirds.

Similarly, put your foods on a plate or in a bowl before you start eating and you won’t have to remember or guesstimate how much you’ve taken.

Make Tempting Foods Inconvenient

The simplest and probably most effective way to prevent overeating and bingeing is to use the following truism to your advantage:

The harder it is to eat something, the less we eat of it.

People that use chopsticks at a buffet are less likely to be overweight than those using silverware. If people have to go to a separate line to pay for junk food, they buy less of it. If the lid of a checkout ice cream cooler is left open, people are twice as likely to take some than when it’s closed.

We can use our inherent dislike of effort to our dietary advantage by making our temptations less convenient. Stick the cookies in the back of the top cupboard, hide the foiled leftovers in the back of the fridge, keep the ice cream in the garage freezer, eat snacks at a table and on a plate, etc.

Watch Out When You Eat Out

Social events involving food are the bane of many dieters.

Research shows that, on average, people that eat with one other person eat 35% more calories than they otherwise would. Increase the party to 4 and calorie intake increasingly accordingly, to about 75% on average. Make it a grand social affair with a group of 7 or more people and they’ll eat nearly twice as many calories as they would alone.

Scientists have identified several reasons for this, including our tendency to match our eating speed and total food intake to the group average and spending more time at the table with food available for nibbling.

There’s a reason why experienced dieters tend to prefer solitary eating–they know it makes it easier to control food intake.

You don’t have to be a hermit to be lean, though. You just have to be aware of your tendencies when going out to eat and consciously override them.

When I eat out, I decide on exactly what I’m going to eat and I don’t let the amount and speed of other people’s eating influence mine.

The Bottom Line on Binge Eating and Overeating

You now know more about binge eating than 99% of the population and you now have the power to keep it from ruining your efforts to get fit.

If you apply the strategies given in this article, you can beat the binge problem once and for all without having to adopt a life of dietary asceticism.

So long as you understand and use the laws of energy balance to your advantage and take simple precautions to prevent passive overeating, you can regularly enjoy all the foods you like without paying the price of regular weight gain.

 

What are your thoughts on binge eating? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Eric Mermod

    Hey Mike! First time I comment in a long time of knowledge accumulated through reading all your articles, thank you very much for that ! I was just wondering if this way of eating during the day that you have now was recent, because as far as I remembered, I always thought you prefered the BB way of numerous meals every hours throughout the day because it got you to eat more often and feel more satiated. I’ve been fasting and eating little during the day for over a year now and I’ve made tremendous gains with it (not because fasting is “magic” or anything, but because it suits my lifestyle so much better and allows me better control over what I eat). I remember last year I thought when I read BLS that I found it too bad that you were more pushing towards eating 5-6 times a day (maybe because that’s been working well for you) than you were explaining the whole “doesn’t matter when, just how much” approach. Did you write more about that in the second edition? I’m certainly gonna have my hands on it anyway haha 🙂

    Thanks again for every thing, you’re the best.
    Eric

    • Thanks Eric! I really appreciate it. 🙂

      I’m not sure which style of eating I prefer more at this point. I train first thing in the morning so I don’t get to benefit from having a bunch of food in me and I don’t get hungry throughout the day regardless of how little I eat so I can save calories easily. Many people can’t though–they get too hungry.

      I still recommend people start with 4-6 smaller meals per day but explain that it can be modified.

      I also still recommend pre- and post-workout nutrition.

      • Poppy

        Hmm, once you are in the shape you are in you can play about with it I guess and see how many different ways work to maintain that shape. Interesting article.

        • Yup. Thanks. 🙂

          • boss155100

            i do not know whether or not you are going to reply to a comment within an article that has been posted a little over than a year ago as i can see.. and to be honest i don’t really expect you to …but in case YOU SEE this comment …get this
            I really , really do admire what you do… you determination to be who you are and your willinges to help people achieve something they never thought possible and also the fact that you have an amazing physique..But i do not appreciate how you treat overeating as something simple and outlining its solution as something you can work on numbers and basic science…which is true and you are absolutelly right by the way… if you follow this guidelines its only a matter of time before you either get to a desired body fat precentage… or build as much muscle as you want…However my friend…the reason some of us overeat its not because we cant stop ourselves…not because we cant ressist that idiotic donut… not because we eat 50 calories a day hoping to ”Burn fat” and starving to do so… the reason we overeat is because we are HUNGRY!!! you claim to be 80/20% on your diet… to leave room for something you want so that you would not crave it…And here i come and say… i do not crave Anything… i am just very very hungry…i can only lose fat eating 1200 calories a day.. and only a pound a week if i addhere to that…TELL ME …what kind of room could i make when the only way for me to lose fat is through this idiotically small calorie limit??you say carbs are not the enemy… but if i eat 300 hundred calories of carbs that NEVER make me satisfied and always leaving me unbelievably hungry how can i not overeat??if for me to get enough proteing means i have to eat more than 50% of my calories of it because if dont i cant hit the sufficient number ho can i not overeat??If i have to even count my vegetables and carefull not to exceed my calic deficit limit tell me …HOW THE FUCK CAN I NOT OVEREAT??i try to leave only a day of the week so that i can finally eat because i am starving the rest of the week… of course not every week is perfect… i overeat 1-4 times some weeks…But tell me…How YOU would cope with such a idiotically slow metabolism?? you say you eat 3000 thousand calories just to maintain….THATS A BINGE DAY FOR ME…you say that you cut at 2200 calories….that an amazing filling food day for me… my maintainance is around 1500 calories… and guess what …i am never satisfied at this number of calories… i try to get my calories through filling sources such as protein and fat… because carbs only give calories and litterally zero saitety either complex or simple ones…and what i have to get through just so that i lose my Ugly belly is to eat 1000 calories a day …Now that i gave you this information…tell me ..HOW THE FUCK CAN I NOT OVEREAT AT LEAST A DAY A WEEK?? i wish i could speak to you in person so that you could see the tears and desperation in my eyes..
            My stats… 136 pounds male …height 5ft,5inch
            Take care

          • Hey man!

            This is REALLY hard to read. Can you summarize it in a few questions? I’ll be happy to help!

          • boss155100

            my metabolic limit does not let me eat much.. so i eat mostly protein and veggies so i can feel full but after a week or so i am starving..i lose fat yes but at what expense???all this lead me to overeating!! There!

          • Hey, set your macro targets here:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/
            https://legionathletics.com/how-to-calculate-body-fat/

            Also, if you increase your physical activity, that raises your TDEE, and thus increases the amount of food you can eat while on a cut.

          • boss155100

            macros imply that i burn 1,6k calories a day… tell me how can i not binge if am hungry all the time…and even if i excersize my TDEE will increase at max only like a 100 calories..than a medium apple…if i could eat 3000 thousand calories a day then i would have the urge to binge..

          • Miz Eloise

            hey im no expert but i think i know what youre saying. i ised to get super hungry too to the point my hands feel cold and clammy even just at 25 percent deficit. i even had head aches too.

            fiber helps. i take 40 g from grains.
            sleeping too and water.
            my holy grail food soirce is barley. maybe that will help?

          • boss155100

            still no answer ..i mean you save 2,5k calories for dinner…my metabolism maintains at 1,5k calories a day..anything more i gain fat…and i have ONE meal a day consisting of all this calories…still hungry …result= overeating and getting fat… yeah sucks to be me …

          • Have you seen this?
            http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

            Or perhaps you need a reverse diet to “reset” your metabolism?
            http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

            Spreading out your meals throughout a day helps as well.

          • Miz Eloise

            fiber. end of story 🙂

    • Mark

      i found the eat 6 small meals a day stuff was a disaster for over-eating. Constantly eating and thinking about food.

  • brandon

    ” a couple moderate bouts of bingeing can easily “undo” the fat loss of a whole week of proper dieting.” Story of my life…lol

  • Royston

    Hear me out on this one… What if I binge on Saturday and fast on Sunday?

    • Haha depends how big your Sat binge is.

    • Poppy

      Other way round might work better for me. I might try that one week.

  • Guest

    Hey mike I already buy bls kindle edition..so is der anyway to get new edition on Kindle..

    • Todd

      If you go into your Amazon account you can find BLS in your purchase history. There will be a link to update the book to the new addition without charge.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:

    http://www.muscleforlife.com/signup/

    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

    • AnnieP

      Dear Mike,

      An excellent article. What are your thoughts about difficulty losing weight for menopausal women? I am 54 and can’t work out if I am stuck because of all the things you describe – eating too much healthy food being the number one possibility – or if it is, in part, biology. Also, how many calories do you recommend a woman eat on a daily basis if she is of average height (5ft 6), currently weighs 12 stone/ 165 pounds and goes for a stroll once a day and beyond that is sedentary? Do you favour a number of small meals or do you consider it to be the daily calorie intake that counts… as is the case with you?

      Thank you!

      Annie

  • Jason

    Interesting article – thanks! I’ve definitely noticed the tendency to overdo it on the weekend. Those are usually my days off from the gym too which doubles the trouble. I really liked your advice about enjoying your big dinner too. One thing that has helped me calorie counting lately is to cut down on the snacking through the day and eat bigger meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It seems to make those meals a lot more satisfying. Thanks again!

  • Jennifer

    Yes, yes, a hundred times yes! “It’s the volume our stomachs want, not the calories.” It’s so nice to hear someone validate this for me. I’ve known for a while that it’s the volume of food that i crave during binges–i love that full feeling. Bingeing on a huge salad actually satisfies me as much as a small bag of chips. My issue is taking the time to actually prepare food. I am a slave to convenience. Making progress though!!

  • Todd

    Really terrific article! Once I started paying attention to my weekly calories I realized how much my “cheat” meals were adding up and killing my deficit.

  • Sue Staltari

    I think I like the idea of saving 80% or a bit less calories for last meal of day.

    • It’s nice if you don’t get hungry throughout the day and like eating huge meals, haha.

  • Ravenzfire

    Hey Mike, great article! In BLS you talk about a re-feed day where you double your daily carb intake (you don’t mention it in the book but I assume your fat and protein intake should stay the same) I would assume that wouldn’t fall under “binge eating”? I know when I’ve done it it can certainly feel that way trying to double my carbs!

  • Mamaeben

    I wish I was only binging at weekends. At the moment I binge all day everyday. I’m a skinny guys dream!!!! I only have to look at food and I gain weight lol.

  • Mark

    i think you have to work out your own system. Find out what kind of eater you are are come up with tricks to stop it.

    I can go go many hours without easting…seems no problem. But then when i eat i can’t stop sometimes.

    So i did this:

    No breakfast….doesn’t seem to bother me at all.

    Small lunch (high protein) about 1-2pm.

    Big dinner try to eat after 6pm..the later the better.

    If really hungry small snack about 10pm…try to do without

    NO snacks at all during the day…not thing. I found it was best to simply not even tempt my-self.

    Only have a few beers on a Saturday night. NOT one midweek, except for Sat nights (even now i find my-self going a couple of weeks o drinking)
    i have lost about 8kg (fat) past year.

    It’s pretty structured but it works for me. I kind of expected to lose a bit more weight though and i am guessing i am about 14% BF. It doesn’t seem to be dropping anymore.

    Anyone that snacks/drinks each day simply cannot hit their calories for the day. No way. It’s hard to hit 2,500 cal’s a day.

    • Exactly. My situation is unique in that I simply don’t get hungry so I can just do whatever I want. That’s not most people though.

      I like what you’re doing. That’s great.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Valerie

    Hi Mike,

    I have developed a number of eating disorders as the result of over 10 years of yo-yo dieting. For me intuitive eating works better than anything else as far as eliminating restrictive thinking and avoiding overeating goes ( I follow Josie Spinardi’s approach) While I know your workouts are supposed to be flowed by your type of eating I really don’t want to risk my healing process by imposing any type of rules as it may (and probably will) trigger my eating disorders ones again ..just been down that road way too many times…

    Here’s the question though: How can I create an effective workout program for myself considering I need to loose a huge amount of fat (I’d say 70 lbs for sure). I was thinking doing HIIT a few times a week (maybe 3?) and add weightlifting to it..even though I never tried it before

    • You can definitely eat intuitively and do well. Nothing wrong with that. You can do my workouts as well.

      That said, if you need to lose that much fat, I’d HIGHLY recommend you be a bit more structured with your eating and follow a proper meal plan.

      Thoughts?

      • Valerie

        Thank you the reply!

        I am up for developing more structured approach (as too much freedom can be intimidating and confusing at times) BUT I’ve got the fear that it might end up as usual… I’m breaking the rules for some reason..(even if I created them myself) > Feeling disappointed, weak and angry > Binge it …

        Any tips on how to follow some sensible structure (i.e. meal plan) without sabotaging myself?

        Oh and where do I start in making my meal plans? Should I estimate my daily calorie range first?

        Thanks a lot for your help! I really appreciate that! =)

  • Eli

    Thanks for the awesome article!

  • Nic

    Michael I really really could use some advice could you shoot me an email please @ nicigeel@gmail.com

  • Johnny

    Without sounding too much like a sycophant……another great article! Although I follow most of these ideas without really noticing it, the main point I have come away with from this is saving most of your daily maintenence calories for a feast at dinner.
    Great Idea, I can see it helping greatly with the the need to have the occaisional binge.

    • Haha thanks Johnny. Glad you liked it.

      You don’t have to do that. I just like to so I can cook different things for dinner. 🙂

  • Taylor

    Mike, what are your thoughts on how gut health can affect leptin and ghrelin responses? As these appetite regulating hormones tell the brain how to manage appetite, poor gut health can lead to poor appetite control. Just curious on your thoughts? Loved this article and we use flexible dieting for ourselves and people as well as it works great.

    • To be honest I’m not sure. I haven’t explored gut health in depth enough to be certain. Glad to hear you’re doing well!

  • William

    Hi Mike!! Have been following you for a couple of months and so far enjoying your articles a lot and learning a lot of good stuff. Wanted to say that this article is excellent and came just in time to my email today because this is something I am currently struggling with. I have chaged my diet drastically using your advices, changed my workout routine entirely and have actually seen results but I always cheat. Hopefully this article will help me.

    P.S. Started taking Recharge, great supplement and the best tasting one!!

    Keep up the good articles Mike!!!

    • Thanks William! I’m glad to hear it. Let me know how everything goes!

  • Dustin

    Awesome article!! Over the last 6 months Ive found that I my weight lifting sessions are drastically better in a fasted state and with that being said I do a 16/8 fast. Currently I stay between 13%-18% body fat with most of it around my waist for formally being over weight years ago however my upper body is really lean and cut including my upper abs. My problem is how do I get down to losing that last 5-10 around my lower stomach? Also I’ve read that when doing a 16/8 and training fasted it is best to have the first meal of the day the biggest, which I currently do, however that leads to a problem if I eat a large dinner that night as well so I was wondering if the first meal could be small and save those calories for a big dinner? I only ask because right now Im doing huge volume training at a fast temp with cardio (sprints and deadmeal sprints) and I don’t want to sacrifice muscle by waiting to long to eat if that would happen by waiting for dinner.

    Thanks Mike!

  • Lona

    Wow, this is so true for me. I do exactly that and I know it! And – I have a house full of yummy treats. I’ll try to take this advice to heart. It is super discouraging to work out, eat healthy and then ruin it all every weekend! I want to stop doing this so I may have to read this article a few more times. I do have a question though – can you give an example of what you’d eat when you are “saving up” for a fattening dinner? I’m concerned I’ll pig out if I’m overly hungry, that tends to be a trigger for me to overeat.

  • Mer

    Hi Mike,
    I’m just wondering, do you have a good formul for figuring out the daily energy requirement for pregnant women? Thanks 🙂

    • You know I’m not totally sure on what the latest recommendations are but I believe it’s normal TDEE for 1st trimester, TDEE + 300 for second, TDEE + 600 for third, and TDEE + 900 for last few weeks.

      You can find your TDEE here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Run that by your doc too BTW. I’m not positive on it.

      • Mer

        Thanks heaps Mike! A general idea still helps a lot because I feel pressure from family, hearsay, even superstition e.g. During the last trimester is where you should be the most strict with your diet to prevent irreversible post natal weight gain.

        Thanks again and no worries, will ask doc aswell 🙂

        • YW!

          Yeah if you keep a good eye on intake then you don’t have to gain a bunch of fat during the pregnancy. My wife gained a total of about 35 pounds by the end and was back to her pre-pregnancy weight within a few months. She could have gotten back faster if she could have gotten sleep at night (our son wasn’t a great sleeper).

  • BoandTanya Krop
    • Thanks for sharing. Learning to eat by instinct is fine for maintaining general health and fitness but if you want to really focus on building muscle or getting lean, you’re going to have to count/plan/track your calories (and macros).

      • BoandTanya Krop

        I’m not the largest guy on the block (not trying to be). I’m also not a “naturally lean” person, but when competing in my first mens physique contest (placing third) I didn’t count macros or calories. However, that being said, I did have a high degree of awareness as to the quality of my food and a rough idea of how much I was eating. I used intermittent fasting to get lean. I’m sure an argument could be made that the only way to do even better would be to follow a more structured plan. Maybe. I won’t discount it. But I’m living proof that an overweight person can get really lean by eating quality food and exercising smart. Love your posts! Keep up the great work:)

        • Great job man. That rocks. To be fair you were roughly counting macros though. 😉 I do the same thing when I’m traveling and such. I’m not following a structured plan but my experience with planning has taught me the rough numbers of a LOT of foods as well as those to stay away from and so forth.

  • Medprofessor

    Outstanding article! I was never aware of the many variables that lead to overeating. You’ve given us some really great insight into why we gain weight when we think we are dieting and doing all of the right things. Is any of this in your books?

    • Thank you! Glad you liked it. This article in particular is only on the site but I do talk extensively about dieting in general in Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger.

  • Oksana

    Hi Mike. Great article! Also, it would be good to know what is your straregy if the binge does happen? What to eat the next few days, and how much cardio to do? Thanks!

    • Depends how bad it is, haha. If it was an all-out disaster then yeah I would eat my protein the next day and little else, probably. If it wasn’t too bad, and especially if it was mainly carbs, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • xanton

    Let’s say you have a cheat meal once a week, you know what you crave and know exactly what you are gonna eat for that particular meal. The day before you eat out with your friends, it’s a tasty meal you eat but not what you are craving. Will you have to skip your cheat meal or will it lead to binging?

    • Depends on you. Me? No. Not at all. I never binge because I don’t deny myself foods I like and I guess i have a “healthy” relationship with food.

  • Ari

    Does saving most of your calories/carbs for dinner apply when training in the morning as well?

  • Julio

    Great article Mike !! Lots of fat to chew on ha ha !! On a slight side note how much can one over eat on a cheat meal and not mitigate your weekly fat loss ? Thanks Mike

  • Pingback: Stopped Losing Weight? Here's Why (and How to Fix It) | Muscle For Life()

  • Mike, I am only commenting for one thing here. Where can I get some of the food in the main pic of this article!!! GEEEEEZZ that looks good #fattieforlife lol

  • Pingback: The Definitive Guide to Why You're Not Losing Weight | Muscle For Life()

  • Desert Med Fitness

    great article, summary of important information which will help to stop binge eating. Thank you

  • candace

    Hey Mike quick question do you know what the macro breakdown would look for a vegan? I eat A lot of carbs and struggle to fit the protein in! Great article thank you!

    • The macro breakdown is the same! It is definitely harder to keep the carbs down and get enough protein though haha.

      Glad you liked the article! 🙂

      For the protein try tofu, tempeh, seiten and vegan protein powders.

  • Todd Smith

    @michael_matthews:disqus, thank you for directing me to this article. I think it’s the only article I’ve ever bookmarked! I’ve spent thousands on the best Trainer money can buy and although I’ve made great progress, this quote summed up alot; “if you have a problem with binge eating, you’ll probably never get as lean you’d like to be, and you definitely won’t be able to maintain it for any period of time.” I’ve scheduled myself time to read this article nightly and then update you Monday morning. I’m sooo close to a good BF percentage for the first time! Again, thank you sir!

    • YW! Glad you’re liking the article!

      Get back to me when you’re done and LMK what you think! 🙂

  • Suzanne campbell

    I’ve really learned a lot from your podcasts (I listen everyday- many to catch up on). I was a collegiate runner and I’m a competitive swimmer now. Listening to some of the information it appears that I have over trained along with eating way less than I should have. I would like to keep swimming but I am having a hard time balancing the resistance training with my time in the pool. I’ve gained muscle (good) but more fat- which has made me feel very frustrated and discouraged. I’ve ordered your book (super excited). I’m hoping that you would have any good suggestions for me?

  • Patrick

    Mike, in one of your earlier podcasts, you suggest that you personally can’t eat a huge meal- that you like to enjoy 4 or 5 smaller meals, because eating too much in one meal makes you feel like crap. Obviously, in this article, you seem to suggest a new style of eating, jamming nearly 1500-2000 calories for dinner. Now that you’ve sort of experimented with those various styles of eating, what have found that works best?

    • I guess technically all those calories aren’t all at dinner because I eat about 40 g pro and 50 g carb for dinner and then, about an hour or two later, have another 40 to 60 g pro and 250ish g carb (obsessed with these baked oatmeal dishes recently, hah).

      To be honest if I were trying to maximize muscle growth I wouldn’t eat this way. I would have carbs throughout the day. If you’re just looking to maintain your physique though, like me, you have more leeway.

  • Matt

    Hi Mike,

    My BLS workout plan and nutrition is dialled in, and am scheduled to reach the end of my first 8 weeks in August. At that point I have a family vacation for 10 days, which luckily, naturally fits in with the BLS programme and de-load/rest week. However, being realistic, I know that on that vacation, I’m going to enjoy my time with my wife and my kids. I’m going to overeat and I’m going to drink a little more alcohol than usual. I’ll likely be a lot more careful than normal and not go crazy, but it will happen. I am adopting a calorie deficit at the moment as I have plenty of fat to burn, so was wondering what the best preparation is in terms of calorie intake and/or workouts before going on the inevitable calorie hike? Do I reverse diet a little in the 2 weeks before going on vacation to spike metabolism a little? Or do I go into a bigger deficit to ‘bank’ some calories? Do I do more cardio? Or is none of the above going to work?!

    Just curious whether you have any strategies to compensate against this.

    Help and advice always welcome.

    Thanks

    Matt

      • Matt

        Thanks Mike, that’s great. My expectation is to keep to maintenance for the 10 days I’ll be away, so going up to around 2800 cals per day after running a cut at about 2200. Given the sudden 600 calorie shift up, is it worth me reverse dieting, increasing calorie intake by 100 cals each week for 2 weeks before I go so as not to ‘shock’ my metabolism too much?

        Thoughts and help welcomed.

        Thanks
        Matt

        • Cool. I like the plan. You could jump to 2400/day the week before and then 2800/day while on vacation. Should be fine.

          • Matt

            Thanks Mike. Will put that in the schedule and see how it goes.

            All the best
            Matt

          • Sounds good. LMK how it goes.

    • Bushman

      Hi Mike, really enjoying the site! What happens when the sugar addiction kicks in. I guess this is more of a dependency issue then binging problem, even though there is a correlation there.
      Thanks!
      – Brian

  • Bushman

    Hi Mike, really enjoying the site!
    What happens when the sugar addiction kicks in. I guess this is more of a dependency issue then bingeing problem, even though there is a correlation there. But all of the research points to “Eat enough carbs”, but even though I may be completely stuffed, I can always get the cookie or doughnut to throw me off. Any advice for this murky area?

    Thanks!
    – Brian

    • Thanks Brian!

      Sorry but I don’t quite understand the problem. Just eating too many calories? Can you elaborate?

      • Bushman

        Thanks for getting back to me MIke. I’ve thought more about my question, probably outside the scope of this article. Do you have any methods for helping people cope with a sweet tooth so it doesn’t derail a diet and turn into bingeing on junk food after a few days of being on track? I feel my willpower starts high and slowly diminishes after a few days until it’s completely wiped out and I’m on a sugar spree. Thanks a lot for your time!

        • Ah okay.

          Are you trying to completely avoid sugar? Would allotting some daily calories for something sweet work for you?

          • Bushman

            I am trying to avoid it. Currently only eating very little fruit, no processed or added sugars. Once I get a taste, all hell breaks loose. Do you feel it’s feasible to completely stay away from it from someone who is a sugar “addict”? My gut feeling is that if I calculate a small bit into my daily macros, and know my next “fix” is coming at my next lunch, it might be more controllable. Is this what you are thinking? Any guidelines for incorporating it? If it helps, I’m 5’10”, 34 yrs old, 190lbs, fighting a 36″ waist. I currently have my macros on a 40/40/20 split with 2100 calories.

            Thanks a bunch Mike!

          • Oh okay. Well then yeah, you’ve got to stay away.

            Is there something else you might enjoy for a small dessert every day? Something fruit-based that you could make at home?

          • Bushman

            That’s a good idea. I tend to snack on an apple which gets boring after awhile. I’ll try making some sort of dessert that is fruit-based that doesn’t require added sugars.

          • Cool. LMK how it goes!

        • Stewart AshBlean Ashby

          Its basically finding something to take care of the cravings and forefilling your sweet tooth without calories! Try 100g total greek yogurt mixed with 20g chocolate protein powder, 50g blueberries and 10g chopped almonds! OR i used to make a pudding from blended low fat cottage cheese mixed with sugar free jelly (only use as little hot water as you have to to get the crystals to melt!!!), allow to set in fridge – my favourite was lime!!! 😉

  • Nomis Tepot

    Such a great discussion, with real world advice. Everything you said hit home for me, in a big way. Thanks for expressing my thoughts so articulately with evidence, and sharing your knowledge so freely. I’m getting heaps from your website, strong stuff!

    • I’m happy to help. 🙂

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Jodi D

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you SO much for writing this article. I’m going to look up your podcasts and listen to them whenever I have time. I need to admit: I have a problem with binge eating, at night. I am scared to think that it’s because of intermittent fasting. I’m scared because IF is the only way I’ve been able to actually lose body fat. But within the past couple months, I’ve just lost self control and eat until I feel sick. Not every night, but at least a few times per week. I don’t really have a question for you, as of right now, I’m more or less just admitting I have a problem and am trying to fix it. But again, thanks so much for writing this article and making it known that I’m not the only person to have gone through this.

  • Darren

    Hi Mike,
    Really interesting read this and I’m hopeful that I can kick the binge once and for all, my will power is brilliant 5.5-6 days of the week but a couple
    Of pints and some sugary treats then kick me in the teeth. I’m using this along with what I am reading in the BLS book to hopefully get my physique to a look that I am happy with. After training for years I am
    Not at that stage and decided something needed to change. Hopefully these training programs pay off and I can see some real results.
    Thanks for the great read
    Darren

    • Glad you enjoyed it and decided to make a change. 🙂

      Let’s get rolling on the program. I’m excited to see your results!

    • Kerry

      I have a very similar issue. I work in a mild deficit and follow my macros well. I enjoy nutritious foods, but after about a week sugar cravings kick in. Sometimes I can fight it off a little longer but eventually cave in to a pretty severe binge. I’ve tried incorporating sweets in moderation in my regular diet but it doesn’t seem to help. It’s frustrating seeing all my progress go down the drain, but I can’t seem to fix it.

      • I hear you Kerry, and I know how frustrating it can be. Did you read the article?

        • Kerry

          I did read the article and it made a lot of good points. I think for me the most important thing is to set a goal and force myself to recognize the consequences towards that goal if I binge or overeat. From reading BLS and MFL I feel like I have the knowledge of what to do, I just have to motivate myself to follow through. My current goal is to get to 10% body fat, currently about 15%. If I can focus on that goal I hope to stay on track.

      • mmmpork

        I tend to get sweet cravings if I’m not eating enough saturated fat. Usually some whole milk or a tablespoon of butter on something help me in those cases. Also not eating enough carbs can trigger cravings for me, but usually for salty things in my case. Maybe try readjusting your macros? Your body might be trying to tell you something 😉

  • Jenny Hudson

    See here 4 very quick and easy weight loss. http://www.amazingaus.com/whats-the-best-way-to-lose-weight/

  • Great Article! I am trying to lose that proverbial last 5 pounds…like many I suppose. Are there any foods, supplements etc…that can help
    curve hunger? Ones that actually work 😉
    I AM HUNGRY ALL THE TIME.
    In case it matters. I am male, 51 year old. I am a distance
    runner who does some weight training. Currently 7 weeks out from a marathon and
    would like to get rid of 5lbs or so. Less weight to lug over 26 miles the
    better.

  • Kari

    Bummed I can’t get thinner leaner stronger for women on kindle or ibooks….

  • P Mort

    “(And in case you’re wondering, I don’t do this for any special reason other than I like to cook and going into dinner with 2,000+ calories to “spare” allows for a wide variety of meals.)”
    This quote blew my mind. One of my frustrations of cookbooks is all the “(Serves 8 People)” recipes that look amazing but don’t keep long enough for me to store them. This definitely opens up a lot more options, and I too like to cook. Don’t know why I never thought of this before.

  • Maxxie

    I only have 10 pounds to lose, but I’m always having really hard time dealing with my binge that it really affects my cutting progress.

    So if I accidentally overeat on one day, would applying the calorie cycle method work as long as my WEEKLY calorie deficit is on point?

    For example, my TDEE for cutting is 1,000 calories.

    1,000 x 7 = 7,000 calories/week.

    Then I overeat, let’s say 2,500 for 1 day.

    So I would do is 7,000 – 2,500 = 4,500 calories left.

    Then divide for the rest 6 days. It would be 4,500/6 = 750 calories/day for the rest of the week.

    Let me know what you think. 🙂

    Thank you, Mike.

  • mmmpork

    My dad is a doctor and growing up he took the extreme of the low-fat no junk food thing. Any forms of junk food were strictly forbidden in our household and if I was caught eating any of it I was shamed. This led to me binging at lunchtime in school, opting for high calorie items. I’ve always struggled with my weight and as an adult I’ve also had issues with going through periods of restriction versus periods of bingeing on junk foods. Which correlates with me struggling to manage my weight as an adult.

    Learning two things helped me to break that cycle. 1) Research consistently shows that the sort of restriction I experienced as a child leads towards the kind of behavior I was experiencing (ie, it’s not totally my fault and I’m not a bad person if I eat junk food) – http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/2014/04/got-a-food-obsessed-kid-research-warns-dont-restrict-them/ and 2) it doesn’t matter what you eat, it’s how much.

    When I started restricting calories to lose weight, I started measuring everything and paying attention to serving sizes reported in the nutritional info on packaged foods. A serving of ice cream is 1/2 cup and typically around 250 calories. I’ve found that I’m happy with 1/4 cup and that’s only 125 calories! I love ice cream and it’s one of the foods I’m most likely to binge on.

  • Stephanie Guerrero

    Hello,
    My issue is all I want are sweets and I tend to go for just fruit. I realize yes, I do great during the week but its on the 1 day of the weekend when I go overboard. I tend to eat too much fruit in one sitting, and you make a good point. My mindset is I deserve it, but I feel that is what is causing my weight gain and definitely not helping with feeling sick-full afterwards. Any suggestions? Or is it all just a mental thing??

    • I hear you, Stephanie!

      Did you read the article? Also, if you haven’t already, I recommend setting up a meal plan that includes filling foods and foods you like to stick to daily. You can put one together here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

  • Brandon Dedic

    Hey mike, I ate way to much at
    My sisters graduation party (a lot of great food). Should I just eat in a deficit for a few days to offset it?

  • jess

    Hiya Mike, I’m recovering from anorexia & binge/purge behaviours& am currently in hospital (soon to be discharged). I’ve been here a month & I still went home on leave & binged! I couldn’t seem to stop it despite sticking to my meal plan! I’m thinking maybe it’s partly because I would binge eat massive amounts of Veges like whole cabbages & despite getting more calorie dense foods here they are lower bulk. but the staff say veges arent the answer and i just have to eat more! (I must be eating 3000 cals a day already!) I used to eat only in the evenings too. What vegetarian suggestions would you have for meals if you were only to eat in the evenings? Even protein rich foods don’t seem to help! I’m feeling So hopeless!!

    • Hey Jess,

      Eating a lot of veg is definitely a good idea because it’s filling and low-calorie but have you looked at environmental triggers that you can address? Social situations? Certain foods around the house? Things like that?

  • Dan

    Mike this article is truly amazing, I follow this aswell, I have 300 cal for breakfast 400 for lunch and 1200 for supper, this is my dream cutting diet, I eat lean meats and high carb, I feel great, In fact sometimes I can’t handle eating my baked oatmeal after my supper as I am too full. so I have to literally force myself to get the calories in. I have tried Intermittent fasting in the past and it made me feel like I was dying, saving 200/300 calories is not worth the terrible side effects. So I experimented having 3 whole grain rice cakes when I wake up with a coffee about 110 calories, then I literally never think about food until about lunch time, if I am little hungry I will have some eggs about 11am, but i could go till lunch easily without and have ZERO side effects,, then at lunch I am really not that hungry but i have a protein meal with carbs, then dinner time the feasting begins. There are so many stupid fad diets, I have tried many of them, but nothing works better than what you have suggested in this article. There are loads of BS books on amazon that make millions because of idiots buying them. such as low carb, or intermittent fasting, but really all these books do is deprive your body and mind. I am sick to death of hearing these crappy fads. I ignored your advise after reading bigger leaner stronger 4 years, ago because of meal prep and commitment to your training regime, but years on I have now released you must find the eating style that suits your lifestyle and this article is so true it’s unreal. My body does not need food much in the day it needs it at night. Mike you are by far the best mentor on the internet in regards to training, nutrition and fitness. The rest is all steroid pumping prats!!

    Long live Muscleforlife

    • Thanks, Dan. Happy to hear you’re finding great success with this! Nice work.

      I appreciate that 🙂 Keep up the amazing work, man!

  • Sean Steinmetz

    Great article. The holidays just roasted me pretty hard. I was in a deficit for about 6 months, got down to ~12% bf, and reverse dieted up to TDEE to prepare to start bulking right around thanksgiving. I planned on doing so the “clean” way, but one too many social events over the last month just messed me up. Now I’m more like 18% bf and am straight up worried. I love my friends, but man, their idea of “just enjoying yourself” is a few nights of hardcore binging for me. I’m going to maintain a 10% surplus, and hope the fat gain slows, while the muscle builds. Just can’t believe how easy it is to quickly undo months of hard work.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article, Sean. I do recommend cutting back down again to 10%. This is ideal for several reasons: it preserves insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance, it allows you to maintain a calorie surplus for many months before having to reduce body fat levels, and it saves you from long, grueling cuts. This should be easier to do now that the holidays are over. Very easy to wipe out months of hard work.

  • david

    hey mike ive been a follower of your work for a few year now,i have all your books and have had a few meal plans off you too.I managed to loose 30 lbs two years ago but have put it all back on.I train hard in the gym and also do sprint training,i just cnt control my diet.I binge on sugar and find counting calories a pain…please help.any adice would be grateful
    cheers
    David

  • jonathan

    MFL team,

    What if you were to save your calories during the weekday and binging on the weekends? What does that do to your metabolism? Would eating at 1k less calories during the weekday allow the metabolism to adapt quickly enough during that span?

    • Hey Jonathan,

      Your metabolism doesn’t really need time to “adjust” to your food intake. If you mean would you be able to get away with binging on the weekends by saving up your calories during the week, that probably wouldn’t cause any major physical issues as long as you maintained your weight.

      That said, I strongly recommend against that approach for behavioral reasons. It’s just way too easy to get stuck in that pattern, and it can become very hard to switch back to a healthier style of eating once you’ve been doing that for a while. By saving up calories to binge on the weekends, you’re probably also shortchanging yourself in terms of diet quality. That’s probably not going to cause any problems in the short-term, but if you kept up that style of eating for months or years, it likely would.

      So, on the whole, I don’t recommend it.

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