Free Day Question

  • Hey again everyone -

    I hope you all aren't getting sick of me with all my questions haha.  I have successfully completed 3 days - WOOO HOO (just kidding, but I have been going strong these past 3 days without cheating).


    Anyway, I am really looking forward to my free day on Sunday.  Is it true that you can eat ANYTHING you want?  If I am going STRICT for the 6 days, if I HAPPENED to binge on my free day (chinese buffet, ice cream, you name it), would it mess up my progress for the past 6 days?  Let me know for those who completed their transformation how it went. Thanks!!


  • Mr. Teach - BFLMike was a smart man - he answered so many questions so well. I wanted to share his post as he explans things better than I can. I hope this helps.

    And btw - there is never too many questions, or silly questions.

    A Case Against Free Days that are too Free!

    by: Michael Harris 4/1/2007

    Contrary to popular belief, you cannot eat all you want on free day without consequences. The BFL diet is simply a numbers game as far as food is concerned. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain. For most of us, that gain will be represented by fat. If we’re working out very hard, it might be represented by some muscle, but for most it’s fat, or a mix of fat and muscle.

    Take a look at the average female diet. If the average female needs 2000 calories a day, (what a 38 year old 125 pound 5’4" female of moderate physical activity needs)and she is eating the six small meals a day, averaging about 260 calories each, she is creating a "deficit" of 2640 calories a week for the six days. Now, if to lose a pound means negative 3500 calories, she is burning up about 2/3 of a pound a week. BUT, on free day, let’s say she starts with 4 strips of bacon, a Belgian waffle with syrup and butter, orange juice and coffee. That alone is 785 calories. She then has a McDonald’s quarter pounder, large fries and medium coke for lunch. That’s 1130 calories. For dinner, a single sized supreme pizza, thick crust, 1024 calories, plus another coke, 160 calories. Then, a cup of chocolate chip ice cream to top the day off. 540 calories. Total calories for a very average free day: 3639. This, however, removes 2079 calories from the deficit built up earlier, meaning that the projected weight loss for that week, instead of 2/3 of a pound is closer to 1/6 of a pound. That would be a whopping 2 pound loss projected for 12 weeks! If she didn’t take a free day, she’d lose 7 more pounds, because she would be saving over 25,000 calories.

    Now, I’ll grant you that she might burn an additional 200 calories a day due to exercise, but notice that I’m assuming that this female is very strict during her weekly dieting. And I doubt that occurs with most of us!

    So how does Bill Phillips do it and why does he recommend a free day? Well, Bill does take a free day like that on occasion, but he’s in optimal shape, not gaining or losing much under our example above, right? But you, who are trying to get to look like him, also end up not gaining or losing much. I think that Bill hoped free day would help us feel in charge of our lives, that we could have our favorite foods and not feel deprived, and that we would alter our destructive eating habits as they go on. What Bill didn’t allow for (my opinion only) is how many people doing BFL would have eating disorders, and would go bonkers on the free day! And for them, it never changes–in fact for many this ends up being two or three free days! This often kills the transformation entirely.

    BUT, what about the "refeeding" concept—the idea that you have to feed your body more than enough on occasion, or it will go into starvation mode and shut down the metabolic rate so you quit losing? Well, certainly eating one day a week at the normal calorie requirement level, or slightly above it, ought to do that nicely shouldn’t it? I am not aware of a study anywhere on normal subjects (versus anorexics) that shows that this theory really is valid. All information is largely anecdotal. Even if it DID work, is there really an excuse for way overloading the system, especially with all the greasy, heavy, easily-stored-as-fat foods that so many of us eat?

  • .... i guess i won't be able to binge on Sunday then haha  =)

  • With all due respect to BFLMike I have to say I disagree, BFLMike whilst a very valued opinion is just that an opinion, I think you should follow the program as written especially if this is your first challenge and on your freeday you eat as MUCH or as LITTLE as you like, your free to do what YOU want, your freeday is unique to you.Mike may be right in what he said regarding losing a little more fat over a 12 week period if you dont take a freeday but this program is suposed to be a lifestysle not just for 12 weeks and having a freeday makes it much more susstanable over a longer period of time

  • Let's forget about how an all out free day will impact your fat loss for a moment and focus on the lifestyle.  Binge eating is not part of a healthy lifestyle!  It's not a habit we should have for life and harmful in many different ways.  Having all out free days also actually make it less likely we'll make this a lifestyle so it's not accurate to say it makes it more sustainable on the program.  There's good studies on the physiological effects of eating large quantities of certain things, like sugar.  It's addictive and that's why so many end up cheating on Monday, what is often the day after free day.  The insulin spikes and crashes cause issues with energy and mood, even depression.  That's not making anyone more likely to be able to do this.  

    Having a reasonable free day would make it more sustainable for more people, but let's get real here.  Never is there a time when binging is okay.  I still struggle with that and know that this lifestyle will be more effective, sustainable and healthy once I get it under control.  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • i am disciplined in the fact that i will eat STRICT 6 days a week, but on Sunday I could eat whatever I wanted and then be totally fine for Monday (I wrestled in school and I HAD to be disciplined with my weight or I wouldn't be able to compete in the matches).  

    by binge, I don't mean eat 5 tubs of ice cream.  i just mean eat whatever i feel like that day  - whatever that may be and whatever quantity that may be.

    so then jess, is that still against the transformation process to do ?  will i lose gains?  thanks jess!

  • There are many variations, but you are likely fine.  I take my free day.  I think most people do, including most BFL Champions.  

    Will you lose gains?  That depends on how much you have.  If we are talking an extra 500 or even 1000 calories (just using that as a measure we can all understand) then I don't believe you will be harmed one bit.  What if you go crazy and have an extra 1500 calories?  That's not best, but you still won't kill it, but you can expect to stall out about a 1/2 pound.  In that case it has a lot to do with your emotional connection to food so if you're okay the next day then okay.  Also do remember that your body will now work the next few days on that crap, instead of making new progress so it's not just about the calories themselves.  It's best to keep it within reason, at about 500-100 additional calories.  Have the buffet and the ice cream, just not all day.  

    Some people really do binge on free day on BFL and that's not what Bill Phillips meant, nor anticipated.  Some argue they can because he didn't list rules about it, but that's just people trying to justify really bad behavior and I've been one of them.  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • Eat what you want, but try to do it in moderation.   Still try to exercise portion control, but go ahead and have some 'bad' stuff...  I'm into my 2nd challenge, have to look and see how far, since while it's 'officially' a challenge in my mind, I'm not tracking it as closely as I did my first one.  I'm down about 15 or so more lbs from the first one, which puts me at 50 lbs lost.   In that time I've probably had 4 flat out FREE days, and the other free days I ate what I wanted but in moderation.. Meaning we had pizza (usually on sundays was always 'pizza day' with our family).. So on the FREE days I ate as much as I could... felt like crap the next 3 days, etc etc.. The other free days I would still have pizza, but just a slice or maybe 2 as opposed to 1/2 a pizza :)  I also find myself wanting to stuff myself less and less, and dont crave 'bad' stuff nearly as often.   Now, dont get me wrong, I DO still get cravings, and I do NOT ignore them, but try to feed them in either a healthy way, or a very portion conscience way.   For example, on the way to work this AM after a normal workout, normal breakfast, I was just still hungry... Well it wasnt so much hunger as just wanting something sweet for breakfast.   So I did got McD's and got a breakfast biscuit... one of the bad ones for you :).. Not suggested, if you are on your first challenge, but to use an old adage I'd much rather trip on the stairs and keep on going with just a skinned knee, as opposed to fall all the way down the stairway, which is what I'm afraid would happen if you ignore those cravings too often.  

    Sorry about the rambling :)

  • I am on week 4 and I have eaten what I want on free day and continue to lose. I have seen people on here say they have eaten 7,000 calories on their free day. That is crazy. However, it's not reasonable to say that you can never eat a chinese buffet or ice cream again. Have a taste of the stuff you want, a reasonable meal and eat till you're satisfied but not overstuffed. For me it gives me the mental break I need. Also as marathonmama put it so well, your next free day is never more than 6 days away so you don't really need to eat as if it's your last meal.

  • thank you ALL for all the insights - what a great group.   one more question though (once again, sorry about all the questions):  Philips says in his book if you know you have a wedding or some event to attend where you will get junk, then save your free day for that day of the week.   but, if my free day for the week is Sunday, and then the following week I make my free day Wednesday, isn't that too close to my last week's free day?

    sorry if that doesnt make sense.  hopefully you can follow =)

  • don't be sorry about asking questions

    your free day is 1x per week and whatever day you choose.  don't worry if one is on a Sunday and your next is Wednesday.  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • What do you want to get out of your free day? A mental break from your strict weekly routine and the chance to enjoy some of the foods you don't normally eat or to gorge yourself till you are sick just because you can?

    Have you ever noticed that eating 1 slice of a really decadent dessert tastes better than one of everything off a dessert buffet? Sometimes limiting yourself to what you really want is more enjoyable than gorging just to gorge.

    I would ask yourself what you are craving and eat the fun foods in moderation. If you find you are simply craving larger quantities of food that day, fill up on larger portions of healthy foods. Through my first challenge, I had different types of free days. Strict free days, binge free days, moderation free days, no junk free days. The nice thing about the program is if you do have one of thos days where your free day turns into a "eat everything in the house" day, you should just get over it and move on instead of throwing in the towel. But I would aim for learning how to control even your free days so you don't fall into the "well I've blown my diet because of one cookie, might as well eat the whole bag" mentality.

    In my opinion, the free day is not meant to be an excuse to gorge on unhealthy foods just because a program allows it. If you are craving pizza, go for it. If you are satisfied with that, don't chase the pizza down with a pint of ice cream just because it is your free day and you can. I call this the "last super" mentality. Haha. Where you eat everything you can and know you won't get to eat while dieting even if you don't really want it. Remember, you are never more than 6 days from your next free day. Listen to what your body really wants.

  • Does anyone have any advice/tips on how to make sure you don't binge on your free day? I find that I do have the Last Supper Mentality. Stuff I normally would never eat I just stuff into my mouth because it's my free day and I better do it now or else I can't for another 6 days! I think that my free day is causing me to not have as much success as I had hoped. Nearing the end of my 11th week. Will definitely need to do another challenge but would like to get my free days under control. My biggest cravings are for sweets not so much meals.


  • bhpink

    The question is have you made progress? I actually think your being too hard on yourself, for a person to go from a seditery lifestyle and starting working out intensely 6 days a week and eating clean 6 days a week even if your freedays are binges is a still a great achievement, be proud of your achievement so far, finish the 12 weeks and just start another one

  • Good question bhpink

    It's really important to get that under control and such a struggle for most of us.  I learned to do better by doing special meals, meant to celebrate a person and my time with them, not the food.  Also, to ask myself why I was eating something.  

    During the week we don't ask why because everything is so controlled, planned and regimented.  It's important to ask yourself on free day WHY.  

    For me, the real progress was not my after picture, but when I was able to answer that question.  


    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!