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4 Simple Fat-Burning Strategies to Bounce Back After A Binge

Posted by | February 05, 2013 | Fat-Burning Tips, Featured | 35 Comments

Abel Versus Cheesecake

You ate too much. Way too much.

“That cheesecake looks. so. good… just… just a little morsel.. to see if it tastes good. hmm. oh, it does taste good. I guess a slice won’t hurt… here it goes down. down into my belly…

Oops. I just ate the whole thing!”

…We’ve all been there.

The ability to recover quickly after a binge is absolutely essential to success in building and maintaining a healthy body (and mind). And once you realize that an occasional binge isn’t the end of the world, you can even use the extra energy to your advantage.

Using these strategies, I limited weight gain to just 2 pounds after (…accidentally) eating like a pig for a 7-day cruise with luxurious desserts that often followed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was easily downing 4000-5000 calories a day for a week straight. But the 2 pounds I gained were gone in a day. And just one week after I stepped off the boat, we took this picture:

Abel James Post-Cruise

How? I used the excess energy (carbs, mostly) to refill my glycogen stores and fuel some absolutely killer workouts.

But – more importantly, I went back to my normal healthy eating plan the second I stepped off the boat. And after a full week of binging on desserts, I was glad to have a salad-fest when I returned home. Kale never tasted so swell.

And before you say, “But Abel has perfect genetics and that’s why he can get away with eating like a pig!” remember that I was fat, sick, and broken in my early 20’s. My before picture below is what a calorie-restricted, low-fat, veggie heavy diet combined with 20-30 miles of running a week looks like…

Low-Fat vs. High Fat

I like my after picture better. But, more importantly, my health has improved more than any of my (ex) doctors would have believed. I feel better, and that’s why I eat and live this way.

Important note: don’t let any of this encourage binging. As Spider Man’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” These techniques should not be habits but strategic emergency measures for mitigating the negative effects a temporary divergence.

4 Tips to Bounce Back After a Binge

Firstly, understand that overeating every now and again can actually upregulate certain hormones (like leptin) that keep your metabolism working properly, especially if you’ve been restricting your food intake.

Secondly, ditch the guilt. Reflect on why it happened, enjoy the moment, accept it as a temporary divergence, and move on. No one will remember or care that you ate a cupcake. You can’t change the past, but you can influence your future. Here’s how:

  • Manage your false hunger: During the 24 hours following a binge, your blood sugar will fluctuate wildly. This will cause false hunger and a powerful desire to eat more sugar and/or carbs. Don’t. Sip on some black coffee. Go for a walk. Do meaningful work. Just keep yourself busy and forget about food.
  • Fast: If fasting is in your wheelhouse, do it. And it’s also a super effective way to negate any extra caloric effects from the overeating as well as shed the extra water weight (and bloating) that accompanies a carb-fest. It doesn’t need to be an extended fast, either – a skipped meal or compressed eating window might just do the trick.
  • Engage in high-intensity exercise: Get out to a field or track and do some wind sprints. Hop in the weight room and lift like a maniac. Jump into a vigorous game of pickup basketball. Do anything to get your heart rate up and have fun. You’ll have a ton of energy to put in a solid workout. Use all that glycogen to your advantage!
  • Resume normal eating habits: This is the fastest way to get back to a ‘happy place’ and leave the binge in the rearview. Don’t sweat it. Just move on. And if inspecting yourself in the mirror causes issues, don’t look in the mirror. It’s simple. As long as your long-term habits are dialed-in, you’ll be back in action in no time.

You Don’t Have to be Perfect

So if you drop the ball and polish off a slice of your boss’ birthday cake, it is fine and even expected from time to time. We’re all human.

That said, if you’re not consistently sticking to healthy habits, make sure you aren’t making excuses. Genetics are not an excuse. The past is not an excuse. Your present condition is not an excuse. You can either make excuses or get results, but you can’t do both.

If you indulge regularly, it’s not really indulging anymore – it’s just poor decision-making and a lack of commitment to success. Make great decisions the majority of the time and you’ll be able to afford the occasional hiccup.

Being lean isn’t about being 100% perfect all of the time. It’s not what you eat from meal-to-meal. It’s how you live your life. Once you know how to avoid binges but handle (as well as enjoy) indulgences when they occur, you can be lean, healthy, and happy. Never give up!

So what do you guys do when you “accidentally” eat a slice of cheesecake?


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  • Great article, it must have been hell experimenting with all that eating!! Ha ha… I think you’re right, when you fall of the wagon it’s so important to not view it as defeat. Every journey has a bump in the road, all you need to do is negate the effects the best you can and then carry on with your journey. Better still, plan your bump in the road and you can even build muscle in response your cheese cake binge. Win-win

  • Liz says:

    Eating a cupcake or slice of cheesecake is not a binge for me. I wish it was. A binge is usually thousands of calories of several pcs of cheesecake AND cupcakeS.

  • Liz says:

    Good suggestions though! Thanks for posting this. I will keep these things in mind.

  • Andrew Cunningham says:

    Me and the Mrs like to go to a movie and we get popcorn. But never go back for seconds and I get unsweetened tea to drink. We eat it and move on. I don’t seem to gain weight from it and it use to make me pee out the back end, but that doesn’t happen anymore. So I think some popcorn once a month if that is not so bad.

  • Jonas says:

    Just out of interest – how often is it ‘exusable’ to have a feast? Many of us seem to have a cheat day per week. Is that too often — and how much of a treat should you allow yourself?

    • Abel James says:

      Hey Jonas, it really depends on your body / your metabolism / training regimen / etc., but a feast once a week or two should be acceptable and welcomed, especially if you cycle overeating days with undereating days.

  • Cliffy D says:

    I do the fasting thing. Which ill be doing tomorrow since I pigged out this weekend. (I needed it for my dietary sanity. Everything in moderation. Even moderation)

    I took the idea from the HCG protocol. It’s called a “steak day”. Don’t eat anything all day. Moderate exercise is a bonus. Drink TONS of water.
    That night, get yourself a monster steak and an apple. Thats it.
    Get plenty of sleep.
    Typically you’ll wake up.
    Pee for 2 minutes straight.
    Bam! Back to weight.
    Resume normal healthy life.

  • Emma says:

    Your post is well timed. My recent binge has been ice-cream for breakfast on and off for the past four weeks, lots of nut butter and to top it off, cakes and sweets – I have been struggling to get back off of the sugar and although I know the consequences of weight gain, water retention and it killing my mood, I haven’t seemed to be able to get off this roller-coaster. However, even before reading your post today, I promised myself that today is the day to stop this ride. Screw the guilt! Here’s to feeling well again. Thanks for the tips!

    PS – I so want to try the steak day just to see what a two min pee is like.

  • Luke DeKneef says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled across this article. Honestly I have been on a great streak and was almost finish with a fitness challenge when all of a sudden durung the last week I don’t know what came over me. I broke, gave in and indulged in a whole bunch of junk. Chocolate,, muffins, overdoses on candies & my favorite PB, eating when I’m not hungry and watching all my hard work get smudged away. I kept telling myself oh i have a high metabolism, im at 4%bf what harm can it do. but there is a difference when you binge in a day versus a week and you can totally see and feel the fat slowly creeping on your core. I kept looking at myself in the mirror and realizing how fast you can ruin your progress. But you open my mind to create a positive mindset. I can’t feel down or depressed. Instead I like how you put it all into a way of improving and doing better. Learn from your mistakes and just carry on. Thank you for this. I greatly appreciate your words and knowledge.

    • Emily Dewey says:

      Don’t beat yourself up about it! It’s definitely important to keep a positive mindset when it comes to food, it’s not the enemy (even chocolate, muffins & candies). Hope you were able to bounce back and not give it a second thought! :) – Emily, FBM Team Coach

  • Eric Swanson says:

    I’ve been experimenting with fasting over the past month or so. It has made a world of difference. I tried a weekly 24-hour fast and moved to a daily 16-hour. I eat clean most of the time and try to stay at least gluten free.
    Thanks for the tips, these are great!

  • marie says:

    Thank you for this post, I was following keto for the last week after a 4 day water fast but today I binged on thousands of cals, I couldn’t stop thinking of carbs yesterday. I know myself well enough to know it was coming, I have 10 days until my 21st and really want my bloatedness to go and flat stomach to return. I’m going to fast for 36hrs+ and do an immense workout tomorrow, then back on with Keto. Do you think I should do an extended fast, I want to work out but doing a 10 day fast may get me closer to my goal quicker. Any thoughts?

    • Emily Dewey says:

      Binging and restricting are equal and opposite reactions to each other. By fasting again, you are almost guaranteeing another binge. I HIGHLY recommend you reign in your concept of healthy eating and find a BALANCED and sustainable method of eating on a regular basis. THAT is what creates extensive but long-term change and habits. Please think twice about this fast you are considering! – Emily, FBM Team

  • Shan says:

    Thanks! What a great article! I binge on fruits last night. Around 2 kilos of longan. I feel sad. Then after ready this article, I felt better.

  • Chia says:

    Thanks for this very inspiring post!
    It’s funny every time I’m binging like crazy on “bad ” food (glutenized pastries sodas or dairy), I’m starting an endless research online on tips… and I always land to your blog.
    My big problem is that I’m obsessed by eating healthy food, being fit so everytime Im emotionally outofcontrol I binge on banned food and then start this vicious cercle of guiltiness. The worst part is that I’m not losing weight anymore.
    I think the best advice then would be to just forget about the previous episode and get back on eating healthy..
    ps: I sent an email to join your program.


  • sal says:

    I’m so happy I found this article.
    I had bubs 7 months ago, have lost 28 kg but still have 6 to go to goal weight. Yesterday had a binge dinner/dessert so decided to do a 24 hr fast and hopefully training sess later. Was still feeling guilty despite fasting until I saw this. So desperate to achieve my goal. Im glad im not the only one who can ‘fail’ sometimes. I can potentially get even better results. Feeling inspired. :)

  • Felicia says:

    This was written in 2013, and I am just now reading it?!?!?! I should have read this when it was first written, I could have saved a lot of time feeling guilty. Often times we see people who are dedicated to their regime, and think that they NEVER have a hiccup, almost as if they are not human haha!
    My birthday was yesterday, obviously, I woke up feeling totally guilty about the amazing food I indulged in last night. I felt so discouraged, and of course went on a Google search to figure out what I should do today about yesterday, and after reading this article, I feel much better about tomorrow. Everyone slips up, move forward, don’t plant your feet in the ground and cry about it!

  • Chuck says:

    Hi… This seems all too familiar! I have experienced a few years of this on and off behaviour. A cheat day, a cheat weekend, a cheat week, a cheat month!

    All since I actually got in shape!! Before I didn’t care so I never binged I just ate rubbish and ate over my calories and was just plain old fat. I got in shape learnt about the correct nutrion and bang binge cravings landed!

    I would say I am not so bad anymore as I am learning to fit foods I enjoy eating in my weekly caloric requirements. But I am still very susceptible to going crazy once ins while. But let me say this I have always got back to where I was or even better no matter how bad you feel! It can be absolutely destroying to those that care about the physical health and well being and lets face it, how they look? But articles like these pop up and just automatically let you know it’s never over until you decide.. Just keep that train moving!! Nothing is impossible to the brave and faithful!!

  • Tim says:

    Love the advice. I just got back from a vacation where I added 11 pounds in 11 days. Thanks to cheese curds, lots of pizza, zero exercise (by design really, I just wanted to relax) and LOADS of craft beers. I considered some juice cleanses, but I think I’ll go more of the natural route and do a lot of green salads and veggies combined with normal strenuous exercise.

  • Arabgirl says:


  • Lauren says:

    I start the week of mentally strong and determined to be healthy. I do very well and stay well on Track. I finally start to feel good about myself. All of a sudden I get this overpowering unstoppable craving for sweet food, I then binge massive amounts of junk, to then be left feeling extremely low and depressed. I try my absolute hardest to recover from this the next day, however no matter what I do, or say to myself I seem to be in this destructive cycle. I want to maintain a good body, need help to change my mindset. Many thanks.

  • Kim says:

    Hi, I’m facing the same problem as Lauren above. How do you keep it consistent?

  • Mary says:

    My god, seriously! I’m kind of like in love with baking, but here’s the setback! Just one piece of angel food cake or chocolate fudge (both made on the same day, btw) gets me reaching out for another and then another because I feel like I’ve already over-done it, so might as well slip another piece in! It stinks and I feel like killing myself later on! I forgave my conscience the first day, but the second day, I just couldn’t stand my poor willpower! I hate having to wait TWO whole days later on for getting back to my regular slim figure!
    Guess I’m just gonna go do some ab and arm toning workouts from youtube now! Your article really helped me! Comforted me that I’m not the only pig around! And dammit, I’m wasn’t even HUNGRY!

  • Alicia ortiz says:

    During my efforts of trying to become fit these past few months I’ve been good at staying away from “crap” I even count my calories. I do have my cheat days though where I allow myself to either eat what I want even if it’s pizza or a piece of chocolate brownie while staying within my calorie goal for the day (1300-1600) or I break my calorie count and eat as many calories as I want but only eating healthy foods and snacks. That’s what I did this past sat! I ate healthy foods only, for breakfast I ate granola protein cereal and a banana. A couple hours later I had an egg whites sandwich. For lunch I had a brown rice salad with dried fruits and nuts and about three tablespoons of peanut butter with carrots to dip. Then I had a protein shake, oh wait two protein shakes haha about 200 calories each. Around dinner time I had two meal bars oh god I don’t know what was going on with me but I ate a ton for dinner, I went crazy! Spaghetti, a turkey sandwich, I even ate a little bit of ice cream haha. I tracked my calories for the day and calculated about 5000 calories that day! I had never done that before my journey started! So the day after my huge binge, I decided to fast, only drinking tea and a protein shake for breakfast to fuel my workout that morning. I only drank wAter and had a sip of apple juice. My fasting didn’t end until 2pm the next day, I ate a turkey sandwich with wheat bread and Greek yogurt. My fasting would’ve lasted longer but is that recommended? to fast more than 24hrs? Also what would you say is the best post fasting meal? And how many calories should it be? I try to eat 200-400kcal meals every 3-4 hrs. Should I keep it that way on my first meal post fasting? Also during a fasting day, should I be working out vigorously or should I keep it on the treadmill and save the weights for a non-fasting day? Thank you. This post is very helpful btw! I was very upset at myself for binging like I did :( I couldn’t stop thinking about my wasted efforts so thanks!

  • Sally says:

    Hi Everyone,

    For me, binge eating is an emotional matter. When I am happy and all going fine with me at all levels, I stay on my healthy eating and I hit the gym regularly. Once I stayed 6 months without binge easting, and I felt proud of myself. But recently it became every 2 months, where I binge two days on a row (preferably weekdays) because in weekends I will eat double, so I even plan my binge eating. Oh yeah, the feeling of bloating and guilty is over whelming, especially when I start trying my jeans to check if they still fit. I think it is all psychological because I start convincing myself that I gained weight thought in fact it is only water retention. For some emotional reason, I binge ate after 11 days of healthy eating and gym because there was a previous binge eating 11 days ago, but I was back to my healthy eating and I exercised a lot for the bloating to go along with drinking water a lot. Now, I felt guilty because why I binge eating another time after 11 days eating healthy. Maybe because I read an article that binge eating for one day will never make you gain weight; you need to eat an extra 3,500 calories in addition to your daily normal intake in order to gain one pound. Now, and today I am back from yesterday`s binge eating, and today is healthy eating and gym for 4-5 days per week with lots of drinking water to remove the water retention. Thanks for hearing me.

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