Caloric Excess, Caloric Deficit Pt. 1

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Where there's the Yin, there must be the Yang

Just returned from a 10-day cruise surrounded by friends, family, activities… and unlimited access to food, aggressively flavored and insanely tasty, and predictably comprised of cheap calories like refined wheat and starches.

Damn, it was awesome.

Of course, we managed to find wholesome food like vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed meats. But what’s the fun in just those items while on a cruise ship? Although we ate wholesome nutrients, I’d be lying if we didn’t consume a fair share of low-quality but extremely flavorful stuff.

Lots of it.

But no matter. The first half of the trip I maintained the intermittent fasting lifestyle and preserved visually the same body composition; but halfway through I decided to do a simple experiment of one that would extend past the end of the cruise.

Halfway through I decided to just smash it. I ate whatever, whenever, and however. I forced myself to overeat all kinds of food — wholefood, refined starches, sugar, snacks… round the clock.

The first couple of days of gluttony were fun, but I quickly felt like shit, and food craving went up. I became bloated and the muscular definitions slowly disappeared. No doubt most of this was increased glycogen storage and water retention, but without a reversal in the trend, it’s a sure a path to overweight and obesity.

What is this simple experiment of one?

To maintain body weight and body composition, a caloric excess must be followed by a caloric deficit. I wanted to see what happens if I follow a stretch of overeating by a period of under-eating. A yin-yang eating pattern.

Now that the cruise (and thus the caloric excess) is over, the caloric deficit begins. It’s time to “turn off the valve.”

I decided that for each of the next 3 days I’ll just eat one meal per day. I’ll eat until I’m satisfactorily full — maybe even silly-full — and then no more. This essentially causes a tolerable caloric deficit.

After the 3 days of extended IF, I’ll return to the normal daily intermittent fasting, and then reassess my body weight and composition to see if I need to add a couple more days.

Today was the first day of eating just one meal. I basically fasted 23 hours, and ate a rather large meal to complete satisfaction. As I send off this update post, I’m happily full, yet I’ve created a caloric deficit through the extended IF.

I’ll keep updating you with this simple little experiment, the point of which being: where there’s a caloric excess, there must be a caloric deficit.

This is based on the classic theory of feast and famine, the macro version of the daily intermittent fasting from which I’ve benefited for nearly 2 years.

Stay tuned.

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21 Responses to Caloric Excess, Caloric Deficit Pt. 1

  1. Mark says:

    Good post Johnny. Happy to hear that you had a good time on your cruise. I’m curious to see how the rebound goes. Any pictures taken while in your “overfed” state? It would be interesting to see how a small period of overfeeding can affect appearance and then how subsequent underfeeding can fix it. I think a lot of people will benefit from this as it’s easy to get discouraged after indulging a little bit and not liking what you see that night or even the next day. Overall though, I think it’s important to remember that you can have fun here and there, as long as you balance it with a little underfeeding afterwards. I like your idea and I may implement it on the days that I’m not lifting or doing Krav Maga class. Thank you as always.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mark,

      Unfortunately, no pictures with my shirt off. I’m still somewhat smooth, both jiggly and fat. Maybe I’ll take a picture later when I get home. The most important thing that I’m trying to show is: don’t get discouraged just because you fall into a stretch of overfeeding.


  2. Jordan D. says:

    Well, I’ve had my own little “cruise” for the last two and a half weeks or so, but right in my own home! lol. After dieting pretty hard for about five months, I decided to take a break. Yeah, it hasn’t been pretty. I’m probably about 5 pounds heavier now, although it’s fluctuating quite a bit, so it’s hard to say. Of course a lot of that is water weight and stomach contents, and I was probably pretty dried out at 193-4, after a whole month of eating one meal per day. But I’ve probably put on at least a couple of pounds of real fat.

    I’m starting to regain control, but it’s been difficult. I’ll tell myself, “Now is the day to start eating less again,” but I’ll go right back to eating too much. I find that dieting is pretty easy, but *starting* the diet is difficult. I’m pretty good at breaking habits, both good and bad! It looks like you’re not going to have a problem though. 🙂

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Jordan,

      I agree — the hardest part is to start, for the first time or for the hundredth. My best advice is to just make the decision to start, and start.


  3. Nic says:

    What time of day are you consuming your one meal? I have done this before and tried to wait until around 8pm a la The Warrior Diet, but now wondering if a 6 pm meal would be easier and leave more time for digestion before bedtime.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Nic,

      I’m actually starting around 8pm. This start time makes it easier for me to not be tempted to eat something later, whereas the earlier feed time leaves a lot of time to be tempted. But, in the end, I don’t worry about when I eat the single meal — it’s pretty easy when you mentally “turn off the valve.”


  4. lolo says:

    you have it easy. Tentation is over, back to normal. But what if people around you eat like – sht- non stop, all the time? (ice cream, cookies, cake, pizza, pasta, candy, you name it) In this “toxic” environment i have been able to eat one meal per day (animal products, meat, cheese,cream,butter) and fast for 23 hrs for over a year, with no problem, maintaining a lean and muscular body with minimum exercise. ( used to do ADF) That is until recently… I started to add a little milk to my diet ( dessert, i was feeling lethargic) then one big potato here and there on my workout days. Then one day i also decided to just smash it. Joined the party. In less than a month i went from 64kg to 71 kg, my current weight… I can still see my abs, there are definitively there, and im still muscular, im just carrying a lot more fat (in my ass? hope not) so im confident that you are going to go back to normal with no problem. Me? im not to sure. btw, what kind of carbs do you eat? i feel that is my main problem (no veggies, no refined crap, no fruit,) thanks, btw sorry for my lame English

    • Johnny says:

      Hi lolo,

      I’ll admit that losing weight and staying lean is not easy… but the method to get there is simple. Intermittent fasting.

      There will always be food around me, and there will always be people who eat calorie-dense food around me. This makes a weight-loss diet challenging, but I can’t always blame the environment and other people, otherwise I’ll always be overweight. At one point, I’ve learned that the accountability is mine to eat less — which is the only way to lose weight or fat.

      The method of intermittent fasting helps me avoid the dietary rut that can be created by our food environment and the dietary habit of people around me.

      Hopes this helps,

      • lolo says:

        “this makes a weight-loss diet challenging”
        you think? 365 days inside “a cruise” >>>>>>>>>>10 days inside a cruise. when i mean “around me” i actually mean ” living with me” like ” Absolute no escape from constantly seen insanely tasty cheap food, everywhere, all the time, always” > that’s a totally different ball game, trust me. Even if you succeed, even if you feel good, look good, and even if you actually dont really want to indulge, it is like walking trow a minefielder, in this environment: self control > limited resource. thats why IF works for me, now i just need to be stronger. ( ex/today: oh, this water is kinda hot, i need a lil ice, opens refrigerator, BAM 2 kg of ice cream + ridiculous frozen cake, half Milka Chocolate Bar in the fk frige!) … didnt touch a thing, but that one hurted me deep.

  5. Darin W says:

    Hi Johnny, thanks for the great post. I had a similar experience when visiting family for 3 weeks this summer. For the last 2 weeks I ate whatever I wanted (which usually meant a cheeseburger or pizza) and ended up getting “jiggly”. After coming home I went back to my normal diet (paleo with dairy fat and protein, such as cottage cheese, cheese, and cream), maintained my IF regimen (16 hr fast, 8 hr feeding window), and lost some weight but haven’t got back the definition. Your post inspired me to mix in a couple of 24 hour fasts, so hopefully that leads to getting my definition back.

    I have used IF for the past year and half, and dropped from about 225 to about 195 today (from 25% bf to about 12% today). Got a ways to go, but IF is helping me get there.

    Thanks for the blog – your posts keep me motivated and informed.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Daren,

      Yes, very true that, if we overeat for a period and gain some weight, simply returning to maintenance won’t get rid of the extra weight. We’d have to under-eat for a period to lose it. Extended intermittent fasting helps.


      • Mark says:

        Hey Johnny,
        I was just wondering about something, if you have commented about this before please point me in the right direction. After traveling through Zone, Paleo, Crossfit, Wendler 5/3/1, and many other approaches on the fitness and nutrition journey, I have come to the following conclusions given my circumstances. As every person is different and many variables must be considered, I know that I can’t do intense Crossfit stuff everyday because I can’t recover from it, so I have following a plan on food and exercise that I think will help get me to my goals. I take an hour-long self-defense class on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. All classes get a good sweat going but Thursday is the only class that comes close to a hard Crossfit WOD. More of the style of short bouts of intensity over a longer period as opposed to going as hard as possible for 5 minutes. Outside of that I have been doing two days of heavy lifts (Wed: Deadlift and Bench, Sat: Squat and Weighted Chin) where I do some warm-up sets and then one set of max reps at a heavy weight. I finish with a slightly lighter weight for about the same number of reps as the max set. On the food side of things, I IF and have my first meal around 2-3 and finish eating around 10-11. Now for my question, sorry for the long intro. I have been following the idea of most meals being meat, dairy, veggies, fruit, and a little added fat if I like. Post-workout (lifting and class) I keep protein high and add starchy stuff while trying to keep the fat low. I tend to try to eat to satiety here. So my question is regarding starchy carbs (rice, potatoes, corn tortillas). I know you typically eat traditional Paleo but have you ever felt or seen examples where an increased amount of carbs helped or maybe hindered recovery/strength gains/fat loss or do you think it pretty much just comes down to total calorie load as long as the food quality is decent? Sorry this comment was kind of all over the place but I thought you’d have a good perspective on this as you have leaned out and have many clients that have as well. Thanks

      • Johnny says:

        Hi Mark,

        Overall calorie intake seems to dictate weight loss or gain, but starchy carbs tend to trigger hunger in me — perhaps more so because starchy carbs are typically the cheap caloric platform for added flavor that can trigger the pleasure center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens. (This makes sense because cheap calories like refined carbs and wheat serve as the foundation for all kinds of aggressive and unnatural flavoring, which not only stimulates the appetite center but also provides an abundance of cheap calories.)

        Anyway, I haven’t noticed whether starchy carbs impede on exercise recovery, as compared to more nutrient-dense vegetables. I imagine it may, but I haven’t seen any proof. I do know that I generally feel better when I eat mostly nutrient-dense, wholesome food as compared to nutrient-sparse starchy and refined food. But that could be psychological?

        I keep my exercise simple — some strength training, some metabolic conditioning, etc. I often let how I currently feel dictate the intensity, volume, and (sometimes) the frequency.

        I don’t eat so that I can fuel my workout. I workout based on the fuel I have available. While the former allows me to workout harder, it is the latter that always gives me superior results in total health and body composition.

        My days of winning competitions and medals are over; I just want to be very healthy, and have a body with which I can be proud to take my shirt off.

        I don’t know if I answered you directly, but I hope my reply helps somewhat.


  6. Jordan D. says:

    For the first time or the hundredth- exactly! Just as I wiped out a lot of the bad habits of several years in a few months of dieting, a lot of those good habits were wiped out in a few short days. It’s like I have to start over from scratch- except 60 pounds lighter, so I don’t mind! lol. I’ve done a little better over the last couple of days. My high was 200, and this morning I weighed in at 197.5. So obviously a lot of that gain was transient.

    One minor problem is that I can’t go back to one meal per day. I felt consistent stomach discomfort after dinner. And these weren’t even big meals, just around 1100 calories. It’s such an efficient way to eat less. More meals = more opportunities to eat too much. But my stomach can’t handle it, I guess. I’ll go back to two meals per day, and see how that goes.

  7. Jordan D. says:

    Lolo makes a good point. Living with other people, and having good food around the house all the time, is quite a difficult obstacle. It can be overcome, and we all have to take responsibility for what we put in our mouths. No one literally forces us to eat! But it is difficult.

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