Fat Sundays: The Good and The Bad
First off, who doesn’t love a fat, lounging, lazy Sunday. It is the absolute best thing about being a human…to sleep in, go out for breakfast, lounge, Netflix and chill, eat more, it’s pure bliss. However, unfortunately sometimes the good times need to be cut short or at least modified if you have body composition goals in place. So here are my thoughts on a fat Sunday and whether or not it should be cut out completely from your weekly routine, or if it’s safe to stay.
How much food energy/calories each person consumes, and can get away with, is unique and varies from person to person based on what their current body composition is made of. For example: a person’s height, weight, lean muscle mass (how much muscle is the person carrying), and body fat %. If someone has a high body fat % and low muscle mass, then they won’t be able to get away with as many empty or “crap calories” as someone who has a high lean muscle mass and a low body fat %. What our body is made out of can tell us a lot about how glucose/insulin sensitive or resistant you are i.e. how effective your body is at utilizing insulin and burning glucose, and how slow your metabolism is. If you are carrying a high amount of body fat then you are basically holding onto a lot of energy/calories…because body fat is extra energy that is stored for later. The less body fat you have and the more muscle you pack onto your body, the higher your metabolism is going to be, and the better you are at utilizing food energy and burning it off. Since the leaner person does not have as many stored calories as fat for the body to tap into, the person needs to feed themselves more often. Their metabolism will be telling them to do this throughout the day by hunger signals.
Why is this important? Because if you are lean, i.e. low body fat % and high lean muscle mass, then you can get away with a heftier fat Sunday. In fact, depending on your level of fitness, the lean and fit person may actually benefit from a fat Sunday. The extra calories, fats, and carbs may replenish their glycogen stores and actually help them put on more muscle therefore creating an even more efficient metabolism. On the flip side, if your body fat % is high and your lean muscle mass is low, then fat Sundays are NOT going to do your body composition any good. This is why it’s important to stress how much your current body composition affects what you can eat and get away with.
For example: If your bestie has a high body fat to lean muscle mass ratio, then he/she will not be able to eat the same cheat meal as you if your body fat to muscle mass ratio was low. Your friend will not burn it off as efficiently as you, so overtime this type of behaviour over and over again can really add up and pack on body fat. At the end of the day, if your metabolism is slow but you are crushing high calorie cheat foods and alcohol then this is going to cause you some bodily harm.
The biggest benefit towards a fat Sunday is the mental break it can give, especially if you are being very diligent on your diet and exercise during the week. You should always aim to “win the week” as Tony Horton says, so if you are absolutely murdering your exercise routine 4-6 days out of the week, and are on top of your meals 6 days a week, then a “Sunday Funday” should not devastate your goals. In fact, it may provide a nice mental release from your schedule and it can provide more balance to your life.
A Sunday may not be seen as a cheat day, but it can be a “refeed day” where you essentially eat healthy, whole foods that are not entirely on your plan.
Let me run you through what I believe would make a perfect “Fat Sunday” i.e. refeed day, without totally blowing it:
- Breakfast: Say you normally have eggs and toast for breakfast, but today you went out for breakfast and had an omelette with some potatoes and a few pieces of good sourced bacon. Also, a mimosa or a Caesar.
- Lunch: Instead of your typical chicken salad with olive oil dressing, today you went out for lunch to a Greek restaurant and had a chicken salad with feta cheese and 1 pita with Tzatziki on the side.
- Coffee/Snack: Instead of your normal coffee, today you choose a low calorie, low sugar blended coffee drink for a treat. My absolute favourite is the Coffee Glacier from Red Bulb Espresso Café. I order half sweet, almond milk, no whip. It’s refreshing and they use real espresso, so it’s just ice, almond milk, espresso, and vanilla powder. I would also have a biscotti or a small cookie on the side.
- Dinner: Instead of a vegetable and beef stir-fry with rice, instead you opt for a small whole what beef burrito or a 1/2C cooked homemade pasta with Bolognese and veggies. Or maybe you go out for a steak dinner with potato and vegetables. You can enjoy wine or 1 alcoholic drink on the side with dinner.
- Dessert/Snack: Maybe there has been something you’ve been really craving, a small ice-cream, gelato, a donut. Share the portion or have a smaller portion to yourself. Satisfy that craving with moderation. If you want ice-cream, try to pick gelato or a low cal/low sugar frozen yogurt instead. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t pick the heftiest most gluttonous dessert straight out of your wildest dreams just because its Sunday. Be moderate and mindful with your cravings, sugar is a drug and can play tricks on your brain easily. Don’t undermine its addictive power!!
- Alternatives: Going out to the movies you can share a small popcorn, and when they ask if you want extra butter…do not. Split a small pack of candy and a diet pop or a water.
I mean, personally I think that’s a pretty legit day of eating. If you are someone who is looking to lose weight and you look at that and think, “that looks like the biggest crock of shit and the most pathetic Fat Sunday I’ve ever seen in my life,” then you are doing fat Sunday wrong. The food and meals I have listed are not deep fried, not baked and/or coated in chemicals and preservatives (maybe the movie day), but they are more elaborate and delicious versions and takes on what you are currently eating. Trying out new restaurant spots, watching the food network, experimenting with foods and flavours and seasonings will make you appreciate food for the nutrition it brings, vs. the endorphin boosting euphoria a food binge can cause. Fat Sunday should be about eating rich, whole, and fresh…not dirty. OBVIOUSLY we are going to get down and grimy from time to time, but if you have goals to accomplish this cannot be a routine thing.
The only undisputed benefit towards a fat Sunday is the mental break, the switch up in foods so the body is digesting something new and reaping different vitamins and minerals, and it can re-ignite motivation for your week ahead.
The worst thing that can happen is you go overboard, the fat Sundays become glutinous, and the bingeing and cheating on Sunday has your gut and digestive system wrecked for the following few days. You know it was a bad cheat day and not beneficial when you are feeling heavy and bloated the next day or two. Your cheat day should not be felt the next day, and it ESPECIALLY should never be an excuse for why you could not get back on your routine. If you want to play hard, you need to work hard too. I HATE hearing, “oh I had my period so I sat on my ass and ate a lot of food,” or, “I went out with my friends and just haven’t had a chance to recover, i’m too tired to prep, or exercise. ” If this is the case, you will never get anywhere with your weight loss or body composition goals because you are constantly satisfying the selfish wants and needs of the small child buried deep inside you. Always celebrating and diving into quick satisfactions, but with an underlying tone of disappointment because the little satisfactions lead you further away from the big goal. Instead of putting up with the small sacrifices in order to experience the much bigger prize, they focus on quick fixes to make them feel better…like a fat Sunday. Over time when fat Sundays start to become an excuse and a way to comfort the person, the quick fixes become wrapped up with a way to justify the derailment. Such as, “I like my body the way it is, I’m happy and content with myself. I like how I spend my weekends, and that is more important to me than my body composition. I don’t want to feel restricted in my life because I get anxious with the pressure I put on myself, and then I always end of quitting anyways.” This message, at least along the same lines, i’ve heard countless times from different people. Which is totally fine…when someone says that to you it’s basically saying “back off, don’t push me, i’m having a hard time with the process and I was not prepared mentally to change like I thought I was.” I know this because if someone approaches you 4-8 weeks prior exclaiming how much they want to change, how sick of themselves they are, how they will work hard and do everything possible to reach their goal, they will pay money to make a plan of action for them….you have to know it’s not because they suddenly had an epiphony and their life purpose has made a radical shift in the opposite direction.
I know the people who exclaim this will always be trying to lose weight on a deeper, more obsessive level. They’ve retreated back into their comfort zone, instead of pushing and fighting through the hard times. They will secretly pick up and try different fad diets, without ever admitting to themselves they are beating around the bush and avoiding the actual hard work that needs to be done. They will constantly search for a different approach to what scientifically works. They had a hard time with the process, they found it upsetting, challenging to the core, and unfair. It was hard hard to stay positive, it was easy to grow impatient, and its easy to succumb to victim mentality and listen to other people validating your new beliefs and why your old plan was stupid and will never work. They will likely attempt to go vegan because a holistic nutritionist told them meat is making them fat and sick, despite looking at the break down of the greater , grander picture of their every single day meal to meal, exercise to exercise lifestyle choices.They will try to lose weight forever, thinking about it most seconds of the day and are obsessive about it.
The biggest issue with going overboard on the weekends is that the negative affects don’t just stop on that day. If you are choosing terrible, crap food options filled with preservatives, trans fats, etc. then you will not only feel the negative affects psychologically, but also within your digestive tract for the following few days. A bad cheat day can spiral into the week days, who knows you may not feel 100% again until Thursday or Friday. Then what happens…thirsty Thursdays? TGIF? Here it goes again, another tough week in the books and it’s back to wrecking the body again via fat Sundays. Your weekends are sabotaging your week day routine, and soon the fat Sundays slowly win the battle of the bod. Overtime, your caloric input outweighs your output because your weekly exercise and diet are so thrown off. This spiral happens ALL THE TIME, it is VERY subtle and sneaky and before you know it…your caught in it. One drunken weekend will affect your next week, nip it in the butt and get your shit together pronto. If you are feeling really crappy…too bad. You made your choices, now you are going to wake up and deal with those choices the next day.
If you want an epic fat Sunday, then you are going to have to earn it. If you have a lot of body fat to lose and you are not currently weight training, then your fat Sundays are going to need to be monitored and controlled. I would recommend in this case to do something active, like a boot camp i.e. my boot camp every Sunday 11am or 2pm (shameless plug), or active yoga, or hike. Be active, the eat whole foods. If you are lean and on top of your exercise and meal plan game, then your fat Sundays will be granted more freedom. If you have a goal, like a bikini goal, you need to be mindful with your fat Sundays. If you don’t have a goal, then f**k it…ya know?
Have a fat Sunday, but be responsible and do not go into your Sunday with a victim, “I deserve it,” mentality. Do not sit and eat and chill if you did absolutely nothing to deserve it. You need to work hard, be hard on yourself, and be patient. Yes, be hard on yourself…if you want serious change then it’s not going to always be a walk in the park. Don’t let your fat Sundays ruin your goals by going overboard, be mindful and moderate then get ready to kill the week ahead.
UNRELATED SIDE RANT:
No offence to Holsitic Nutritonists’, but I haven’t heard of one lately that has offered different advice other than “cut out meat”. Is that the only thing being taught now in schools? I want an explanation. I want a MASSIVE long-term study with a large sample population, bias control, placebos, and observations with specific hormonal and gut health testing over a two year period. I want to read a study, that is 100% backed by actual scientists with degrees, masters, and other research papers with their names on it who have dedicated their lives as scientists since high school. I don’t want someone who jumped on the recent health wagon due to IG, watched netflix, read a pop sugar article, then received a weekend course to tell me to cut out meat. Are people just grasping at straws jumping on what they think everyone else is recommending? Without any background research on how humanity has survived until…now? Am I the only one that sees the correlation between the pretty, hippy, kumbaya, marketing of a vegan lifestyle on IG and then the amount of people suddenly embracing veganism as scientifically superior? They hear one thing, watch one documentary, and jump on the boat because you are a cool person in society if you are vegan. You’re cool, you’re trendy, you’re in in the group. Sure, there’s an incredibly biased and frequently disproved documentary on Netflix exposing the deathly affects the meat industry has caused and why veganism is the holy grail of health. I just have a hard time seeing past the correlation between the surge of vegan lifestyle photography on IG, and then the sudden avalanche of “scientific facts” that PROVE cutting out meat is the way to go, FOR EVERYONE! I started to become rattled about it when in just 5 short weeks, I heard 4 different people tell me their holistic nutritonist told them their gut doesn’t digest meat and they need to be vegan now. Come on…all 4 of them? 4 different holisitic nutritionists? All giving the same advice? To 4 different people, with totally different body compositions…all 4 need the same thing. PUH-lease. I see you, and I see through you. I eat meat from a local butcher, and have never had any issues. Its more likely the wine drinking, shit food consumed time to time, and very minimal lean muscle mass with a higher body fat % that is causing the issues…not a piece of chicken breast. PS. if you are sitting there thinking theres a girl/guy I follow on IG that competes and their have tons of muscle and are super shredded, strong and fit…don’t be so naive, they are taking stuff. Ah duhh.