Overeating is a problem many people face during their weight loss journey, especially during the holiday season. While it's true that one meal won't completely derail your progress, just like one workout won't give you the body you've always wanted, too many dalliances with excessive calories can lead not only to weight loss plateaus but also weight gain. Here’s how to get back on track after binge eating.
5 Ways to Get Back on Track After Binge Eating
#1 Fill Up on VeggiesOver the years, you've no doubt heard about "superfoods." While there is no official definition for what a superfood is (it's largely a marketing term), superfoods generally describe foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vegetables of all kinds easily qualify as superfoods as they are abundant in all sorts of micronutrients to support health and wellness. As a bonus, vegetables are also packed with water and fiber, which help prevent overeating. By slowing down the digestion rate, vegetables help promote feelings of fullness, leading you to feel less likely after you've finished a meal and thus less likely to overeat or binge. Research shows that individuals who increase their fiber intake consume 10% fewer calories, on average, and tend to lose more weight compared to individuals who consume less fiber. <1> Additional studies back up these findings as they’ve found that people who eat more vegetables lose more weight and feel less hungry .<2> If you're looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into your daily diet, you can try adding some veggies to your snacks, as well as ensuring half of your plate at mealtime is covered by fibrous, non-starchy vegetables. By upping your veggie intake, you’ll help reduce hunger, increase feelings of satiety, boost nutrition, and help prevent overeating at mealtime and throughout the day.
#2 Avoid Skipping MealsMany individuals use one tactic after binge eating to skip their next meal (or two or three). Some individuals do this as a way to keep daily calorie intake under wraps. Still, many other individuals skip meals as a sort of "penance" to atone for the "sin" of overeating. This latter mindset sets the groundwork for an unhealthy relationship with food and patterns of disordered eating and increases the likelihood for another binge. If you have an episode of binge eating, it may help plan your next meal (or two or three). While it's probably the furthest thing from your mind after an all-out gorge-fest (like the kind you may have had on Thanksgiving), planning your next few meals can help you get back on schedule with your typical way of eating. Why is this important? Studies indicate that following a regular eating pattern may be associated with reduced binge eating episodes. <3,4> The takeaway here is that if you do happen to overeat at a certain meal, one of the best things you can do is to get right back on track with your healthy eating plan the very next meal. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t starve yourself. Get back on plan and keep working it!
#3 ExerciseThere’s seemingly no end to the benefits of regular physical activity. It improves insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, protein synthesis (aka muscle building), metabolism, and cardiovascular health. <5> Exercise also improves mood, productivity, creativity, and cognition. <6> Based on all of these findings, it comes an as little surprise that exercise may also help reduce binge-eating episodes. In fact, a 2002 study found that the combination of exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective for reducing binge eating frequency than cognitive-behavioral therapy alone. <7> A previous study also noted that regular exercise helped stop binge eating altogether .<8> The reasons for this are many. For starters, as we mentioned above, exercise boosts mood, and it helps relieve stress. As you probably know (or have experienced), stress and poor mood can be key contributors to overeating. <8> Additionally, exercise also helps suppress the "hunger" hormone, ghrelin, and increase levels of hormones that promote satiety, such as leptin, which further helps combat overeating. <9>
#4 Keep Yourself HydratedDrinking enough water each day is essential to overall health and wellness. Not only that but drinking enough fluids each day also helps keep feelings of hunger in check. Studies show that having a water "preload" before mealtime may reduce calorie intake as much as 13% compared to individuals who did not drink a big glass of water before eating. <10> Part of this may be because water takes up extra space in the stomach, causing it to expand, which acts as a signal to the brain that you've had enough to eat. If you regularly find that you're not consuming enough water throughout the day, it may be helpful to set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take a sip every 30-60 minutes. How many fluids you need to drink each day will depend on several factors, including the level of physical activity, age, height, environment, etc. If you don’t enjoy the taste of regular water, you can try drinking sparkling water, water infused with slices of fruit, or mixing up a serving of Steel Fuel® and sipping on it throughout the day.
#5 Eat Enough ProteinConsuming adequate protein essential for optimal muscle growth and repair can also help keep energy levels stable and hunger levels in check, which may help prevent phases of overeating. For starters, protein is highly satiating, which means it keeps you feeling fuller for longer. In fact, protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients. Protein-rich meals have also been shown to lower ghrelin levels more effectively than high-carb, lower protein meals. <11> Ideally, you will want to space your protein feedings evenly throughout the day to keep hunger/cravings in check and ensure a steady supply of amino acids in the bloodstream to support optimal muscle recovery and growth. Some of our favorite protein sources include:
- Whey Protein (such as Steel Whey™)
TakeawayOvereating from time to time is something we all deal with. It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or can’t get the results you want. The important thing to remember is to pick yourself back up, assess what caused you to binge in the first place, and think of what you can do the next time to help prevent overeating in the future. Going for walks, working out, reading, getting enough sleep, and consuming a healthy diet rich in belly-filling foods like protein, veggies, fruits, and whole grains can go a long way towards helping to prevent overeating. And if you need extra help burning off the goo from a period of overeating, you can always supplement your diet and exercise regimen with a high-potency thermogenic like Shredded Steel®. Shredded Steel® contains a synergistic mix of ingredients that help boost energy, support metabolism, reduce feelings of stress, and aid fat burning and energy metabolism.
- Howarth, NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x. PMID: 11396693.
- Tapsell LC, Batterham MJ, Thorne RL, O'Shea JE, Grafenauer SJ, Probst YC. Weight loss effects from vegetable intake: a 12-month randomised controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(7):778-785. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.39
- Rebozo S, Flynn PM, Stevens SD, Betancourt H. Dietary Adherence, Glycemic Control, and Psychological Factors Associated with Binge Eating Among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Chileans with Type 2 Diabetes. Int J Behav Med. 2015 Dec;22(6):792-8. DOI: 10.1007/s12529-015-9478-y. PMID: 25786595.
- Zendegui EA, West JA, Zandberg LJ. Binge eating frequency and regular eating adherence: the role of eating pattern in cognitive behavioral guided self-help. Eat Behav. 2014 Apr;15(2):241-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.03.002. Epub 2014 Mar 14. PMID: 24854811.
- Pinckard, K., Baskin, K. K., & Stanford, K. I. (2019). Effects of exercise to improve cardiovascular health. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2019.00069
- Bennie, J. A., Teychenne, M. J., De Cocker, K., & Biddle, S. J. (2019). Associations between aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise with depressive symptom severity among 17,839 U.S. adults. Preventive Medicine, 121, 121-127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.02.022
- Pendleton VR, Goodrick GK, Poston WS, Reeves RS, Foreyt JP. Exercise augments the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of binge eating. Int J Eat Disord. 2002 Mar;31(2):172-84. DOI: 10.1002/eat.10010. PMID: 11920978.
- DiLorenzo TM, Bargman EP, Stucky-Ropp R, Brassington GS, Frensch PA, LaFontaine T. Long-term effects of aerobic exercise on psychological outcomes. Prev Med. 1999 Jan;28(1):75-85. DOI: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0385. PMID: 9973590.
- Schubert MM, Sabapathy S, Leveritt M, Desbrow B. Acute exercise and hormones related to appetite regulation: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014 Mar;44(3):387-403. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-013-0120-3. PMID: 24174308.
- Davy BM, Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Wilson KL, Davy KP. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul;108(7):1236-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.013. PMID: 18589036; PMCID: PMC2743119.
- Blom WA, Lluch A, Stafleu A, Vinoy S, Holst JJ, Schaafsma G, Hendriks HF. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.2.211. PMID: 16469977.