Let’s talk 3 day diets
It’s time to take the three day outlook on your diet. I’m not talking about a three day crash diet, or cleanse, or something else, but evaluating where you stand on your diet in three day spurts, instead of by meal, day, or week.
There’s a diet out there that scares me. A family member (cough…um, sorry bout this) of mine is doing something called the Apple Diet. Effectively, if you feel you’ve eaten too much one day, the next day the only thing you eat is 5 apples. This kind of correction is touted as correcting for the calories you ate the day before and balancing it out.
Which is good, in theory, because the only weight loss plan that works is calories in v. calories out. It’s certainly simple enough to keep track of, instead of those insanely complicated points systems, and hey, an apple a day, and all that, right?
My issue with daily course corrections is that it becomes difficult to control cravings, willpower, and becomes too easy to over correct. Let’s break it down.
When you’re on the downswing of this apple diet, you’re eating 5 apples in a day. Let’s assume that’s roughly 500 calories, depending on the type and size of the apple. This is not enough calories for an adult in a day, obviously. And yes, you did eat a lot the day before, but I find it hard to believe you nearly doubled your daily caloric intake. Even if you did, you’re used to eating 2,000~ calories in a day, and your body is hardwired to keep what’s happening happening. We get all sorts of chemical released when we eat, because we’re hardwired to think replenishing our energy stores is good. Which leads us to:
A diet, by definition, is something your brain wants to avoid. Biologically, we’re hardwired to eat as much as we can and generate as much energy stores as possible. So on this 5 apple day, you’re going to be sitting there with an empty stomach growling at you, and your mind will be focused on this idea that “this is all I deserve to eat today” to try and combat this biological impulse. Right off the bat, you’re selling this to yourself as a punishment, an obstacle, something to endure, which means you’ll be looking for a reward the next day. It’s that mental positioning that needs to change, or else you’re liable to over eat the next day, and the cycle starts again. You’re selling this diet as a negative experience, instead of as a positive change, WHICH IT SHOULD BE.
In order to diet without this major over correction, you need to take a step back, and take an average of a few days at a time. This way, that one cupcake, or extra beer, or burger with a large fry will affect your diet less. And quite frankly, when you look at your entire life, you’ll never regret that single meal. Expanding to a three day period will let you mitigate the damage done on a trip, a busy weekend, a cheat day, or whatever came up to screw up your diet plans. That doughnut you couldn’t help in the course of a three hour staff meeting isn’t a day ruiner, it’s just a small hiccup on your three day plan.
You don’t need to do it this micro, but let’s take an example, on a 2,000 calorie a day experience. This gives you 6,000 calories to work with.
Breakfast: 250 calories (bagel, or cereal, fruit, etc. Lots of water)
Lunch: 500 calories (sandwich and coke, or burger and salad, etc)
Snack: 250 calories (bag of chips, or better yet, carrots/celery and peanut butter)
Dinner/drinks: 1,200 calories (Well, I know I’m going out, when when I do, I usually can’t stop myself and I order an app, too).
Brunch: 700 calories (well, I know we’re going out for brunch with friends, I usually do OK here, but still.)
Lunch: 200 calories (Just a late afternoon snack, because I know we’ve got the bar tonight and I’m still really full)
Dinner: 1150 calories (we drank some this morning, and last night, so I don’t want to go out too late)
Breakfast: 250 calories
Lunch: 500 calories
Dinner: 1,000 calories (gotta get prepped for that monday, so big meal!)
And this is a weekend, which is the rougher one to plan for. I recommend breaking the weekend up into Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, to give yourself a little breathing room there. As long as you keep Tuesday in check, you should be fine week to week. Play with the numbers so it works for you, and when you’re hungry.