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Binge eating + Cravings after cheat days?

Calories Carbs Fat Protein

Breakfast :

Asda - Free Range Eggs, 3 egg

Sainsburys - Spicy & Smoky Chorizo Ring , 40 g (1/8 of pack)

Butter - Salted, 1.1 tbsp

552 0 48 30


Pizza Express - Sloppy Guiseppe Pizza, 0.75 pizza

Marks and Spencer - Lemon Lush Sorbet, 0.75 container (500 mls ea.)

Kit Kat - Chunky Peanut Butter, 33 g

Dare (Canada) - Ruffles Macaroon Biscuits Classic , 2 cookies

Sainsbury's - Sugar Ring Doughnut, 2.5 ring

Lyle's - Golden Syrup, 3 Teaspoon

Starbucks - Venti Skinny Vanilla Spice Latte, No Whip, 0.75 Venti

Mccain - Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges, 75 g (oven baked)

Haagen-Dazs - Belgian Chocolate, 300 ml

Asda Meal for 4 - Extra Strong Garlic and Herb Baguette, 1/2 baguette

Roly's - Fudge, 6 Cube

Blue Dragon - Thai Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, 10 g

Thorntons - Classic Collection Chocolates (2010), 7 chocolate

Aunt Bessie's - Home Bake Yorkshire Puddings, 1.6 pudding

Nestle - Kit Kat Chunky Caramel, 0.75 bar (50g)

Reece's - Crispy, Crunchy (Candy Bar) - King Size, 0.45 bar (44 grams)

Iceland - Apple Pie 700g, 0.13 container (700 gs ea.)

Wall's - Cream of Cornish Vanilla Ice Cream, 100 g

Milk - Whole, 3.25% milkfat, 1 cup

Bird's - Instant Custard, 0.75 container (501 g made ups ea.)

5,259 648 223 86


Tetley (Canada) - Pure Green Tea, 4 tea bag

Tetley - Green Tea - Decaf, 2 cup

Spices - Cinnamon, ground, 1 tsp

Tropicana Pure Premium - Golden Grapefruit , 300 ml

Cadbury - Chocolate Eclairs, 3 piece (3.8g)

Ski Smooth - Toffee Apple Yogurt, 60 g pot

Redbull Sugarfree - Sugar Free Energy Drink, 1 can (250 ml)

Sharwoods - Ready to Eat Prawn Crackers, 20 g

385 68 13 6


6,196 716 284 122

This was my cheat day from two weeks ago. It is quite typical for me to eat that much food, as it is even more than Tim Ferriss himself published in the 'Damage Control' chapter..^^;

The problem is, I try to 'limit' myself on cheat days by just having a list that totals up to around 4500-5000 calories, but then I tend to eat MORE..Last cheat day (Saturday) I consumed probably around 8000 calories for the day once I totaled it up. I ask myself, why did I have to consume so much food? Simply because it is 'cheat day' and I am not gonna have another chance to indulge for another couple of weeks? I restrict my cheat days to every 10-14 days.

The reason I do this is because it sometimes takes up to a week for all carb cravings to go away and feel 'normal' again, even though I still ended up losing more weight after 7 days of a cheat day, and continued losing up until 11 days after the last cheat day, at which point I would always start to plateau no matter what I did- until having another cheat day at least.

I was fine for the first few cheat days, but after Christmas things started going wrong.. I would find myself having bigger and bigger cheat days, and sometimes they went onto being 2 or even three days of cheating, all totaling around a similar level of calories.

The good news, however, is that I am at my goal weight of 130lbs. I am at maintenance and I am slowly progressing through 'rungs' of adding more 'slow' carbs to my daily food intake. Currently I can eat a sweet potato at lunch along with 100g beans at each meal, plus an apple in the morning and a handful of berries in the afternoon, and maintain my weight very easily, in fact I will have to be careful not to lose anymore by neglecting my food intake. I currently get 2000-2200 calories, 120-140gr protein and around 80gr carbs on a typical day. After cheat days I always reduce carbs, usually all but green veg, avocado and green tea for two days afterwards to get the glucose out of my system.

In my dieting phase I would get 1300-1500 calories at the most, 100-110gr protein and 20-30gr of carbs made up entirely of green vegetables, up to half an avocado, coffee, green tea, a few nuts I would allow myself and spices.

Like I said, the major problems I am having are the horrible, crippling cravings I get to 'binge' on cheat days and for a good few days after cheat day. I think maybe it's because my blood sugar goes all over the place, even with a fair amount of damage control. Or maybe I am hypersensitive to refined carbohydrates.. :thinking:

But lets face it, my intake of sugar and junk is MASSIVE when I have a cheat day =/

Could my excessive intake of carbs on cheat day be setting me up for all the horrible cravings that I have to 'fight off' after cheat days? Because for a few days after, I simply long for the foods that make me feel so crap.. And how the hell my body can digest so much food is beyond me. Maybe my body is 'fighting back' against my weight loss too? I have lost over 30lbs in 3 months.

Either way, I know this is a long question, but can someone please help me? I feel as if I am addicted to food, and it almost seems to qualify as a form of binge eating. I do not want to let cravings 'overwhelm' my desire to keep my body and continue working on maintenance and eventually start Occam's in the summer/autumn.


The Best Answer

United-States flag

This is a great question and i know exactly what you are talk about. and it is a combination of psychological and physical. your body does take some time to get used to your new low weight but once you start to fell like this is my normal weight instead of my goal weight it will become alot easier mentally and physically to maintain. right now you mind is telling you that you are not suppose be this low in weight and i think this is part of the reason you seem to be sabotaging your cheat days. i went thru the same when i got to my goal weight 3 years ago and lost over 70 pounds. i didnt feel totally comfortable with my new body and i was constantly craving more fattening foods than i ever had. i had to start to believe that my new "goal weight" was actually my normal weight and allowed myself to fluctuate + or - 5lbs nothing more or less or i would spring into action. for a while i weight myself regularly everyday until i found that sweet spot where i could eat "normally" (but healthy) and not fluctuate pass that 5 pound threshold.

also i know some people can be lifers on scd but i think most people will have to use a less restrictive well rounded diet to maintain after they reach there goal weight. you can have burgers , ice cream, pizza everyday so a cheat day is never really necessary and still maintain your weight (this is how i lost weight before scd but it was slow 4 -8 pounds a month). you just have to choose the healthy version (that still taste good to you) and the right portion size at the right time (The Volumetrics Eating Plan book is a great resource for this) . for example a typical day maintaining the weight i was in my profile pic 192lbs was:

breakfast: 2 egg whites, 2 slices of turkey bacon, slice of avacado or 2% cheddar cheese w/ whole grain english muffin

lunch: whole grain bun or Ezekiel bun, w/ organic lean ground buffalo or grass lean fed beef part skim mozzarella, low fat mayo, baked sweet potato fries

dinner: lean protein (fish, beef, chicken) with fresh veggies

snack, apples, bananas, low cal popcorn , low cal protein bars etc

dessert (couple times a week): coconut milk ice cream, frozen yogurt, low cal popcorn, tostitos and salsa (always stopped eating 3 to 4 hours before bed)

on Saturday i would allow my self one cheat mean that was really bad like cheese cake but many time i didnt need it.

once you get the hang of it maintenance is the best time because even if you blow it one or two days it will only take a couple days to get right back to your "normal weight" and nobody will be the wiser :) . just make sure you track your weight everyday until your comfortable, do what you need to do when you gain too much and relax and enjoy food again in better moderation you earned it!! hope this helps

All Answers


United-States flag

It seems to me that cheat days may not be needed at all now that you are at goal weight. Have you considered not having any at all? I mean, my understanding is that they are needed to reset leptin etc when one is significantly overweight. And you aren't anymore.

  • Sam Green commented Feb 8th 2012:

    Yes I have seriously considered this.. They leave me incredibly vulnerable to binging now that I have gotten to a pretty low weight it seems.. I try to control it, yet my brain can't trick my body. It probably sees the cheat days as an opportunity to bring its reserves back up. Seems to be both psychological + physiological to me..

    Yet a lot of leptin-based carb-cycling approaches tend to say the lower your body fat , the lower your leptin gets. Tim says that for women, menstruation stops when leptin gets too low, so 'forced overfeeding' brings these leptin levels back up 40%, only to decline after 10 days or so.

  • Gretchen Linden commented Feb 8th 2012:

    Well, my understanding is that body fat produces leptin. So of course, if there is not much body fat, there will be a lot less circulating leptin. I've also understood that the reason for cheat days while attempting to lose fat is to reset the "communication" between the leptin and the brain. Overweight folks have plenty of leptin -- lots of it -- circulating, but the brain doesn't know it's there because the sensors have been dulled. Sounds like you're already more familiar with all that than I, but the bottom line in my mind for you is that I think it might be best to try not having any cheat days for a while because it simply sounds too frustrating.

  • Sam Green commented Feb 8th 2012:

    I agree- It would help my anxiety a lot if I knew that I am staying stable and enjoying my diet/feeling healthy- not unhealthy/withdrawing from toxic sugar/wheat. Definitely keeping the cheat to a minimum from now on- maybe only once a month I will have a full 'cheat day' but otherwise I'm gonna try out just having one cheat meal every 10 days or so. I figure that less carb overload= less signals from my body for more of them, and perhaps a better metabolic effect now that I cannot afford/don't want to lose weight anymore.

  • Maria Rider commented Feb 8th 2012:

    I agree with Gretchen. Just ditch the cheat days. I think they are just setting you up psychologically for dysfunctional eating habits and you don't want that. Just eat as you normally do everyday and only really eat more if you say go to a social function or something, but then get back to eating the NORMAL SCD way with the healthy carbs you have in your diet now. THIS is your new way of eating. No more need to burn fat or get thinner. You are there, Sam! Enjoy eating and don't feel the need to be that strict anymore. :) Just concentrate on eating clean and healthy 100% of the time. No need to binge...just maintain!

  • Maria Rider commented Feb 8th 2012:

    I am probably gonna continue with SCD even after my goal if only because I do not think I will be at my 18% bodyfat goal by the time I lose the weight. You said you were already at 7%, so don't need to burn more fat. Just treat everyday like a SCD+healthy carbs. Listen to your body, don't listen to the cravings....remember most of them are mental...not physical. You are getting enough food, no need to binge/cheat anymore! YOu can do it! Wean yourself off the Cheat Day mentality....just eat healthy all the time!

  • Maria Rider commented Feb 8th 2012:

    You know, I just thought of something that could help you, Sam. But it will take several weeks or more to do. You know how if you go on a diet, your stomach capacity will shrink because you are just not eating as much? Well, how about, as Gretchen and I suggested, just don't eat anymore Cheat Day binge amounts, just eat like you normally would on SCD for several weeks. I bet that after so long your stomach will shrink enough that if you WERE to go on another binge, your stomach MAY not be able to take it physically anymore and you'd stop naturally instead of binging? Plus, just the weeks of eating SCD+a few white carbs for several weeks could snap you out of the whole cheat day mentality and into a "way of eating for life" type thing. Try it!

  • Sam Green commented Feb 9th 2012:

    @Akane, thank you for your advice! I agree, I need to stick to my maintenance plan now that my weight has been stable for the last three days. It went down 0.2lbs on Tuesday, up 0.2 lbs Wednesday after adding back in an apple mid morning and a handful of berries midafternoon ( the ONLY sweet thing I allow myself- so having something healthy and sweet in small amount every day is really helpful, and I don't feel the urge to eat anymore since they are full of fibre and nutrients unlike junk) and it has stayed the same today. I'll see if it stays the same today!

    Hopefully sticking to maintenance for the next few weeks will rid my body of the sugar addiction by letting it get used to maintenance- I'll keep you posted on how it goes over the next few weeks.

  • Sam Green commented Feb 9th 2012:

    So hopefully it should be as simple as it currently is- that I am able to eat beans with every meal, a sweet potato or some other low-glycaemic starch with lunch and an apple/handful of berries a day. This is a plan that leaves me full of energy and never hungry! The calories yesterday were 2500, so if I stay in the 2200-2500 range (depending on the day- I did a lot of activity yesterday) it'll all balance itself out :)

  • Gretchen Linden commented Feb 9th 2012:

    Sounds good. I think it helps to remember that SCD (near Paleo) IS "normal eating" and had been for all of man's history until we "smart ones" came along and mucked it all up with all the processed foods and sugar. So, continue eating all those things (meats, eggs, veggies, legumes and maybe a fruit here and there) with only minimal, occasional "non-foods" (chocolates, ice cream, chips/crisps etc) and you should be fine in all respects -- physically and emotionally/psychologically -- in relation to food.

  • Sam Green commented Feb 10th 2012:

    I agree- once the plan becomes a habit it just comes natural to me, that's why I am vulnerable when I do hit obstacles. In a few weeks I will be able to say that I am 100% comfortable and happy/content with myself, my eating and my variation of natural foods that I love. That was the ultimate goal :)


Canada flag

Why don't you try a cheat meal...say at lunch so you have the rest of the day to burn it off. Have it every six days so you aren't too far between treats. Don't go wild but indulge a little. Or maybe try to have healtier snacks throughout the day like fruit and yogurt. If all of the stuff you binge on makes you feel like garbage then skip it. Or you could pick one really crappy thing and just have a small amount. Since this diet is all about "hacking your body" to see what works for you maybe the crazy calorie fest isn't working for your body. It's time to try a new approach to cheat day :) It can be a new little experiment!

  • Sam Green commented Feb 8th 2012:

    Yep- crazy calorie fest for my body now means more cravings the next few days, so getting less carbs will definitely be helpful. I will try this out , but I want to go a couple of weeks without any cheats now to get all the 'addictions' and 'cravings' out of my system

    Even Tim says he only goes 'hog wild' maybe once a month, so perhaps 1-2 cheat meals a month and 1 cheat day a month would be better. 'Experimental hacking' is a great way to describe this process- thanks!

  • chubbycheeks commented Feb 8th 2012:

    you'll figure it out :) it just sucks to feel so crappy after all that sugary deliciousness! I have the same problem. I eat total crap and then feel like garbage but it's all i dream about all week. I'm not seeing great results doing that so i need to "experimentally hack" myself this cheat day. Let us know how it goes!

  • Sam Green commented Feb 9th 2012:

    I will do! I totally agree- time to get my body off the sugar addictions once and for all! I managed to beat it for some time last year, I went 6months without any sugar and never felt better, so this time I know that I can go longer periods without 'cheats' :)


Ireland flag

This is an extremely difficult habit to break (as I am finding out) and, in my opinion, the biggest downfall of SCD. It is initially very effective and appealing but it's effectiveness soon wears off as one approaches a goal weight.

I think Tim's ultimate goal was to foster a spirit of healthy eating and self control as well as experimentation. Sometimes i think he underestimated people's psychological attachment to food!

I think you know the answer to your own question. It's extremely difficult to break but I am having some success at present having a small dessert after my main meals on heavy training days (x3 a week). Best of luck.


  • Sam Green commented Feb 10th 2012:

    Thank you for your advice- I will try out the prospect of just having a cheat meal or dessert once or twice a week once my weight has been stable enough over the next few weeks- not until my sugar addictions are under control though ;)

    Tim's problem is that he didn't tell anyone how they are supposed to keep it off, he expects us to figure it out for ourselves. Ultimately this is the case, but not anywhere in the book is a section on maintaining SCD.. he also only shows what is best for fat loss, so it does underestimate people's food values too.

    It'll take some time, but eventually we'll know how to maintain our body composition the way we like it :)


United-States flag

SamGreen - I have to say I'm impressed w/ your cheat day binge! I had previously thought of you as son controlled and restrictive. One of the reasons I'm stopping this diet (besides the fact that I'm basically at my goal weight) is b/c I think the cheat day promotes unhealthy binging habits. I've been trying to stop the diet now for two weeks and every time I say I'm not going to cheat excessively on the weekends, I wind up doing it anyway out of habit. Then I'm forced to be ultra restrictive during the week to try to make up for it and not gain much weight.

My advice to you is the same as to myself. Try to start your 'cheat day' as just a normal day - eating non-SCD foods but not binging or eating tons of junk. Maybe allow yourself one dessert that day. If you are successful in this one day, do it again...THE NEXT DAY - don't wait a week. Keep doing this day after day as long as you don't binge. Work in your cravings one at a time (having a dessert every day or two). This is a healthly way of eating and you should be able to maintain no problem this way. Obviously you should monitor your weight just to make sure you don't start gaining - but I doubt you will if you keep your overall calories in control.

Good luck and keep me posted as to how it goes!


United-States flag

Try not to get into a habit of eating like this too often. I was doing incredibly well on the SCD for several months, hit my goal weight and low body fat and failed miserably on maintenance because I was eating like it was cheat day everyday. I'd try to go back to eating 1400 calories + SCD rules and then go right back to binge eating because of the bad cheat day cravings.

I ate just as much if not more than what you ate for a full month (and then some more ) and all the weight I lost plus extra got piled on really fast. (heck I couldn't fit into my "fat pants")

It got to a point where I could keep shoveling in food and my brain essentially turned off the function that told me I shouldn't eat anymore. (seriously, I was noshing non stop for 10 hours straight, sometimes hitting the 10,000 calorie mark. I was eating like a bulimic without the vomiting part)

All that insulin spiking can't be good for you health wise. You're still young but you do want to think about your long term health so even if I was upping the calories during the week with small cheats, I would advise not to binge eat like that every week.

  • Sam Green commented Feb 10th 2012:

    I agree that sugar addiction is like any narcotic drug addiction- you start needing more and more of it to get the same 'hit'. The higher your blood sugar goes the lower the low you hit a few hours later- which makes resisting the urge to eat more sugar extremely difficult until you get the sugar addiction in control.

    The constant extreme highs and lows can lead to insulin resistance- which is not good :P That's why it' time to get rid of the sugar addictions once and for all- it's been 6 days, the worst is over and I'm starting to feel a lot better not eating sugar and would rather not refuel the addiction again I won't have any cheats until I can control myself with sugar :)

  • Sam Green commented Feb 10th 2012:

    I can totally relate to yo yoing too- I got to 124lbs in July then ended up 162lbs by 15/10/11, and currently am 130lbs- where I have been holding steady in maintenance for the last few days. Overall I have lost 100lbs , but it has been through one long yo yo saga in the last 2 years.

  • Maria Rider commented Feb 10th 2012:

    I hate YO YO-ing!! Stop the Yo Yo NOW! :) For me, I call it the Rollercoaster.....STOP THE ROLLERCOASTER I WANNA GET OFF! :) And aboard the SKINNY EXPRESS! CHOO CHOO! :)

  • yarnphreak commented Feb 11th 2012:

    Akane, yo-yoing? From the looks of it, you're weight has been going nowhere but down. I can't believe how much you've lost. Congrats!

  • Maria Rider commented Feb 12th 2012:

    Yarn, I was mostly speaking of my weight loss past(before the 2011-2012 attempt) Basically from when I left college until April 2011(when I started SCD) :) LOTS of Yo-Yoing and rollercoaster riding going down 40, up 50 down and up......thus, I am on the Skinny Express now and it isn't stopping! :)

  • Sam Green commented Feb 12th 2012:

    WOOO! Don't stop- you'll be at the Skinnyville station before you know it ! :)


United-States flag

On my last cheat day I went overboard. I didn't gain a ton of weight from it and was able to lose it again fairly easily - but the mentality of the day scared me a little, I felt like I was on a rampage eating my way through everything I could get my hands on.

I've done a few cheat days where it was scheduled on a work day, so I had the normal SCD breakfast and lunch and didn't have access to everything in the world, and that naturally limited the damage to a 4 hour window.

Today I'm trying a different tactic because I want to go to an indian buffet lunch but not go nuts for the rest of the day. I'm going to set up some 4hb food in the crockpot so for the rest of the afternoon and evening the smell of that will be all through the house tempting me, and it will be the most accessible food.

  • yarnphreak commented Feb 12th 2012:

    Indian buffets are awesome because one can get away with it on a non SCD day (just avoid the naan and rice and potatoes and pile up on their green salad). I try to steer social occasions to Indian buffets so I can eat without seeming picky about the whole low carb thing. (I've brought a giant container of mixed greens to an Indian buffet before. I asked the owner if that was alright and of course he was fine with it since I'd be eating less of his food but looked at me really funny)


United-States flag

Feeling like I really understand where you are coming from tonight! I was supposed to have a "cheat meal" today, which I did successfully for lunch. However, I then ended up turning today into a full cheat day, which I'm not supposed to do as I am trying to be on the last mile. I think I'll end up losing this next week still, just probably not as much as if I were able to limit myself. (Totally agreeing/feeling @Beorn86 's answer here too)

One thing I was remembering today is that sugar/sweets stimulate the brain by activating beta endorphin receptor sites (these are the same chemicals activated by heroin and morphine). So if you feel (like I did tonight) -that you just CAN'T help yourself, in part you are struggling with the strong emotions/feelings of pleasure and addiction to the sweet in your brain. (For anyone with people in their family with actual alcohol/other drug addictions in your family (as I have) I don't mean to downplay that with sugar analogy).

Long term, I think my goal is to live 90% SCD with occasional fruits, dairy, and a sweet or two on days I train/workout more added in. For now -I think in order to reduce to just 1 cheat meal (which for me really is 1 meal and 1 dessert), I'm going to make it Saturday night (so I don't do it all day Saturday, and right now I don't seem to be quite strong enough to have a cheat lunch and be able to close the floodgates:) We'll see how it goes.

Good luck and let us know how things go! We're all rooting for you!

  • Sam Green commented Feb 13th 2012:

    Thank you for your kind response! I realize that sugar/carb addiction is exactly the same as a drug addiction- except that sugar/carbs are completely legal and the temptation is always everywhere.

    The main thing is that we DON'T want to eat them- but we can't help it unless we get the addiction under control. We WILL get the addiction under control -it just takes patience, motivation and willpower to get there. But beating the addiction it is so worth it! :)

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