I feel like shit now.
I know I shouldn’t have done it. I tried to reason with myself, to bargain, barter and bribe, but none of it worked.
Did I enjoy it?
I have to think I did, at least in the moment otherwise it really was for nothing. Either way the pleasure was short-lived but the guilt will hang around for much longer. So, I’m sat here feeling shit, trying to decide how to react whilst wishing there was a way to rewind time and do it all over from the beginning.
I take a small comfort from the fact that I wasn’t the only one and are therefore not the only who feels this way, misery loves company right…?! Thinking about it now, it was all over so quickly, one wrong decision, one moment of weakness combined with the inability to control myself and the damage is done.
Yet the more I think about it the more I realise it’s not an inability to control myself it’s an unwillingness. Ah, perhaps a rare moment of clarity I think to myself before quickly dismissing it.
I decide that it’s really neither here nor there as there’s still no conceivable way to undo what’s been done.
I strengthen my resolve and promise myself to be better and do better next time, to look at the big picture and not fall into the same trap over and over but, even as I promise myself this I know deep down that nothing will change and I’ll be here again.
Same place, same time I think to myself as I get up to leave.
Does this sound familiar?...The cycle of binge eating at the weekend after a week of being strict. The cycle of continuously undoing all your hard work, seemingly powerless to stop it from happening.
I ate this way for a long time and during this time, I saw little to no progress and hated myself for not stopping it. Truth be told I still know some people who feel like this. Stuck in the cycle of overeating and feeling like shit just to convince themselves it won’t happen again.
Then low and behold, next weekend rolls around and it plays out like an action replay.
This is the weekend diet phenomenon.
What is the Weekend Diet?
The weekend diet is term I’m using to describe the cycle of restrictive weekday eating followed by unrestricted, binge eating at the weekend. It characterised by boring, bland and overly restrictive ‘clean’ eating during the week and unchecked binge eating of ‘junk food’ at the weekend.
Caution is thrown to the wind and as you’re finally able to cast of the shackles of the weekday diet (that you hate) and you lose all self-control as you finally feel like you can eat the foods you want.
The weekend diet is created by the mistaken idea that to lose fat or be healthy you can’t enjoy the foods you eat, must be ravenously hungry most of the time and generally miserable with your circumstances.
A Shift in Mindset?
One thing that all fat loss ‘diets’ have in common are that they put you in a calorie deficit. Show me a fat loss ‘diet’ that has you eating in a calorie surplus and still losing weight…you can’t.
Sure, the debate rages over what’s best for weight loss. Is it keto, if it fits your macros, high carb, low carb or paleo? Or should you just close your eyes and pick food at random?
To a degree it doesn’t matter, a calorie deficit is what will make you lose weight and whichever diet allows you to stick to this consistently without feeling like shit or constantly craving certain foods is going to be the best, for you.
This being said the quality of your food does matter. Yes, you can lose weight eating only junk food BUT it will play havoc with your body and although you’ll lose weight you’ll be unhealthy AF. Not to mention the role that macronutrients play when it comes to body composition.
The bottom line is, you need to eat a wide variety of different foods to get the necessarily macronutrients, micronutrients and vitamins your body needs to function optimally.
HOWEVER, you can do this and still include the foods you like!
How to Include the Foods You Like in Your Diet Without Bingeing
Why should you have to exclude pizza, burgers, doughnuts and ice cream? Haven’t you ever noticed how when you can’t have something, you want it even more?
So, when you do this are you really (REALLY) surprised when you end up eating the weekend diet? You shouldn’t be, not really. It’s inevitable that if you restrict food items from your diet that there will come a point where you can’t stop yourself. When this happens, you’ll dive head first into pizza hut (or Krispy Kremes or wherever else) and eat way more than you ever would have if you’d just included pizza in your diet in the first place.
INCLUDE is the key word here. Include pizza in your diet not have your diet consist ONLY of pizza.
The Best Way To Make Room In Your Diet For The Foods You Like
Fortunately, it’s pretty simple as long as you know your daily calorie allowance and macronutrient breakdown. Once you know this all you need to do is allocate a little space in your diet for the foods you like.
A 170 lb man trying to lose weight would eat around 2,000 calories a day with the following macronutrient breakdown:
- Protein = 170 g / 680 kcals
- Fat = 66g / 600 kcals
- Carbs = 180g / 720 kcals
Now let’s say this guy loves ice cream and wants to include 2 scoops of his favourite ice cream in his diet for dessert. Let’s also say his favourite ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough (because who doesn’t love cookie dough?!).
2 scoops of this ice cream have the following nutritional breakdown:
- Calories = 280 kcals
- Protein = 4 g
- Fat = 15 g
- Carbs = 32 g
So, when planning his food for the day or the week he would minus these calories from his total on the days he knew he was going to have ice cream.
When we do this, we see that the ice cream is only about 14% of his total daily intake which means over 80% of his daily intake can be made up from lean protein sources and a mix of fats and carbs.
This still gives our imaginary guy the flexibility to;
- Eat the foods he enjoys
- Stay in a calorie deficit
- Have plenty of room for fruit and vegetables
- Make up over 80% of his daily diet with nutritious food sources
This strategy can be used to include chocolate, cookies or popcorn in your diet as a snack or dessert.
What About Including A Bigger Meal?
Ok so maybe you’re meeting for a friend’s birthday and they love pizza...or you want to have a burger, just because, well…does anyone need a reason to want a burger?!
Let’s look at how you’d include this in your diet.
Now because these foods can easily take up 600 – 1,200 calories in your diet or more depending where you get them from we need to be strategic.
Not only this but eating these foods can often be difficult for the following reasons:
- It becomes hard to hit your protein goal when using most of your calories for one meal
- They are low in vitamins and minerals which can be detrimental to health if eaten too often
- Can leave you hungry later in the day as you blow most of your calories on one meal
The solution is to employ intermittent fasting (IF).
For those not already using IF, it’s an eating protocol that sees you stick to a particular eating schedule that allows you to fast for part of the day.
The most common is probably the 16:8 fast.
When doing 16:8 you fast for 16 hours, usually starting after dinner before eating all of your daily calories within an 8-hour window*.
*If you’re not using IF on a regular basis then don’t worry about being overly strict with your fasting and eating windows. It’s more important you structure you day in a way that works best for you.
How Do You Use Intermittent Fasting To Eat The Foods You Like?
If you’re going to be eating your pizza or burger and chips for dinner then you would skip breakfast and fast throughout the morning. During this period, you can drink black coffee, tea and sparkling water, anything with 0 kcals, this will help stave off hunger. Then at lunch time you would eat a high protein meal with lots of vegetables and some fruit. This will serve to help you meet your protein goals and keep you satiated.
(Our imaginary guy from before would allocate 300 – 500 kcals to this meal)
Mid-afternoon you would have a high protein snack, something like an omelette with a mix of eggs and egg whites, spinach, onion and some cheese can work well.
(Our imaginary guy from before would allocate 200 – 400 kcals to this meal)
By the time dinner rolls around you’ll still have 1,200+ calories available for your pizza or burger and you can now eat the burger or pizza without worrying about going over your calories or missing your macronutrient goals.
Win, win. Big smile.
Now, this isn’t ideal for everyone and some people won’t want to do it but I firmly believe it’s achievable for the majority of people who want to include these foods in their diet. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing it all the time as you’ll likely miss out on important minerals and vitamins which will negatively affect your health.
You’ll also struggle to properly hit your calorie and macronutrient goal which is detrimental to your progress.
How Important Is It To Hit Your Calorie & Macronutrient Goal?
The more you want to get out of it, the more important it is to hit both these goals.
However, we can split it into 2 main categories:
1. Weight loss with not too much concern about body composition
If this describes your goal then aim to hit your total calorie goal within 100 kcals either side and you’ll be fine. You’ll lose weight at a steady pace and your daily calories will balance out over the week.
2. Weight loss with the primary purpose to improve body composition
If this describes your goal then aim to hit your macronutrients with 5 – 10g and this by default will keep you close to your calorie goal. Allowing you the benefits of the calorie deficit (weight loss) and well-structured macronutrient goals (body composition).
The weekend diet is ruining your progress and taking your further away from your goals. Start including the foods you like in your diet for superior results, to actually enjoy what you eat and stop the cravings and the weekend diet binges.