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Here’s Why You Should Forgive Yourself After One Bad Dieting Day

Tim Boyer's picture
bad dieting day

One of the biggest mistakes a dieter can make is emotionally kicking his or herself after slipping on their diet plan following an evening of bacchanal reverie with friends. So, why is it a mistake to be overly critical after stuffing your face while on a diet? According to Prevention magazine, the amount of weight you actually gain after one terrible day of eating is surprising low.


One mistake that many dieters make is deciding to start their diet on a particular day, swearing that no matter what, that they will stick to it to the extreme of deprivation until they’ve met their weight loss goal. However, such zeal to become a weight loss success typically makes any sense of failure all the more greater—especially after one bad dieting day when you feel like you had just eaten enough to erase away all the previous hard dieting work you’ve done up till then.

As it turns out, according to Prevention magazine contributing writer Annie Daly, just because you slipped up the night before with too many margaritas and tacos, you should not be freaking out the next morning thinking that you "blew your diet." The truth is―you really didn’t because it’s all a matter of simple mathematics.

Ms. Daly tells readers that when nutrition director Samantha Cassetty, RD, MS, was asked just how much weight you can gain from one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad (eating) day, the answer is that you would have to have consumed a ridiculous amount of food to gain even just one pound in a day.

"It’s virtually impossible to gain weight overnight, even if you really blew it on bar food," says Cassetty. "The reason comes down to calorie math. Though it’s not 100% precise, the basic principle stands true: In order to gain weight, you’d have to eat 3,500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure."

One math example to make her point is supposing that a person eats 2,000 calories per day on a normal day. In order for that person to gain one pound they would have to have eaten a total 5,500 calories the day before providing they did not move and just laid on the floor in a gluttonous coma till morning and completely stopped burning any calories—which in reality they don’t. You burn calories—albeit slowly―just by existing.

To amass that extra 3,500 calories, Ms. Cassetty states that in order to come close to that many calories it would take at least the equivalent of your consuming three glasses of wine (370 calories), two chicken wings (110 calories), some onion rings (340 calories), a portion of chips and queso (290 calories), one burger with the works (860 calories) and a slice of chocolate cake (795 calories).

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Furthermore, she points out that contrary to what is commonly held anecdotal evidence concerning over-eating, that according to research it’s actually difficult to gain real weight after one day of overeating:

"Although people typically say they gain five to 10 pounds over the six-week holiday period, the best study to date, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that, on average, most people gained just one," says Cassetty. "Fewer than 10% of the study participants actually gained more than five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day."

So the take home message here is that there is no need to beat yourself up emotionally after one evening of falling off of the dieting wagon. Pick yourself up, have a morning weight loss smoothie, hit the gym and take some pride in knowing that you are the master of your body and can overcome the occasional dieting obstacle.

For more about dieting and health checkout Prevention.com.

To help your body recover from a night of too much food and drink that leaves you feeling like you’ve gained 5 or 10 pounds, here are a few belly bloat reducing tips to make you look and feel better.

And if you've went only slightly overboard during dinner the night before, here's a simple trick to erase 250 calories in one day.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Reference: Prevention—“How Much Weight Can You Really Gain After One Terrible Day Of Eating?”