If you’ve hung around me long enough, you are a client, or have been one in the past, you’ve undoubtedly hear me talk A LOT about:
-Off Plan Meals
-The 90/10 Rule
Compliance to your plan drives results. What I’ve found through years of working with 100’s of people is there can typically only be a 5-10% deviation from one’s meal plan without it resulting in either stagnation, “wishy washy” maintenance, or a regression.
So let’s say a theoretical 150 lb. person- we will call her “Kim”, wants to lose fat. She does some poking around on the internet and decides she should be eating about 1650 calories a day to lose fat. She also decides she wants to eat 5x/day.
So that’s 35 meals per week and about 11,500 calories (each week) to drive some fat loss. Going to the 90/10 rule, she tells herself she can have 3-4 “free” meals each week and be just fine.
But not so fast.
Let’s say Kim is spot-on Monday through Friday. Everything has been followed to a tee. Everything has been tracked and measured. She’s never exceeded the caloric threshold she set for herself. Great. Now it’s time to take advantage of those 3-4 meals and “have some fun”…because it’s not going to hurt anything and she’s “allowed”. Is this sounding familiar yet?
So Saturday she eats her first 3 meals as planned. Then, meal 4, she eats a triple cheese burger, fries and a Sundae from her favorite burger joint (roughly 2500-3000 calories and we will get to this here in a bit). Still doing fine, she tells herself, because she’s allowed to do this and still within the 90/10 parameters.
Meal 5 she hits up “Sushi Palace”. 4 rolls, some sake, etc. Still ok right? She gets 3-4 meals “off” anyway. Sunday, she gets up and meets her friends for breakfast. Mimosas, chicken and waffles, etc. Then she gets back on plan the rest of the day and her final 4 meals are 100% on plan.
She gets on the scale and does some measurements a few days later, and she’s 2 lbs heavier, all of her hip and thigh measurements are up, etc.
Kim is NOT pleased with these results because she did so well and was 90% compliant. She’s about ready to throw in the towel with this diet and about to check out the detox juice route her friend on IG has been praising.
You obviously should see what I’m getting at here. Let’s say Kim’s “off plan” meals totaled 6 thousand calories, whereas, if she had been on plan, those meals may never have exceeded 400 a piece or more than about 1600 total. Do you see the obvious problem here?
Kim’s 35 meals a week at roughly 330 calories per meal (11,550 total for week) has now turned into 16,230…even though she was 90% compliant. So now, she’s roughly 5000 OVER where she needed to be for fat loss. As you see, Kim’s scale and measurement increases can logically be explained.
One, just because your meal compliance is high, doesn’t mean you are going to get results. There are different degrees of off plan eating. This would be an extreme, but one which also isn’t exactly uncommon or hard to pull off. I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.
It’s quite easy to knock yourself out of a caloric deficit and actually end up worse off for the entire week with 2-3 meals. Very easy. I would also add, even if the off-plan eating isn’t as extreme as this example, and one was “making good choices” (which were not quantified), it still could result in a flat line – no gain, no loss.
I don’t know about you, but I hate to see my hard work all be cancelled out by the weekends where I was thinking it was fine to go ‘off plan’. Remember that what you are eating in those times you are off plan, still have an effect on your weekly progress.