A healthy diet is one that will help you to lose weight, as long as your portions are moderate and your meals are low-fat, low in calories and give you a good balance between proteins, good carbohydrates and vegetables. But sometimes we can’t always stick to our perfectly structured diet plans, because we don’t always eat at home.
Maybe you’ve been invited to a big barbecue, or it’s the holidays and you know your mother is going to feed you until you pop. Maybe your buddies have invited you over to get drunk, play Xbox and eat chicken fingers – these things happen. However, a good healthy eater will know how to manage this kind of thing, and keep their overall calorie intake at a reasonable level.
What is Calorie Banking?
Calorie banking is simply a mentality that some people allow themselves to slip into when they know they have a big feast coming up. If you know you’ve been invited to the Xbox and chicken fingers event, you can technically compensate by reducing your calorie intake for a few days before the event. A lot of people use this as a strategy to avoid weight gain over the holidays.
Why it doesn’t really work
Calorie banking is a little bit like trying to bank up sleep – even if you sleep for 18 hours one night, you’re probably only going to get about 2 or 3 hours more mileage out of yourself the next day. Your body needs calories, so if you deprive it of them it’ll go into starvation mode. This isn’t good.
The main reason why calorie banking isn’t a good dieting strategy is that it teaches your body that it’s going to have several lean days followed by a big feast. Your body tries to be clever by stashing away as much stored fat as possible when you do feed it, making it harder to lose weight even though you’re practically starving.
You’ll feel tired, lethargic and miserable, and you won’t be losing any weight.
When it’s okay to bank calories
It does make sense if you do it occasionally, and you still try to eat in moderation, and don’t try to cancel out all the calories you’ll eat. Indulgence is important in maintaining any diet, so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself all the time. Try to offset 2/3rds of the calories, so if you budget an additional 1,500 calories on Chicken Finger Saturday, eat 500 calories less on Thursday and Friday.
(So, for example follow the 1,500 calorie diet plan for two days)
If you can do this, and still keep your portions at the barbecue to reasonable sizes, and stick to things like diet sodas you should be able to use calorie banking as a way of offsetting a meal you can’t control, and not as an excuse to cheat.