I Ate 1000 Calories Over My Limit, Now What?

You might perceive eating over your calorie limit by 1000 calories as a stumbling block, but it doesn’t need to be.

Key Takeaways

  • When you eat over your calorie limit by 1000, focus your attention on your reaction.
  • It can be easy to get in your head and think you have hindered progress toward your weight loss goal making you believe you need to make drastic changes.
  • The best thing to do is get back on track, as soon as you’re able. 
  • Try increasing your water intake to aid with digestion and go for a walk (or similar activity) to help release some energy and manage any stress you’re inadvertently carrying.

Should You Be Worried About Eating 1000 Calories Over Your Limit?

Should you be worried about eating 1000 calories over your limit?

As a general rule of thumb don’t worry if you’ve eaten 1000 calories over your target.

Worrying or ruminating over this might cause you to make impulsive emotionally driven decisions around what you should be doing as a result of going off-plan, which is the last thing you need.

Instead of worrying about eating over your calorie target, take these steps:

  1. Accept that it has happened and can’t be changed;
  2. Go back to eating in line with your usual nutritional plan;
  3. Reflect on why you ate over your calorie targets; and
  4. Make informed changes to your nutritional plan, if required. 

Steps 1 and 2 are quick to implement, but in addressing step 3, there are key considerations to think about to help inform step 4.

These include:

  • Whether you have eaten 1000 calories over your maintenance or deficit calorie target.
  • Whether eating over your calorie targets is a one off or happening often
  • Whether there was a change in your activity level
  • Whether eating additional calories was planned
  • The type of foods your additional calories came from

Let’s discuss these in more detail below.

Check out our video of How To Count Calories Without Getting Obsessed.

1000 Calories Over Your Maintenance Or Deficit Calories

When referring to calorie limits it is important to know whether that limit relates to your calorie maintenance or whether it refers to your calorie deficit. 

Eating over your maintenance calories may slow down your progress toward weight loss because you have put yourself in a surplus.

Where this occurs as a one-off, it won’t result in weight gain, however, if you consistently eat in a surplus, over time you will see your weight increase.

Where you have eaten 1000 calories over your deficit calorie limit, and it is a one-off, you won’t impact progress toward weight loss, providing you are back eating in your usual calorie deficit the next day.

If you are regularly eating over your deficit though, then you may find you slow or stall your weight loss progress because your average calorie intake over time ceases to be a deficit.

Eating Over 1000 Calories One Time Or Happening Often

This is one of the most important considerations to reflect on. If you are regularly eating 1000 calories over your usual calorie intake, this could be indicative of binge eating. 

Having a splurge here in there is part of life and in the context of your usual eating habits splurges tend to even out over time.

However, where you are eating excessively above your calorie targets, there may be something else at play. Binge eating can occur as an attempt to help manage feelings of depression, loneliness, stress, or anxiety. It is common and can vary in severity.

Your doctor or a Registered Dietician can help you work through problematic habits around binge eating. These habits are important to address to improve your relationship with food and help you achieve long-term success with your nutrition.

Was There A Change In Your Activity Level

If you regularly train at a gym, participate in group fitness, or are involved in sport-specific training and your training regime has changed, you have incorporated additional activities or the intensity level has increased, then energy demands on your body may have changed. 

Where this occurs, your body may need additional calories to support a change in activity level and as a result, you may find yourself eating over your calorie limit.

Paying attention to your training demands may mean altering your calorie targets to support performance and fat loss goals. In making a slight increase to your daily calorie limit, you’re then more likely to be more compliant moving forward, because you’re providing your body with what it needs.

Did You Plan To Eat 1000 Calories Over Your Target

If you planned to eat 1000 calories over your target, and you ate 1000 calories over your target, then simply put you’ve eaten accordingly to your plan. 

Often fat loss focussed diets include planned days of increased or even unlimited calories to help give you a mental break from tracking, allowing you to replenish and feel ready to get back to your usual diet and remain more adherent to your diet for longer.

If you’re eating 1000 calories over your target and this was planned, then there is no cause for concern as this was likely already factored into your average calorie intake and deficit plan.

The Type Of Foods Your Additional Calories Came From

Looking at the type of foods you ate that caused you to consume more than your calorie limit, is important to look at. 

Perhaps your diet has been too rigid, and you haven’t allowed yourself the ability to include fun foods.

Perhaps you’re not consuming enough carbs to support your activity and your surplus calorie intake was due to your body craving something it needs.

Reflecting on this may help identify ways you can improve where you get your calories from to minimize eating over your calorie targets in the future.

Or perhaps you may alter your nutrition plan to also include some macro targets or considerations to help promote a more balanced intake of food.

What Happens To Your Body When You Eat 1000 Calories Over?

It is unlikely that eating 1000 calories over your limit will cause direct fat gain, however, you can expect to experience some slight changes to your body. These might include scale weight fluctuations, fluid retention, and digestive implications. 

With a big spike in calories, where these come from carbs, you might find that your scale weight increases.

This is because for every 1 gram of carb you consume your body retains around 3 grams of fluid. 

You may also experience increased fluid retention if you have had more processed foods, which are known to have higher sodium levels.

So where you have indulged 1000 calories over your limit because of extra processed foods, you’ve likely consumed higher sodium quantities and are retaining fluid as a result.

With any increased fluid retention, you’ll find you look puffier than usual across certain parts of your body. Drinking water will help your body balance out and flush out excess fluid.

On the whole, though, consuming 1000 calories over your calorie limit suggests overconsumption of food and with this will put pressure on your digestive system causing possible bloating and discomfort.

As your body digests the food, these symptoms will dissipate though.

Most of these changes are acute and when you allow for individual variances, you’re likely to see your body readjust and get back to normal after 3-5 days, providing you have gone back to your usual nutrition plan. 

Steps To Take After You’ve Eaten 1000 Calories Over Your Target

Steps To Take After You've Eaten 1000 Calories Over Your Target

This was touched on earlier and can’t be reiterated enough, but where you have eaten over your calorie target, just go back to your usual nutritional protocols or calorie deficit.

To help support you in doing this:

1. Do not drastically restrict your food intake after eating over your calorie limit.

It may be tempting to restrict food when you have overeaten, but this type of behavior will result in poor relationship food and cause an unhealthy binge and restrict cycle.

This is where you are eating too much and then eating too little to compensate, but never quite giving your body stable and consistent food intake to encourage it to perform how you need it to.

2. Drink lots of water to help move digestion along.

Drinking water will help flush out excess sodium and help your body digest food. Helping your body to start feeling better and get back to normal.

3. Schedule a workout in order to utilize the extra fuel in your body.

You may find yourself with some extra energy to spare with the extra calorie intake, so if you’re feeling good, consider upping the intensity in your daily workout or incorporate a long walk.

4. Reflect on why you went over your calorie limit by 1000 calories.

Think about why you ate 1000 calories over your limit:

  • Was it because of an unexpected social event? If so, it is unlikely to require any dramatic changes to your nutritional plan.
  • Was it because you were feeling sad and you turned to food for comfort? If so, it might be important to look at habit replacement and finding other ways to self soothe when you’re feeling emotionally unsettled.
  • Was there a change in your activity level or workout and you were craving more food? If so, you may need to look at changing your calorie limit or having macro targets as well.
  • Have you been in a deficit for too long and you need a diet break? If so, you may need to look at some diet break strategies, like a refeed day.
  • Was this a planned calorie increase? If so, then you don’t need to worry because it was part of your nutritional plan that you were appropriately following.

Through understanding why you went over your calorie limit, you can make informed and health-conscious decisions about how to adjust your diet and nutrition plan.

5. Consider whether you need to make any changes to your nutrition plan.

Once you have reflected on why you ate 1000 calories over your target, if you’re thinking you need to change up your nutrition plan because you want to incorporate more flexibility, your training program has changed or you want a break, some helpful strategies include:

  • Reviewing your calorie deficit to make sure it is not too low. You want to ensure your calorie targets support your goals, as well as your activity and general body function. If you have created too much of a deficit it will be more difficult to be compliant, by reducing the deficit you increase your chances of longer term adherence and success.
  • Review the length of time you have been in a calorie deficit. The longer you have been in a deficit the more likely you are to be less compliant.
  • Incorporate regular refeed days where you schedule in times in your diet to eat more calories in a mindful and planned way.
  • Incorporate more fibrous and whole foods to help you feel fuller and manage hunger cues.
  • Look at your mindset towards food and consider whether seeking professional help from a dietician will be beneficial to achieving your goals sustainably but also help you achieve a healthier relationship with food.

Is Your Diet Ruined If You Eat 1000 Calories Over Your Limit? 

Any diet’s success will come from adherence to a plan, on average for a sustained period. For weight loss, this means eating in a calorie deficit on average, over time.

So, it’s unlikely you’ll ruin your diet based on something you did for one day, if the rest of the time you’re typically eating in line with your nutritional goals.

As an example let’s say your maintenance calories are 2500, and you put yourself in a calorie deficit of 500 calories to promote weight loss, making your deficit calories 2000:

  • Your weekly calorie intake for your deficit should roughly be 140000 compared to your weekly maintenance calories of 17500.
  • If you were to have 6 days of eating at 2000 calories and one day where you ate 1000 calories over for a total of 3000 calories, your weekly calorie intake would be 15000.
  • Overall for the week you would still be in a calorie deficit.

Adaptations in your body composition take time and success does not come from actions taken on one day alone, but through the consistent habits you display over time.

If you’ve eaten 1000 calories over your limit, you certainly haven’t ruined your diet. Just stay the course, and you’ll see progression.

Final Thoughts

It is a big commitment to alter your nutritional habits and work toward a weight loss goal, and when you throw life and emotions into the mix things can get more complicated again. Be patient with yourself.

When you have eaten 1000 calories over your limit, the best response is to go back to your usual nutritional plan or calorie deficit, that is a sure-fire way to not impede your progression.

If you’re habitually overeating though and this feels uncontrolled and is causing you stress or anxiety, then it’s time to talk to someone who can help you with a suitable nutritional plan and encourage a healthy relationship with food.

There is a team of people at Feast Good who are here to help, so please reach out if you need.

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About The Author

Steph Catalucci

Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food.  Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.

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