Has this ever happened to you, or perhaps you’ve wondered this… you were doing well all week. Eating clean, eating well, on point with a healthy way of eating, on point with your diet. Then for what ever reason you went on a ravenous carb bender and food binge.
You ate all the cookies, all the chips, all the kids snacks and you didn’t give a f—, until the next morning when you woke up with a food hang over.
Well after that food hangover your first thought is, “I feel like crap, I better not eat today; I better fast half, if not, all day”
Ever thought or did that before?
I can assure you, that you’re not the only one.
Should You Fast After a Food Binge?
Just like most things in fitness there is NOT a clear cut answer because the answer depends on the person and their unique situation. Let me give you a few common situations and see if one of these help guide your answer.
Side note: Up front I do believe in fasting, but not for weight loss reasons. Reasons of health, mental resets, yes. But using the absence of food to lose weight, IMO, isn’t the best way to lose weight. I’ve seen too many unhealthy relationships with food created this way. Binge – fast, binge – fast, this leads to using fasting as a form of punishment which should not be it’s intention.
Now, before I go further, understand that to lose weight or fat in this case, it’s all about being in a caloric deficit which means consuming less calories that you burn, or burning more calories than you consume. To find what those amounts of calories are for you CLICK HERE and follow the steps.
Just keep that in mind before you decide which person you are to determine if fasting after a binge is right for you.
Person A: You have a habit of having a weekend bender (or binge) on Saturday then fasting all day Sunday to offset the extra calories you’ve consumed. You’ve made little to no weight loss progress in the past month.
Answer: No. Without realizing it you’re creating a habit of binge fast, binge fast, and are using the absence of food as a way to offset the binge. This is creating an unhealthy relationship with food and if you’re not careful you are living for the binge, look forward to the binge.
What sucks about that is you’re still not getting anywhere with your goals. In this case the best thing to is LIMIT your binge to 90min (not an entire day or afternoon) then get back on your eating plan the following day. You’ll find you’ll lose more weight this way
CLICK HERE <=== for my cheat meal rules to help you with this.
Person B: You live a fairly routine life, you eat the same foods, you’re routine with your meals, you go out on occasion but generally keep yourself in check. But on a rare occasion you’ll let go a bit more and eat everything in sight waking up the following morning feeling like crap.
Answer: No; don’t fast. You’re in a better position that you think, you fell off the wagon once. No worries, no big deal. Give yourself some grace in this case, forgive yourself and move on. Otherwise, I worry that you’ll treat fasting as a punishment for falling off the wagon. Besides when you get back on you regular routine you’ll find that you feel better faster.
In the future, when you have those benders pay attention to what caused it. There very will could be a trigger such as eating too little that week, stress, too low in blood sugar, too low in protein, hormones, etc.. but if you can identify what is triggering that bender then you can make changes to ensure it happens less often.
Person C: You are similar to B in that you’re routine and live a fairly regimented lifestyle with the bulk of your eating being fairly healthy, but you had a moment that you feel off the wagon. You wake up feeling like crap and the thought of food makes you sick.
Answer: Yes, fast. In this case, don’t force yourself to eat if after a bender and you’re not hungry. Forgive yourself and move on. Give your body the time it needs to get that stuff out of your system, then when your appetite starts to come back, get back on your routine.
Person D: You’re a little more advanced. You’re on a VERY tight schedule with your goals. You have “x” weeks until you have to step in front of a camera, on stage, vacation, wedding, etc. You’re on a fairly diligent eating plan, but for what ever reason you just fell off the wagon and ate everything in sight.
Answer: (this one is two parts)
- If you are working with a coach, ask them what they recommend. They will give you advice on to do next. Some cases they may have you fast, others they will tell you to forget about it and get right back on schedule. For our online members at RTC it all depends on the individuals and their specific goals. Some cases it’s a freebie and we move on. And sometimes we’ll have them skip a few meals and figure out what caused the fast in the first place. Again it’s different per person.
- If you are not working with a coach, then yes, skipping a few meals isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t impeed your workouts or your relationship with food. At your stage you have to measure your calories over the course of an average over many days, not just one. So if it’s easier for you to miss a few meals to offset the extra calories and make your caloric average for the week then do so; but also consider that you can also just lighten up some of your meals over the week and still meet your caloric average.
Lastly, similar to Person B, find out what caused or triggered that binge and make corrections to be sure that won’t happen again. The goal in your stage is consistency, not damage control.
I can’t cover all possible situations, but the ones listed above are some of the most common ones that we see.
Just keep this in mind, fasting for a period of time DOES have health benefits that supercede weight loss, but if you begin to use fasting as damage control or as a way to punish yourself for falling off your routine, then that’s not a good spot to be in.
Fasting should be used as a way to give your body a break from food, allow your body to work on itself (instead of digestion food the entire time) and give you a mental reset if you find your developing back food habits.
Fasting has it’s place and if you use it smartly you’ll be in a much better position if you ever fall off the wagon with your food.
Lastly, if you fall off the wagon give yourself some grace. Life happens, $hit happens, forgive yourself and move on. It will all be ok. 🙂
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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