How To Get Back On Track After A Diet Binge

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What To Do When You Mess Up Your Diet

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters
— Epictetus

It’s inevitable that at some point you’ll mess up on your diet, after all, we’re only human and mistakes get made.

It’s how you react when these mistakes happen that will determine two things;

  1. How likely you are to mess up your diet again

  2. How likely you are to achieve your goals in the long run

Most people think that their mistakes require drastic measures;

  • Overeating calories one day leads to a 24 hour fast the next

  • Indulging in snacks causes you to swear off all snack food for good

  • A weekend of boozing results in juice fasts and tea cleanses

  • Any mistake has you in the gym doing huge amounts of exercise to make up for it / punish yourself

As a result, you swing from one extreme to another, struggling to find the balance you require to make progress and see results.

I used to be stuck in the cycle of strict weekday eating, weekend binges followed by day-long fasts and extra exercise to try and make up for my ‘diet ruining’ behaviour.

All I got for my efforts was;

  • Massive guilt from binging and ruining my diet, cue long fasts as repentance

  • Disappointment in myself for not being able to stick to the plan

  • Lacklustre progress in the gym

  • A bad relationship with food with a warped view of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods

  • Feelings of disillusionment with the whole ‘fitness’ process

It’s safe to say I wasn’t loving life at this point.

Something had to change.

And it did;

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Lean photo

I can’t remember the exact turning point, but I do remember an overwhelming feeling of being fed up, with my progress, my lack of self-control and my overall situation.

I knew there had to be a better way to react.

I was done with not only going off the rails but reacting in an equally extreme way in response.

How I Bounced Back From Diet Binges

My first step was to move from a restrictive diet plan to something more sustainable.

This was a huge change that was revolutionary and forever changed the way I eat for both losing fat and building muscle.

The next step was to adjust my behaviour and mindset in response to diet missteps I made along the way.

I learnt that the best way to react is to simply get right back on track

Get Right Back On Track

I know this might sound counterproductive at first but hear me out.

When you mess up on your diet the first thing you’re going to want to do is to make up for it somehow, for some it’s punishing yourself with exercise to earn back those calories and for others, it’s imposing a 24 hour fast to restore the balance.

All this does is throw you further out of balance and increase feelings of guilt for messing up your diet.

The trick is to carry on as normal, accept that you are only human and get back to the plan straight away.

This means;

  • No brutal exercise sessions

  • No 24-hour fasts

  • Any other sort of self-imposed punishment

Instead, you want to pick up where you left off the very next day.

Realise the worst thing that will happen from a single day of overeating is minimal in the long run.

Think about it like this…

Imagine a 170lb guy who needs 2,400 calories per day (16,800 calories per week) to maintain his weight.

This guy wants to lose fat, so he eats in a calories deficit of 400 calories per day and loses 1 – 2 lbs per week.

This means every week he eats 14,000 calories (2,000 per day) and his total calorie deficit is 2,800 calories per week.

Let’s imagine on one day he’s out for dinner with friends and eats or drinks an extra 1,000 (or even 1,500) calories on top of his 2,000 daily target.

The end result is this;

  • For the week he is still in a 1,300 – 1,800 calorie deficit

  • As a result of the above fat loss will continue

  • He enjoys himself without needing to worry about the result

Sure, weight loss may slow down a little that week but there’s certainly no need for him to feel guilty or ‘make up for it’ in any way.

Instead, all he needs to do is continue as normal the next day and it won’t make any difference in the long-run.

Takeaway Point

How you react when you mess up your diet is key to your long-term progress.

Instead of trying to make up for it or punish yourself just get straight back to it and know that in the long-run it won’t make any difference.

If you do this, you’ll be able to;

  • Enjoy the odd overindulgence guilt free

  • Continue making progress

  • Stick to your diet more easily

  • Stop feeling guilty when you go off track


Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
— Charles R. Swindoll

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