Can I save up my calories and have an overindulgent meal or drink a lot of alcohol (1000 kcals+) on the weekend?
To keep our bodies in the best shape and optimal health we want to reduce our risks of chronic diseases, be as active as possible and support our mental wellbeing. To ensure this we must aim for a fibre-rich diet based on minimally processed foods.
Some of the foods we enjoy eating don’t provide us with any/very little nutrient value. They are however extremely appealing. These foods are higher in calories offering great satisfaction due to their taste. Examples are cookies, cakes, sweets etc.
We also have foods that provide us with nutrients but are higher in calories due to the ingredients used. An example is a pizza. Cheese, olive oil, tomato-based sauce and bread will provide us with nutrients however at an average cost of over 1000kcals for one pizza which would be considered a high intake for a meal.
These foods can play a detrimental effect on our physical health is over consumed regularly.
However, we must also consider the other side of health.
Our mental health is extremely important with enjoying higher-calorie foods, with reduced nutrient value playing a large part of social well-being. Examples include celebrating an engagement with a glass of champagne to eating gelato while exploring Italy, to having a slice of cake at your child's birthday, to name a few.
So, if I have a big meal planned or a big night out on the weekend can I bank some calories for that meal/drinks and eat/drink whatever I want?
There are no strict rules for your nutrition. Your choices are your own.
You can choose to have regular and frequent daily indulgences that are fewer calories = little and often.
You can choose to have more calories/indulgences on a particular day/event = more calories and less frequent.
The caveat comes back to WHY and HOW you are having that indulgence.
This is where food relationships become important.
If you are being extremely restrictive Monday to Saturday so you can have a blow-out day on Sunday, then start all over again Monday I would suggest you look over your approach and possibly get some coaching support with this.
Banking calories for higher-calorie meals becomes a balancing act. When we have a social occasion which we know will require more calories than normal here is what I suggest:
- Save calories for the event/meal. The recommendation is to move 20% of your daily caloric target from the day(s) before the event. You could use as many days as you need after estimating how many calories you need extra for the event.
- Use a protein spared moderated fast (PMSF) on the day of the event. A PMSF is when you still consuming your normal meals at your normal times however these meals just become lean protein and veggies/fruits. This will ensure you don’t go to your meal out or social occasion super hungry that you overeat and lose the ability to make mindful choices. It will also help you save a bunch of calories by eliminating calories from carbs and fats for these meals. I have an example video on how to perform this method here: PMSF video
- Check the menu of the restaurant you are attending and estimate how many calories you will consume before going to the meal. You may also find nutritional information online to help guide your food choice.
- If practical when at the meal opt for foods that are easier to estimate but also calorie-conscious e.g., meat and vegetable dishes or lower calorie alcoholic beverages.
- Remember if your goal is weight loss and you want to maintain your weekly caloric deficit to ensure progress for that week then you will need to pick the food option which supports this goal. Unfortunately for many, that will be the lean protein and vegetable option and understanding you may need to forgo starters, desserts, and alcoholic beverages.
These methods are written assuming you are tracking your food intake however the same methods would apply if you were not formally tracking your foods. You will still want to limit your indulgences/calories in the days up to the event and be aware of what you select at the event as overeating calorie-dense foods are easy to do.
Please note your weight is likely to be higher the day after a meal out due to many factors such as food volume, sodium levels, hydration status, increased carbs etc. Please don’t worry if you get back into your normal routine your weight will stabilise in a couple of days.
To conclude if your diet is predominantly minimally processed and hits the recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies alongside enough protein to ensure optimal health and you consume the correct number of calories for your energy requirements and goals then you are taking the steps towards ensuring you eat a well-balanced diet.
In addition, the relationship you have with food is also important. Food is more than just calories. Make sure you don’t see foods as bad or good and you enjoy the social/enjoyment food provides.
Finally, we all have different goals we are working towards so it’s important to monitor if an indulgence is fulfilling a purpose and helping you succeed with your goals and control energy balance or if that indulgence is moving you further away and out of control with where you want to be.
Extra resources on eating for social occasions can be found by clicking the links below: