I Ate 2000 Calories Over My Limit, Now What?

When you are counting your calories in order to reach a weight loss goal, consistency with your deficit is critical. However, even while on a diet, splurges happen. So what happens if you ate 2000 calories over your daily limit?

If you ate 2000 calories over your daily limit, this will not hinder your fat loss goals as long as you get back on track with your diet.

After a day of splurging on more food than normal, you should continue with your calorie deficit, drink lots of water, and get active in order to utilize the extra fuel in your body.

While one day of indulging won’t destroy your progress, it is important to note that having these types of splurges too often will negatively affect your fat loss phase.

In addition to this, eating a large amount over your calorie deficit in an uncontrolled and unplanned manner has the potential to turn into binge eating behavior.

This can create an extremely unhealthy relationship with food and is a problem that should be addressed.

If your goal is to hit a certain amount of calories, and you are continuously eating well over that limit, it is important to get to the bottom of why you are consistently going over your calories. 

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Should you be worried about eating 2000 calories over your limit?
  • How eating 2000 calories over your daily limit will affect your body
  • What steps you can take after you’ve eaten 2000 calories over your limit
  • Is your diet ruined if you eat 2000 calories over your limit?

Should You Be Worried About Eating 2000 Calories Over Your Limit?

should you be worried about eating 2000 calories over your limit

While you likely haven’t derailed your progress from going over your calorie limit for one day, there are a few important variables to consider in order to determine the effect that this calorie overage will have on your body.

Some factors to consider are:

  • If you ate 2000 calories over your deficit or your maintenance calories
  • If eating 2000 calories over your limit is a common occurrence
  • The types of calories you consumed and how they affect the body
  • Whether or not this calorie increase was planned
Check out our video of How To Count Calories Without Getting Obsessed.

1. If You Ate 2000 Calories over Your Deficit or Your Maintenance Calories

The degree to which eating 2000 calories over your limit will affect your progress is dependent on whether this surplus is over your maintenance calories or your deficit calories.

For example, if the deficit for your fat loss phase is 1800 calories, and your maintenance calories are 2100, eating 2000 calories over your deficit would mean that you are only 1700 calories over your maintenance. 

While this is still a significant caloric surplus, you are less likely to experience any fat gain if you ate 2000 calories over your deficit, versus eating the same amount over your maintenance.

2. If Eating 2000 Calories over Your Limit Is a Common Occurrence

Eating in a large calorie surplus for one day will not affect your fat loss progress, as long as it is a rare occurrence. However, if the days where you are over your calorie limit are becoming frequent, this will more than likely slow or stop your progress altogether.

The success of a calorie deficit directly depends on how compliant you are to that deficit over a consistent period of time. It can be very easy for one day of treats to turn into an entire week of being off of your diet. 

Therefore it is important to consider how often you are allowing these calorie overage days to occur and consider reducing the frequency of these “cheat days” if your goal is to lose fat.

3. The Types of Calories You Consumed and How They Affect the Body

While fat loss and fat gain depend specifically on the balance of calories in/ calories out, it is also important to consider the fact that certain foods will affect the body differently than others, particularly when they are over consumed.

If you have eaten 2000 calories over your limit, and the majority of these calories came from processed, carbohydrate-rich foods, you will more than likely experience an increase in weight due to water retention.

When you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates (glycogen), your body will retain more water due to the fact that every gram of glycogen in your body has 3 to 4 molecules of water attached to it. 

Similarly, foods that are more processed usually contain more sodium, which can also cause water retention in the body.

If you ate 2000 calories over your limit, it is more than likely you ate more sodium than what you are used to, which will cause the body to gain temporary water weight.

Lastly, if you went over your calories by a few thousand, you likely consumed far more of all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) than your body is used to. 

This overconsumption of calories, particularly coming from fat, will slow down your digestion, potentially causing digestive upset.

These digestive symptoms will dissipate as your body digests the food, however, if you want to avoid these symptoms, it is best to avoid overeating altogether.

4. Whether or Not This Calorie Increase Was Planned

If you have been extremely adherent to your calorie deficit, and you plan a day where you can eat an unlimited amount of calories, it is unlikely that this will affect any progress that you have made providing that you get back on track right away.

Conversely, if you are in a calorie deficit, but you accidentally blow your calories by a few thousand, it might be worth taking a look at your current diet and routine, in order to determine what is causing you to fall off track to this extent.

Having a planned and controlled calorie increase, such as a refeed, can be an effective strategy while dieting to help with diet adherence, as well as increasing energy and leptin levels.

Similar to this, a planned cheat day has the benefit of providing a mental break from your diet while improving leptin and energy levels. 

However, the downside to both a planned or unplanned cheat day is that the calorie intake is not controlled like a refeed, therefore you are more likely to prolong your fat loss progress, along with increasing the potential to create a binge-then-restrict relationship with food. 

Some Factors That May Be Causing an Accidental Cheat Day Are:

  • Your calorie deficit is too low
  • You have been in a calorie deficit for too long
  • You are not eating enough whole foods filled with fiber and water
  • You need to address your mindset toward food

1. Your Calorie Deficit Is Too Low

If during your fat loss phase, you have been eating too far below your maintenance calories, you may find it harder to control yourself around food due to increased hunger.

The result of a calorie deficit that is too low is often reduced adherence to your diet and an increased risk of binging. If this sounds like you, try increasing your calorie deficit by a few hundred calories to see if this helps.

2. You Have Been in a Calorie Deficit for Too Long

If you find yourself with constant low energy, incessant hunger, and are finding it difficult to follow your diet, it may be a sign that you have been in a deficit for too long, and you need a diet break.

While a calorie deficit is highly effective for fat loss, being in a deficit for too long can have negative effects on the body.

Scheduling a diet break, or slowly reversing out of your deficit will help to mitigate any negative side effects that may have come from a prolonged deficit.

3. You Are Not Eating Enough Whole Foods Filled with Fiber and Water

When you are in a calorie deficit, it is important to prioritize foods that are going to make you feel full and satisfied so that you don’t feel the urge to overeat or binge.

If you are in a calorie deficit but are not eating an abundance of whole foods filled with fiber and water (such as fruit and vegetables), it is likely that you are going to have trouble feeling full. 

Try increasing your intake of fiber and water-rich foods to help increase the feeling of fullness while in your calorie deficit.

4. You Need to Address Your Mindset Toward Food

 As mentioned earlier, it is important that you are aware of the relationship that you have with food in order to ensure you don’t develop any unhealthy binge eating habits while in a calorie deficit.

If you find that you are struggling to control yourself around food, or you are using food to cope with feelings of stress or anxiety despite trying to stick to your deficit, it might be a good time for you to implement a diet break.

How Eating 2000 Calories over Your Daily Limit Will Affect Your Body

Eating 2000 calories over your limit for one day will not result in fat gain, however, it is likely that you will see the scale go up after overindulging.

This weight spike will be a result of the body retaining water from an increased intake of carbohydrates and sodium.

For every gram of carbohydrate that you consume, your body holds on to roughly 3 grams of water. Therefore, if your day of excess calories consists of an increase in carbs, you will be holding onto a lot more water than your body is used to.

Similarly, an increased sodium intake also results in the body holding onto water. If you have consumed thousands of calories over your limit, it is likely that you ate higher-calorie processed foods, which are typically higher in sodium.

What Steps You Can Take After You’ve Eaten 2000 Calories Over Your Daily Limit

what steps you can take after you’ve eaten 2000 calories over your daily limit

You’ve gone over your calorie limit by 2000 calories, so what now? Here are some action steps that you can take after going over your calories:

  • Do not drastically restrict your food intake after eating over your calorie limit
  • Drink lots of water to help move digestion along
  • Schedule a workout in order to utilize the extra fuel in your body
  • Determine why you went over your calorie limit by 2000 calories and make adjustments to your routine to prevent it in the future

1. Do Not Drastically Restrict Your Food Intake after Eating over Your Calorie Limit

If you have one day of drastically overdoing your calories, one of the worst things that you can do is try to starve yourself the next day.

While you may be tempted to do some damage control, this type of reaction is what can cause the unhealthy binge-then-restrict cycle with the food we want to avoid.

Instead, it is recommended that you get right back to your regular calorie deficit the next day.  You might not feel as hungry as you normally do after a day of overeating, so if you end up eating a bit less than normal that is acceptable. 

However, this should not turn into your purposely over restricting calories in order to make up for overindulging. The sooner you get back to your regular routine, the better.

2. Drink Lots of Water to Help Move Digestion Along

 Drinking lots of water after eating 2000 calories over your regular intake is a great way to assist the digestion process and get your body back into balance.

In addition to this, drinking lots of water can assist the body in flushing out any excess sodium you may have in your system from the extra food that you ate. This will help to reduce the water retention you might experience after a cheat day.

If you are normally consuming around 3 liters of water a day, aim to consume at least this amount or even a bit more after a day of going over your calorie limit.

3. Schedule a Workout in Order to Utilize the Extra Fuel in Your Body

After eating 2000 more calories than your normal daily limit, your body is going to have a lot of energy stores in the body waiting to be used.

Ideally, if you have a day full of excess calories, putting all of that extra energy to good use with an intense workout will help to mitigate any unwanted fat storage. 

Moving your body after eating an excess amount of calories will also help with the digestion process in your body. Therefore, correlating your workout schedule with the days that you eat more calories will be the most optimal.

4.  Determine Why You Went over Your Calorie Limit by 2000 Calories and Make Adjustments to Your Routine to Prevent It in the Future

The most important question to ask yourself after unintentionally going over your calorie limit by a significant amount is; what in your current routine is causing reduced adherence to your diet?

Whether it is your calorie deficit being too low, being in a calorie deficit for too long, not eating enough whole foods, or having an unhealthy mindset towards food, it is crucial that you address the issue in order to prevent over-eating in the future.

Final Takeaway: Is Your Diet Ruined If You Eat 2000 Calories Over Your Limit?

If you ate 2000 calories over your calorie limit you have not ruined your diet, due to the fact that the success of your fat loss phase depends on your adherence over a consistent period of time.

As long as you get right back on track with your calorie deficit, one day of overindulging will not destroy progress.

Keep Learning: What To Read Next


Murray SB, Pila E, Mond JM, Mitchison D, Blashill AJ, Sabiston CM, Griffiths S. Cheat meals: A benign or ominous variant of binge eating behavior? Appetite. 2018 Nov 1;130:274-278. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.08.026. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PMID: 30144490.

Chan ST, Johnson AW, Moore MH, Kapadia CR, Dudley HA. Early weight gain and glycogen-obligated water during nutritional rehabilitation. Human nutrition. Clinical Nutrition. 1982 ;36(3):223-232. PMID: 6811511.

S N Kreitzman and others, Glycogen storage: illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 56, Issue 1, July 1992, Pages 292S–293S, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/56.1.292S

Negoianu, Dan; Goldfarb, Stanley. Just Add Water. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 19(6):p 1041-1043, June 2008. | DOI: 10.1681/ASN.2008030274

About The Author

Colby Roy

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.

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