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How can I avoid feeling restricted whilst in a caloric deficit?

In general, people tend to fall into one of these categories when it comes to restriction:

  1. Those who prefer to allocate a few calories each day in order to have a little bit of what they fancy.
  2. Those who prefer to use their calories to have as much food quantity as they can; even if that means that they have to limit more calorie-dense foods on a daily basis.

In terms of body recomposition (fat loss and muscle building, AKA toning) it doesn’t make any difference which of these you prefer! All that matters is that you hit your calorie and protein targets.

If you have a large appetite then, in order to make decent progress, you’ll probably have to go for food quantity and sacrifice the more calorie-dense stuff like biscuits, chocolate, pizza etc.

If you have a smaller appetite and can feel like you want to incorporate some treats into your daily nutrition then go for it!

BUT…If you have a large appetite AND want to eat the biscuits, chocolate and pizza then you’ll either hit your calorie target very quickly and be starving, or you’ll blow your calorie targets and struggle to make progress. In this case you’ll need to choose between chocolate and progress. Either option is fine, as long as you’re honest with yourself.

From a personal point of view, I can’t think of anything worse than just having a little bit of something each day. I’m not someone who needs or wants to have a little bit of everything on a daily basis so I don’t feel deprived. If I can only have one tiny bit of chocolate then I DO feel deprived! A couple of Celebrations? I’d rather just not bother. It would just make me feel deprived because I can’t have exactly what I want…half a box!

If I have an occasional blowout then I feel absolutely no guilt at all. I don’t feel depressed. I don’t think it’s harming my progress. Absolutely nothing! It works perfectly for me!

So, instead of having a little bit of what I fancy and not getting much food each day, I like to eat healthily with lots of nutrient dense, low-calorie foods. If I get that sugar craving after a meal I tend to have an Options hot chocolate drink.

Take-home points

Do whatever works for you! If it’s a Freddo, a couple of Celebrations or a small glass of wine to keep you on track then great!! If you’d rather not bother and maybe have a blowout every month, then great! Either of those is fine in terms of what works for you.

But remember, in terms of nutrition for weight loss, Calories are King! Do whatever you need to do to stay within them without feeling deprived, whether that’s a daily treat or an occasional blowout. If you also want to “tone up” then you need to keep the protein high.

Just bear in mind that an extra 150 calories every day (4500 a month) will stall your progress a lot more than a 1200 calorie blowout once a month!