Many slimming diets today offer the possibility of having a free meal , or a meal that does not follow any precise dietary rules either in the choice of food or in its calories. In some cases, it is even a whole day off, often on the weekend, and the idea behind this concession is not to make dieters feel limited in the choice of their favorite foods, forced to eat only a few. things and forgetting all the others, which would put him in a stressful situation and could push him to abandon the meal plan. In short, the free meal has a psychological function most of the time. It means taking a little break and then resuming the diet on Monday.
But often this concession is counterproductive. There are those who overeat during their free meal. And this happens most of the time. If we have to control calories, overdoing it even if only during one meal a week or a whole day means losing that caloric advantage that we have accumulated in the days of diet. To explain it better , I’ll give you an example. Let’s say Anna needs to lose weight: to stay on her weight she needs to eat 1800 calories. To lose weight, she will go on a 1300-calorie-a-day diet. If she followed the diet for 7 days, she would lose about half a kilo a week or so and 2 kilos a month, because she would have cut a total of 3,500 calories a week.. However, if he chooses to have a free meal, for example pizza on Saturdays, he would eat a thousand calories more with just pizza. This is if he limits his cheat to pizza. And if he eats something else, for example an appetizer, drinks a beer or indulges in a dessert, he would eat 1500 calories more. Which reduces her weekly calorie deficit to 2000 calories. In other words, by doing so, he would lose about 3 ounces per week.
A rather disappointing result, given that, in any case, from her point of view, Anna followed the diet for 6 days in a row. It would be enough to have a little water retention to not see the balance drop.
And if Anna has chosen a diet with a day off, in all likelihood she will tend to eat much more in the space of a day, almost double what she would eat if she were not on a diet, and therefore further reduce her calorie deficit. weekly.
Would it make sense to “suffer” for 6 days if she then ends up bingeing on the day off and frustrating her efforts?
Here, probably not. But how do you manage to have a free meal and lose weight anyway?
The idea is to choose different foods freely, but always maintaining the calorie deficit. How? Returning to Anna, it would be smarter to allow yourself two or three free meals a week as long as they are low in calories.For example, making free meals with a maximum of 400 or 500 calories in total and thus managing to stay in the 1300 calories a day even when you go wrong. This idea is the basis of the so-called ” flexible diet “.
I indulge in the foods I love several times a week but always keeping the calories in check.
400 or 500 calories correspond to:
– a slice of pizza by the slice
– a slice of cheesecake
– a small hamburger (without accompanying chips)
– a pound of biscuits or a large ice cream cone
– a medium portion of parmigiana or lasagna
If I I had two similar meals a week, I could continue to follow the diet more easily because it would seem to me to be on a diet 5 days a week and not 6 days a week,and I would still be in a calorie deficit .
This is the thing I advise you to do: not a really free free meal, but a free meal that is free in food but still controlled in portions and calories. In this way, we can indulge in it even twice a week and even three without feeling on a diet.