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You Can Overeat and Still Be in a Caloric Deficit

One day of overeating does NOT offset all of your progress.

When you’re dieting, it’s easy to feel like you ruined your progress after a Friday or Saturday night full of pizza and ice cream. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Let’s walk through this example so you can see exactly what I mean…

For these purposes, let’s assume you find out that your maintenance calories are 2,200 per day. In other words, if you eat that amount every day, your weight won’t change.

You decide you want to lose weight, so you aim to eat 1,800 calories every day (a deficit of 400 calories every day). There are many different ways to adjust your calories, so this is just a random example of 400 calories per day. Obviously you would adjust based on your own preferences and goals!

Everything is going great, and you’re eating right around 1,800 calories every day. You’re feeling great and really thrilled with your progress.

But then…Saturday happens.

By the end of the night, after all of the drinks, pizza, and dessert, you end up eating 3,200 calories total, which is well over your target. In fact, it’s nearly double your caloric goal of 1,800 calories.

It’s easy to feel like you messed up and that you ruined all of your progress. I mean, your goal is a DEFICIT, and 3,200 calories is even well above your normal maintenance level. You were doing great all week, but now one day of overeating might have destroyed all of that…

Take a step back and look at the big picture.

You can overeat and still be in a deficit

It’s important to look at the week as a whole, not just the single day. Even though you overate on this one day, you are still in an overall deficit for the entire week.

Most people get too caught up in a single day, when in reality, our bodies don’t reset overnight. If you overeat on a Saturday, it’s not like your body is starting back over a 0 calories on Sunday.

For simplicity sake, it’s easiest for us to track daily calories and take things on a day-by-day basis. But it’s extremely important to be able to step back and look at the larger picture.

Just because you overate on a single day, you may very well still be in an overall deficit over the span of the week.

Is the deficit as large as you planned? No. In fact, it’s half of what it would have been if you hadn’t overate on Saturday. But you did, and that is TOTALLY FINE.

A deficit is still a deficit. Progress is still progress. One day does not make you a failure.

If you look at the big picture of the whole week, it wasn’t a failure at all. You still achieved an overall deficit, which was the goal.

When you look at it through that lens, you still succeeded.

Whether you overeat (or under eat) by 200 calories or 2,000 calories, it’s only one day. One day is never going to make or break your progress!

You can remain perfectly on track regardless of what a single day does, or doesn’t do. Small progress is still progress.

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More