SHOULD YOU UNDEREAT THE DAY AFTER OVEREATING? We’re not big on “should” questions (usually ‘it depends’ is a better answer), but in this case, we’re going to come down hard on a side. And that is to say, no. You shouldn’t! You should not undereat after a day of overeating to “balance it out.” Instead, you should get right back on track with your nutrition plan, eating your regular amount, not ‘under’ to “make up for a bad day yesterday!”
The first reason is because playing fast and loose is not often a winning long-term strategy. If overeating followed by undereating (or vice versa) becomes a frequent habit, the cost is that we ultimately become less consistent with our nutrition plan. Why is this? Because it’s disorienting and complicated. And the more we complicate a thing, the harder it is to stick to doing the thing. One bad day will not ruin all of your progress. But allowing that one bad day to continue to manifest and insert itself into your brain space for days to come… that will throw you off track.
The second reason is near and dear to my heart. And that is, what you’re essentially doing is punishing yourself for overeating. This is never a healthy (or even effective…but we’ll get to that next) strategy. Shame and guilt are pretty crappy motivators. Sometimes they get what they want, but they decimate everything in their wake. Yes, we want progress, but we also want to feel whole. I think we might even want to feel whole more than anything in the world. So, let’s not feel empty in the name of making progress. Let’s heal and become whole instead. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t just sound like progress to me… that sounds like freedom.
The other reason is because, um, science. Undereating as a reaction to overeating will ultimately cause you to overeat, which sounds very counterproductive to me. You see, our bodies really don’t like change. They’ll fight us every step of the way. So, your body will simply react to undereating by exclaiming “I need FOOOOD!!! NOWWWWW.” And if you think you have the willpower to withstand this, your body will still outsmart you by opting for less activity (known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE).
We’re not perfect. Not a single one of us. If you had a less than stellar day, the best thing you can do for your progress (not to mention as an act of rebellious love to yourself) is to shake it off and just try again the next day!
Caitlin Buckvold is a nutrition coach at Clandestine Strength & Conditioning. She is passionate about helping people find gimmick-free nutrition solutions that they can keep for life.