What to Do When You Blow Your Calorie Budget

by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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What to Do When You Blow Your Calorie Budget

So you splurged … now what? Should you just throw in the towel and continue on with your day of indulgence: tall stack of pancakes for breakfast, all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch, and dessert after dinner? Not so fast.

Before you beat yourself up for blowing it, or find yourself stuck in a day of gluttony, check out these steps to get back on track when you’ve blown your calorie budget.


One meal or day of overeating won’t have a big impact on progress, but a week or month of splurging can definitely set you back. Instead of tossing in the towel and starting over tomorrow, begin eating right at your next meal. The whole day or week isn’t a wash with a little indulgence—just get right back on track, and you will feel good that you did.


If you slip up and fall off the wagon, regain focus on the reason you’ve set these goals in the first place. Are you training for an upcoming marathon? Is it to look stunning as you walk down the aisle at your wedding? Do you want to be fit and healthy to chase your grandkids around? Keep a positive outlook! Remember that this is a journey, after all, and it will be full of peaks and valleys.


OK, so you blew it; it’s now time to find out why. Were those chocolate chip cookies in your pantry calling your name? Did you forget how to say no to the bottle of wine your friend wanted to split at dinner?

When you blow your calorie budget, assess if external pressures are to blame. If the cookies in your pantry are too tempting, don’t bring them inside the house. If you find yourself eating (or drinking) for social reasons, maybe it’s time to practice standing up for yourself and embracing the power of “no.”


So you know you’re going to have cheesecake at dinner? Don’t skip that workout! Make sure to get in some extra steps and go harder during your workout if you know that you may need a bigger calorie budget that day. Plus, a little extra sweat sesh isn’t a bad thing either.


Even if you might have blown your calorie budget by lunch or ate too much all day long, don’t skip your next meal or severely restrict calories the following day to make up for the splurge. Restriction will likely backfire and can set you up for a cycle of blowing the budget. Skipping meals creates ravenous hunger and, at that point, everything in sight might look good!

Instead of amending the budget by cutting calories from another meal or day, just chalk it up as a small splurge and continue on with your healthy eating plan.


Lifestyle changes are not easy, so make sure that you have enough support to create lasting change. Maybe you need to consult with a professional like a dietitian to address your nutrition habits or a counselor to discuss emotional eating and barriers to change. Confide in a friend that you trust and let her know your goals, so hopefully next time she won’t even ask to split a bottle of wine, or tempt you with dessert. Engage in the community on MyFitnessPal to get virtual support from like-minded people who can motivate you to stay on track.

Splurges are a normal part of a healthy living routine; just keep them in moderation so that they don’t hinder your progress!


  • Jo

    How do you stop being so depressed about your weight while you’re working so hard to change it? I’m finding it hard not to think about how much time I have left to do this to get results

    • Steph

      Start small. Instead of thinking ‘I have to loose 10kg’, change to ‘I can loose 500gr this week’

    • Kay

      Hi Jo I felt the same until I,got on the scales today and had to stand on ithem twice to make sure where correct and yes they are I feel great now, so don’t give up. I stayed the same weight for 4weeks and have lost this week. Kay

    • Laura

      Hi Jo, You should try the Clean 9 detox plan from Forever Living I lost 10lb in 9 days and felt fantastic after its a great way to kick start any weight loss plan detoxing the body can aid weight loss when you have hit a plateau if you’re interested email me @ porgalicious@hotmail.co.uk xx

      • Teresa Boatwright

        The Clean 9 is great. I’ve finished mine and feel great! I only lost 5lbs but I’ve lost 2lb a week since! It opens your eyes to eating properly and the Hairy Bikers diet recipe book is great.

    • Wissywig

      Jo, unfortunately you can’t speed up the results of weight loss, but if you’re looking for a way to stay motivated, I found that lifting weights REALLY helped. You get pretty quick results which you can see. I found that toning up with free weights helped me stay on track. That was 1 year and 33 lbs ago and I’m still on track.

      I hope this helps…

    • Diana

      That’s how I feel! It feels like a mountain to climb and I feel like every time I get higher up I go back to the bottom and then get heavier each time!

    • Ed Hagerty

      I guess you have to assess what you’re doing to lose weight is right or wrong. For myself I was referred first to a Diabetic Specialist and then a nutritionist and thank God I’m not doing the insanity of counting calories, I count how many grams of Carbohydrates I eat per day 60 for breakfast and 60 for dinner and I try to get in a 30 gram snack in the early afternoon, I also exercise by walking and not just 15 minutes a day, but initially 1.6 miles, then I doubled that and now I’m walking 5 miles or more a day. As far as losing weight, REMEMBER the first 10 pounds are the easiest pounds you’ll ever lose. I lost 11 pounds the first two weeks on my diet plan, then 6 pounds the second two weeks and I’m on goal to lose another 6 or so pounds the third two weeks. With my loss of weight my doctor has reduced my Insulin dose. Also a little tip, we all like chocolate, but try not to eat MILK CHOCOLATE, eat an 1/8th of a cup of Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips one at a time or eat an ounce of Dark Chocolate, 70% Cocoa Butter or higher, its bitter tasting, but better for you.

    • scotty223

      I was recently diagnosed with type II insulin resistant diabetes. I have lost over 30 lbs in a month, and have quit smoking and adjusted my lifestyle to adapt to this new little complication in my life.

      I struggle with keeping my head up. Like you, I look at myself and just want the results, and don’t want to wait for them to get here.

      A great friend of mine, that is a parole officer and all around fitness guru told me that the key to staying on and making a change is to not obsess on where your going, but. Appreciate what you have done.

      I know I have another 100lbs to loose. And it’s heart breaking when I look at myself and realize I’m a piece of sh##, but if I let myself do that, and don’t recalibrate myself to what I have done I’ll just get depressed and quit.

      Instead, I have to remember that whether it’s one more step or 7 more miles, 1 calorie less or 1000, I’m improving and getting better, and for the first. Time in my life I’m becoming proud of myself, not just the changes, but also of who I

      • scotty223

        Am. Sorry, post broke up into two pieces.

        My 14 day BGL is 107.
        I’m down 30+ lbs
        Quit smoking

        It’s all possible, but not overnight. Take the time to appreciate you for you, and appreciate what you have done.

        And get some support.

  • Jim Butt

    I’m surprised there wasn’t a comment that tools like MyFitnessPal provide the best support for occasionally overeating. MFP helps you learn that that last meal is not your last and you still have a lifetime of meals to make it up. Did that meal slow your progress or disrupt your plans, no problem. Make it up next time and never get down, because there, hopefully, is always a next meal.

  • Greg Dahlen

    I would like to advocate my diet: for about six years now, I’ve been living on milk. Every day I drink about two gallons of skim cow milk, and hardly eat or drink anything else. It has been great for my health, I do excellently on my yearly physical, I maintain a weight of 160 pounds at six feet, one inch. When you get lighter this way, you feel more like exercising.

  • Lana889

    Hello MyFitnessPal community, I wanted to ask for some advice regarding my current situation. I was successfully following my diet up until finishing high school, when I decided to let go a little bit starting college so as to not seem uptight when making new friends. Unfortunately, since I guess I was severely restricting myself during my diet ( I had to go see a doctor about it) I started overindulging to the point where I eat because of habit and not because I’m hungry. I already gained ten pounds, and I find it hard to get back on track like the first time I went on a diet. How do I train myself again so I don’t automatically think of getting dessert every time I finish a meal?

    • kestrel x

      Hello! I’m sorry you had to go to the doctor to sort out your health problms. It’s possible that your previous restriction dieting caused metabolical damage. I recommend you research repairing your metabolism or metabolic damage. When I was in high school, I also dieted to an unhealthy level. When I would come out of these diets, I would binge crazily & gain weight. Or if I fast for spiritual reasons (which I find very helpful for my spiritual practice), I find I overeat in the days following the fast. For this reason, I think many nutritionists recommend maintaining a healthy, balanced and well proportioned diet.

      Another simple trick that I find helpful is filling up on plant based foods, and eating plenty of healthy fats like avocados.

    • Greg Dahlen

      well, if I’m with friends and they ask if I want dessert and I really don’t want it I just say “No, thanks, it looks good but I’m trying to stay skinny.” Or “no thanks, I’m just not hungry.”

  • Margit

    I find you can spiral out of control if you try to make up for it by undereating after you overeat. I try to have the mindset of starting over, like pretend it’s the first day of your diet, because when you started the diet, you didn’t start by trying to makeup for a lifetime of bad days, you just started it. So just start the diet again, like it was your first day. It will still be a little easier than when you really first started since you’re already used to it.

  • That’s impressive.


    Really great advice!

  • KstewKrew

    Blow your calorie budget….. Really? Who cares about calories. Eat within your macros…. Fat, carb, protein allowance and you shouldn’t have a calorie problem. As a matter of fact… I have calories left over. Calorie counting… Waste of time.

    • Gruene Fee

      Not everything that works for you works for everyone. And I think it’s safe here to say, “blow your PLAN,” whatever that plan might be.
      Glad you found something that works for you. 🙂

      • Kstewkrew

        Wow. Hateful much. That’s right you don’t know my plan. It’s called counting your macros. You should try it sometime. Don’t slam something until YOU have tried it. Rude.

        • Gruene Fee

          Oh man. Is yoga part of your plan? Maybe it should be. Bring that heart rate down a bit. Breathe it out.

    • Jerome Barry

      Counting calories and counting macros are like 11. Whether read left to right or right to left the answer is still 3.

      • A Poe

        Exactly, they’re essentially the same thing considering that calories on nutritional labels is calculated by each macronutrient multiplied by the Atwater factors. So by counting macros you are already counting calories to begin with, just indirectly.

    • Joshua

      Calorie counting isn’t a waste of time if it’s effective. I’ve lost over 20lbs since late July, and am 1/3 of the way towards hitting my goal. It’s all been accomplished through extremely minimal exercise and limiting my caloric intake while not abolishing any foods from my diet altogether. There may or may not be more effective ways of losing weight, but I’ve done so at a rate I’m extremely satisfied with, so that can hardly be called a waste of time.

    • A Poe

      You realize calories are calculated from macronutrients? So by counting macros you are counting calories anyways, just not assigning the 4-4-9 Atwater values to carb / protein / fat. Clueless.

  • Hensq

    Thank you for this! For the past month I have been overeating without any control to it, due to losing my beloved dog, but this article made me believe that I can get back on track.

    • Ann Grant

      Hensq, I am so sorry about your dog. I hope you heal and remember the good times.

  • Jimmy NoChit

    I apply the lessons I learned when I quit smoking. I did not quit smoking forever, I only concentrated on beating one craving at a time. Each time I fought off a craving, they got weaker, and farther apart. Until next thing I knew, I hadn’t smoked in 10 years.

  • Cerlina

    Thank you so much for this!!!! I use to have cheat days… but that went totally out of control… now I have cheat moments… that works much better for me… I don’t feel as bad… Thanks again this was a wonderful article!!!! 🙂

  • Mr. William Davis

    The timing of this article was perfect. I’ve been on a pretty good and strict path, and have lost 37 pounds since May 2017. Very pleased with my progress. But lately, I feel hungry a lot more than I have. And while I eat well, I have started a cookie binge. Which isn’t something I typically do. But man those shortbread cookies hit the spot. And after I’ve eaten them, I realize I will need to work that much harder to undo what I just did. If anyone has any recommendations to help me curb my hunger, I am open to them. Thanks.