Everyone does it now and then, eats for pleasure rather than necessity. Some people do it more often than others, and a few even schedule certain days into their diet where they specifically eat whatever their heart desires (typically called a cheat day).
This is quite beneficial for two reasons.
The first is because it gives you a psychological break from the stress associated with following a strict diet the rest of the time and will keep you more motivated to stick to your eating plan afterward.
The second is because if you are following a hypocaloric plan, chances are your metabolism has slowed to accommodate less calories. By eating more than your body is used to for one meal or day, you will shock your system and kick your metabolism up a notch. This will help make losing fat easier while you are on your diet (since you will be burning more calories due to a higher metabolic rate).
But what happens after you have one of these cheat days, or a meal where you choose to indulge? How can you get back into your normal plan and regain control? The following tips will show you what to expect the day following and how to deal.
Don't weigh yourself the next day! How many times have you had one too many pieces of dessert only to feel you must weigh yourself the next morning to see just how much damage you've done? And you probably saw the scale go up a pound or two, particularly if what you ate was high in sodium (such as many fast and packaged foods tend to be).
You need to relax if this happens and learn to tell yourself that you really did not gain 2 pounds of body fat over one meal. What has happened is your body is retaining extra water weight due to an increased number of carbohydrates and/or salt in your system. Given a day back on your usual diet and you will quickly see these pounds disappear.
How To Deal Combating Water Bloat
To overcome this problem of extra water, focus on eating your normal meals the next day, paying particular attention to foods that are higher in protein. These types of foods will help you to rid your body of the excess water, as they do not require as much water per gram of nutrient.
Also be sure to drink lots of water that day to help flush the salt out of your system and try and stay away from processed foods (which normally have a high salt content).
Eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains as this will help provide you with complex carbohydrates that your body needs after eating a number of more simple forms of carbohydrates (if your indulgence was dessert or sugar oriented).
A Lack Of Appetite
After far surpassing your normal calorie intake, you may find that the last thing you want to do the next morning is eat. Your body is still full from eating so much food the day before and your hunger signals may be blunted.
How To Deal Getting Your Appetite Back
Wait an hour or two after you wake up and then eat a light breakfast. Even though you may not be hungry it is still important to get some food in your body so you can keep your metabolism moving and provide you with some proper nutrition to start the day.
Try and keep the meal light and healthy by having something such as some fresh fruit and cottage cheese, or a piece of toast with a poached egg. This should be fairly easily digested by your system and won't add to the bloated feeling you may be having.
A Low Energy Level
Depending on what you ate and your nutritional status beforehand, you may either be feeling very low on energy or else very high on energy. If you had quite a bit of glycogen in your body (meaning your diet before was not that low on carbohydrates) you will probably awake feeling low on energy.
This is because you likely took in many simple carbohydrates, which will cause a drastic increase in your blood sugar level followed by a sharp drop (thus a low blood sugar level and low energy level).
On the other hand, if you were very low on muscle glycogen (this may be the case if you were following a low carbohydrate diet and exercising quite heavily), your body may have sucked up all the carbohydrates you have eaten which will make you feel like you have a great deal more energy (since your muscles now have their preferred source of fuel once again).
This situation is a little more rare however, and you are more likely to feel more sluggish and tired the next day.
How To Deal Regulating Your Energy
As unappealing as it sounds, a great way to help yourself overcome this issue is going for a light workout the next day. The exercise will get your muscles working again and using the glucose in the body and will help boost your mood and concentration levels. It doesn't have to be anything super strenuous, just something that will get your heart and muscles moving.
After the workout be sure to eat a healthy post workout meal or shake to supply your muscles with the proper nutrients they need.
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Look at an eating indulgence as something you are doing to regain motivation to keep working out and eating healthy, almost like a reward for sticking to your program.
There are a few positive benefits that come out of allowing yourself a treat once in a while and as long as you know what to expect the next day and how to go about dealing with it you should have no trouble returning to your normal healthy diet and getting your body feeling great again.
Try not to stress out too much the next day if you feel like you've just undone all your hard work. One meal or even a whole day of eating badly won't set you back that far and you most likely will not gain any measurable amount of weight from it (keep in mind it takes 3500 calories to gain 1 pound and even the most extreme meals do not normally go over this amount).
You may not be feeling completely ideal the day after, but as with anything, the body has a remarkable ability to fight back and return it to its usual self and with the proper steps, you can help speed up this process.