Monday-Friday: “Diet is going great!”
Friday night: “Eh, it’s just one night.”
Saturday: “You earned today, you’ve been doing so well.”
Sunday: “Well, might as well just get back to strict Monday.”
It’s your sister’s birthday Friday night, you go downtown and have maybe a few too many drinks.
Saturday’s spent with friends, and the evening brings more spirits, and inhibition-diminishing fun.
Sunday is mostly lazing around with friends and family, with numerous snacking windows, aided by generous helpings.
Social Stress & Dieting Mishaps:
There’s two ends of this spectrum:
As with most things, we want to wind up somewhere in the middle.
Refusing to have a social life isn’t going to benefit your overall quality of life, nor will going to social events and chewing on ice cubes and drinking seltzer water.
On the other hand, seeking out every social opportunity just to get a break from having to restrict yourself, will only feed the loop that’s all too common: diet, minimal results due to poor execution and application, quit, demonize diet, repeat with new one.
How can we find the balance of enjoying friends and family, parties, gatherings, events, and taking breaks from restriction, while also facilitating fat loss and/or muscle gains on a daily and weekly basis?
Using methods like caloric partitioning, and macro planning to prepare for social outings.
Caloric Partitioning: “saving up” calories from one or more days, and adding them to the day of an outing. Coined by Eric Helms as “Robbing Peter to pay Paul,” you’re essentially consuming less on one day, and adding it to another.
If you’re caloric goal for the day is 2150 calories, your caloric goal for the week would be 15,050 (2150×7). So taking 300 calories from Thursday’s (Peter) intake, and adding it to Saturday’s (Paul), would ideally have no negative effect.
This is great if you can appropriately prepare the day you’re going to consume less to be filled with low calorie, lean, dense foods to make sure you’re staying satiated (veggies, low-sugar fruits, lean meats, etc.)
Macro Planning: this is essentially just accurately planning ahead. Plan ahead the day of an event intake-wise to give yourself the advantage of having an educated guess of how much you’ll be eating/drinking.
Plan the day’s breakfast, snacks, and lunch, and try to grab the menu online of where you’re going, find nutritional info, and input that #foodporn dinner that’s causing you to salivate right now. Add your beverage of choice, and accurately try and gauge the amount to input.
Now you’ve got yourself an educated guess, and you can plan out how much you need to partition to the early day’s meals to enjoy your social gathering.
We all know, truthfully, what options we could swap and modify to be less-sabotaging. That’s the benefit of the aforementioned strategies; you’ll have an idea of if you even need to make substitutions.
Have a slice of bread, not the loaf.
Have some fries, not all of them.
Want rice? Get it. Feel like you shouldn’t? Get it, but don’t eat the full serving.
Consume water consistently, preferably with each beverage.
Have a small slice of dessert, not your own personal pie.
Don’t get sugary mixed drinks, or if you do skip the appetizer and fries to allot for it.
Don’t show up to Steak ‘n Shake or Waffle House at 2am.
Don’t murder leftover chips, queso, chicken tenders and pie once you get home.
Don’t binge! That’s the most important. Use your own internal cues to moderate you: are you even still hungry?
*To be safe, I recommend adding an extra 10-15% serving size of your meal if you’re eating out and it’s necessary to track. For example, if I get a Chipotle bowl, I’ll input the bowl, but under “number of servings” I may put “1.15” in to account for the inaccuracy of the menu’s nutrition. If you’re making my food at a restaurant, I know your ass isn’t weighing that steak, serving of rice, quac, and queso.
These apply to those who are incredibly focused on reaching their goals as a way to “have their cake and eat it, too.” If you’re not dieting per se, nor are you actively trying to follow a nutritional program, trying to make weight for an event, or just to see if you can – just enjoy yourself.
The negative relationship you can foster with food is NOT worth the compromise. Remember, 80/20 rule. This is in that 20% of “enjoy yourself.”
If you haven’t been doing well, and your week overall has been more like 60/40, or 50/50, I don’t think a social event is the time to double down.
Enjoy your friends, family, food, and drinks – relax. Don’t stress about what you’re eating for a night, when the whole reason you watch what you eat in the first place is to increase your quality of life. Well, a “life quality enhancer” is here, so soak it up.
The Purpose of This:
I want to provide you with strategies you can implement to continue with your success and progress, while also trying to maintain a healthy life balance.
I want to stress even more so that having a great relationship, understanding, and education of food will take you further than relying on these strategies without understanding them.
Know yourself, know your struggles. Understand food is energy, but this day and age has some damned good tasting energy. Understand your friends and family want to see your success, but don’t want to see you stress yourself to the point of not enjoying the festivities.
If you’re getting down to the nitty-gritty and it’s time to stay strict, then stay strict. You know what you have to do, so do it. Be rigid when needed, and explain to your group your situation. If they can’t relate, or they use it as an opportunity to poke fun, get a new social circle.
You have to know when it’s appropriate. If you’re not dedicating yourself to a rigid goal, with a set-date that happens to be coming up, save the stress and enjoy.
Referred to as the “fourth macronutrient.” Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram, and carbs and protein has 4 calories per gram. Unlike carbs, fats, and protein though, alcohol presents incredibly little to no nutrient benefit.
When you consume alcohol you may feel like a cheerful butterfly floating through a meadow, ready to spark up conversation with flowers and clouds, but there are some other negatives to beware of.
Alcohol takes first priority as the metabolized fuel source. When you’re consuming alcohol, the other carbs, fats, and protein are much more readily converted into fat because the primary function of your body is “metabolize this poison.”
How to Track Alcohol:
If you decide you want to stay on top of your intake, here’s a simple way to track to booze:
Hit your protein numbers, and only use carbs or fats to divvy up for the hooch.
Track as a carb: Take all the calories in your drink and divide by 4.
Track as fat: Take all the calories in your drink and divide by 9.
Split carbs and fats: divide calories in half and divide by 4, divide remaining half by 9.
250 calories to carbs: 250cals/4= 62.5g carbs
250 calories to fats: 250 cals/9= 28g fats
250 to both: 125/4= 31g carbs, 125/9= 14g fats
How I Track Alcohol to Stay Sane, & Enjoy Myself:
I track protein for the day, and I track total calories for the day. I no longer turn the alcohol calories into macros, and I no longer neurotically input math equations into a little blue app on my phone while I’m pestering the bartender for a bourbon.
There is a time when I would possibly recommend the macro tracking, and that’s when you’re really trying to learn the composition of foods/drinks, and learn how to partition.
I no longer do such. Calories are equated, so I’m good. Protein for the day is still hit, so I’m doing all I can to mitigate the negative effects.
Be The Life of The Party, But Also The Most Focused
Thanks for reading 🙂