Eating over your calorie target could increase your potential to gain weight or at least slow weight loss down, so it’s important to understand how to handle these situations when they occur.
What should you do after eating 700 calories over your limit? After eating 700 calories over your limit you should return to your calorie target as soon as possible to prevent weight gain and make weight loss or maintenance possible going forward. There is no need to try and compensate (i.e. undereat) after eating additional calories. Simply return to normal eating the next day.
If you’re eating 700 calories over your calorie target then you need to understand what consequences come with it and how you can get back on track.
Therefore, after reading this article you’ll learn:
- If you should be worried about eating 700 calories over your limit
- How your body could respond to an additional 700 calories
- What to do after eating 700 calories over your limit
- If your diet is ruined after eating 700 calories over your target
Should You Be Worried About Eating 700 Calories Over Your Limit?
Whether you should worry or not about eating 700 calories depends on 5 factors:
1. How Much 700 Calories Put You Over Your Maintenance Calories
If you’re in a deficit then perhaps 700 calories over your limit just put you slightly over your maintenance calories, and the only repercussion is that you are bringing yourself out of a deficit for a small period of time.
However, if you’re eating at maintenance or just slightly below then the 700 calories above your limit would put you higher above your maintenance and there would be more potential for fat gain.
- Related Article: Is It Better To Hit Your Calorie Or Macros?
2. How Often You’re Overeating
If you’re regularly overeating your target calories by 700 calories then you will either maintain weight or gain weight depending on how much the additional calories put you over your maintenance calories.
If the 700 calories bring you back to maintenance calories and you continue to do this, then you will continue to maintain your weight.
If the additional 700 calories put you over your maintenance calories and you continue to do this, then your weight will trend upwards over time.
However, if you eat 700 calories over your target one time, your progress will barely be affected. This is because you’ll be returning to your target calories immediately and that one day of overeating won’t be significant enough to have that much of an impact.
- Related Article: Should You Undereat After Overeating? (Here’s What To Do)
3. How Much Activity You’re Doing When You’re Overeating
If you’re increasing your activity significantly when you’re eating 700 calories over your target then you may compensate for the increased calories and not see a significant shift in your weight.
To be clear, you should not set out to burn off any additional unplanned calories because this behaviour can become more disordered over time. Having this mindset that you need to burn off every additional calorie that you overeat causes more problems than it solves.
However, if your activity was increased and you increased your calories in response to this to properly fuel your body, then that is ideal and you most likely won’t gain weight because these calories were put to good use.
4. Which Macronutrients Contributed Most to the Increase in Calories
When you eat 700 calories over your limit, it can be useful to look back and see which macronutrients contributed the most to the increase in calories.
If the additional calories came from an increase in protein then you would probably have burned off quite a bit of the additional calories just by digesting it. This is because protein has the highest thermic effect of food, which just means that digesting protein burns more calories than digesting carbs or fats.
Therefore the more protein we eat, the more calories we burn digesting it. So it would be ideal if the additional calories come from protein.
If the additional calories come from fats or carbs it wouldn’t increase the thermic effect of food as much, but because carbs are the body’s primary source of fuel we may notice that we have more energy to engage in activities if we eat more carbs than normal.
If the additional calories come from fat they are more likely to be stored as body fat, but ultimately how much you gain depends on how much over your maintenance calories you consumed.
For more information on eating over specific macros, check out:
5. The Intention Behind Eating an Additional 700 Calories
If you ate 700 calories over your limit on purpose to give your body a break from a calorie deficit and hopefully prevent your metabolism from slowing down, then eating the extra 700 calories is probably worth it. If this was the plan, it would have been a strategic increase and not unplanned overeating.
If you ate 700 calories over your target because there was a special event or something that you deemed “worth it”, then it’s okay that you’re over your limit this one time and it’s likely that it’s not a regular behaviour that would set you back.
If you are finding yourself “uncontrollably eating” 700 calories over your target and you’re not even wanting to, then you may be beginning to struggle with binge eating.
If this is the case, it’s important to question why you’re unable to stick to your target:
- Is it unrealistic?
- Are you feeling deprived?
- Are you extremely hungry?
Maybe it’s time to stop trying to stick to these particular target calories.
The context for why you’re eating 700 calories over your target is really important to determine whether this behaviour makes sense or if it’s a problem.
What Happens To Your Body When You Eat 700 Calories Over?
When you eat 700 calories over your limit, it’s normal for your weight to go up temporarily even if you’re not eating more than your maintenance calories.
This is because you’re likely consuming more carbs and more sodium than your “normal amount”, both of which will cause you to retain more water than you normally would.
Therefore your weight on the scale will most likely be higher due to water retention and potentially some fat gain if you’re regularly eating over your maintenance.
Typically it takes around 3500 calories above your maintenance to equate to a pound of fat. Therefore if you’re regularly consuming 700 calories over your target then you could gain a pound of fat.
However, if you’re only eating 700 calories over your limit once, then it’s not possible for you to gain a pound. So if the scale shows that you have, it’s safe to say that it’s water retention that you’re seeing.
Related Article: How Often Should You Refeed? 7 Signs You Need A Refeed Day
Steps To Take After You’ve Eaten 700 Calories Over Your Target
After you’ve eaten 700 calories over your diet, the most important thing to do is return to your current baseline. If you just “go back to normal” then there is really no harm done as long as this isn’t a regular unplanned occurrence.
If you try to compensate for the additional calories, you could actually do more harm than good by encouraging an unhealthy pattern of overeating and overexercising. It’s best to move on and let your body get back to normal by getting back into your normal routine.
If you’re regularly overeating by 700 calories or more, then you need to dive deeper into why this is happening and consider changing things up so that you’re doing something that is more sustainable.
- Related Article: Can You Undereat & Not Lose Weight? (Yes, Here’s Why)
Is Your Diet Ruined If You Eat 700 Calories Over Your Limit?
Your diet isn’t ruined after eating 700 calories over your limit as long as you return to your deficit and this isn’t something that you’re doing often.
If this is something you’re doing often, you need to determine why this is happening. If you’re unable to adhere to your diet, then perhaps some adjustments need to be made so that you are able to stay consistent. If that’s the case, book a 20-min free consultation with one of the FeastGood coaches to help you.
If you are eating 700 calories over your limit as a strategic effort to refeed then it should be a controlled process and not something that happens randomly.
- For more information on refeeds, check out my other article: Should I Refeed While Cutting? (Yes, Here’s Why).
Eating over your calorie limit once isn’t going to make or break your progress; however, if it starts to be a recurring issue then you need to determine why this is happening and respond accordingly.
Other Macro Tracking Articles
- How To Count Calories Without Getting Obsessed (5 Tips)
- Going Over Your Calories Once A Week: Is This Okay?
- I Ate 2000 Calories Over My Limit, Now What?
- I Ate 1000 Calories Over My Limit, Now What?
Hill, J. O., Wyatt, H. R., & Peters, J. C. (2013). The Importance of Energy Balance. European endocrinology, 9(2), 111–115. https://doi.org/10.17925/EE.2013.09.02.111
Manuel Calcagno, Hana Kahleova, Jihad Alwarith, Nora N. Burgess, Rosendo A. Flores, Melissa L. Busta & Neal D. Barnard (2019) The Thermic Effect of Food: A Review, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 38:6, 547-551, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1552544
Mathes, W. F., Brownley, K. A., Mo, X., & Bulik, C. M. (2009). The biology of binge eating. Appetite, 52(3), 545-553. ISSN 0195-6663. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2009.03.005.
About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
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