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My years in the fitness racket have taught me many things about people, and one of them is that binge eating is far more common than I previously realized.
In many cases, it’s prompted by extreme forms calorie restriction like water fasting, detox diets, and the like, and in others, it’s the result of bad eating habits developed on the way to becoming overweight.
Binge eating isn’t just a problem for overweight people, though. There are many fit people out there, usually ones trying to maintain very low levels of body fat for one reason or another (social media, usually), who binge and purge rather regularly.
Regardless of how fit or fat someone is, however, bingeing is a problem, and even when it’s done more “strategically” by drastically undereating for a period before or after a binge to keep body fat levels generally in an acceptable range.
That approach can work for maintaining a nice looking body composition, of course, but it’s unsustainable and unhealthy, both physically and psychologically. It takes its toll, which often includes eating and body disorders.
That’s why I invited Carter Good to come on the show. Carter lost 140 pounds—partly with the help of my Bigger Leaner Stronger program—and now has a large following built mostly through sharing simple, effective, science-based weight loss strategies and runs a successful fat loss coaching service.
One of the biggest obstacles Carter ran into in his journey from 305 to 165 pounds was binge eating, and as you’d expect, many of his clients come to him struggling with it as well. In this interview, he’s going to share his most helpful observations, recommendations, and insights on how to beat binge eating once and for all.
In this episode, you’ll learn . . .
- What binge eating actually is (how it differs from simply overeating)
- How much binge eating actually slows fat loss
- The most common factors that lead to binge eating
- Effective mental strategies for preventing binge eating
- What to do after a binge (because we all fall off the wagon now and then)
- And more
Click the player below to listen:
8:07 – How do you define binge eating?
12:48 – What are common factors that cause binge eating?
14:07 – How do you help people work through binge eating?
26:45 – How do you prevent binge eating?
34:41 – How do you help people work through the guilt of binge eating?
39:26 – Are there any outlets to prevent emotional eating?
54:53 – Where can people find you and your work?
Mike : [00:00:28] Hey, Mike Matthews here from Muscle For Life and Legion Athletics, and welcome to a brand new episode of my podcast. Now, if I sound a little bit funny, it’s because I have been sick for a few days. I had a cold starting, I guess it started four days ago and I felt okay for the first two days, wasn’t too concerned about it, just skipped the gym and then it hit me for one day hard.
But I’m back and actually had a strangely good workout this morning. I thought it was gonna be shit because it usually is after I’m sick, but this time I felt strong, I gained a rep on two exercises, so I’ll take it. Must be the rest.
Mike : [00:01:10] Anyway, let’s get to today’s episode, which is all about binge eating. Now, my years in the fitness racket have taught me many things about people, and one of them is that binge eating is far more common than I previously realized. In many cases, it’s prompted by extreme forms of calorie restriction, like water, fasting, detoxing, and the like, and in others, it is the result of bad eating habits developed on the way to becoming overweight.
Binge eating is not just a problem for overweight people, though, there are many fit people out there, usually ones who are trying to maintain very low levels of body fat for one reason or another, social media usually, who binge and purge rather regularly. Regardless though, of how fit or fat someone is, bingeing is a problem and even when it is done more strategically by drastically under-eating for a period before or after a binge to keep body fat levels generally in an acceptable range. That approach can work well enough for maintaining a nice looking body composition, of course, but it is unsustainable and unhealthy, both physically and psychologically. It takes its toll, which often includes eating and body disorders.
Mike : [00:02:41] And all that is why I invited Carter Good to come on the show. Now, Carter has lost 140 pounds and my Bigger Leaner Stronger program played a role in that, which is pretty cool. That’s how I first met Carter, he reached out to me and shared his success story. And now Carter has a very large following of his own that he built mostly through sharing simple, effective, science-based weight-loss strategies, and he also now runs a successful fat loss coaching service.
Now, one of the biggest obstacles that Carter ran into in his personal journey from just over 300 pounds to about 165 pounds was binge eating. And as you would expect, many of his clients come to him struggling with it as well. In this interview, Carter shares some of his most helpful observations, recommendations, and insights on how to beat binge eating once and for all.
So in this episode, you are going to learn things like what binge eating actually is and how it differs from just overeating, how much binge eating actually slows fat loss, the most common factors that lead to binge eating, effective mental strategies for preventing it, what to do after a binge, because we all fall off the wagon now and then in our own ways, and for some people, that means a binge and that’s okay, there are things you can do about that and more.
Mike : [00:06:23] Carter, welcome to my little podcast, thanks for taking the time.
Cater: [00:06:26] Absolutely, man. Thanks for having me on.
Mike : [00:06:28] So today’s topic is binge eating, which is something I wrote about some time ago, it was probably a couple years ago and that article, I remember it doing well, better than I anticipated. I thought it was interesting to research and write, I just didn’t know, one if I was gonna be able to rank for it, because you’re going up against a lot of .gov and EDU and Healthline and massive websites, and two.
I just didn’t know if how much of a thing it was with the people in my orbit and in the fitness space in general, and I found out that it is actually a thing, of course, we know with the general population, but people that are into fitness, which seems a bit counterintuitive to, I guess, others who are on the outside looking in thinking like, “aren’t you people all about like being super healthy?
Binge eating is a problem in that community, how does that make any sense?” But I haven’t spoken about this really at all, so this is the first time, I think, that this topic is going to have been discussed on the podcast, so it should be good.
Cater: [00:07:24] Oh, yeah. And I think it’s, you know like you said, it’s funny how, you know, whatever term you use – because obviously and I’m sure we’ll make the distinction between, like, binge eating that is, you know, medically classified as like a binge eating and then people who are just overeating or struggling with it, right?
It’s kind of like a big blanket term that people use. But for sure, it is really interesting what you said right there at the end about the fitness community or people who are into fitness because it seems to be something that is very popular, and even with the whole thing around, you know, cheat meals and just how like they’re praised in some ways, it’s almost like a hidden form or like a cloak or something over actually just having this obsession with needing to pound food every once in a while, right?
Mike : [00:08:08] Yeah. I think we should probably start with: how are we defining bingeing? Because in the fitness community, it’s probable that how your average fitness person would define a binge, doesn’t exactly line up with how a doctor would define it.
Cater: [00:08:26] Yeah, very much so. I’d even say, even in just saying “fitness community”, but even just like a general population, like somebody who’s first getting into, you know, weight loss and stuff, I think there’s definitely a big separation between someone who has a binge eating disorder, like an actual eating disorder, right?
Mike : [00:08:44] What does that look like?
Cater: [00:08:46] So I would say, probably the major difference and I’ll say, I’m obviously not a doctor either, but I think that the major difference is that usually whenever I think people are talking about binge eating in terms of they’re trying to lose weight and stuff or whatever, it usually involves something like, going out to eat and then eating way over their calories and then maybe coming home or maybe like restricting the whole day and then coming home and then just kind of like letting loose;
Whereas I would say the medical definition of binge eating, just from what I perceive it as being, is more so something where it is like this insatiable need to consume ravenous amounts of calories and we’re talking, not just like going over a couple thousand calories, like six, seven, eight thousand calories.
And it’s usually at that point followed by a bingeing and purging cycle, and it’s usually much more focused on being hidden and being something deeply rooted in some type of reaction to something bad that’s happened in your life, right?
Mike : [00:09:39] I see. Yeah, I’ve come across – I’m trying to think, I’ve now emailed, mostly emailed, also through social media, but I mostly communicate with people, through email, – I mean, my inbox is over 100,000 emails sent received and I’ve come across, what seems to be semi-common and it seems to be more so with women than men, just based on my experience, where you’ll have people that are trying to lose weight and it’s usually when they’re cutting.
It seems, but sometimes not, it’s mostly when they’re trying to lose weight, and then it’s where a little bit of overeating turns into like three days of egregious overeating. So we’ll say that’s what we’re going to be talking about, because at least we can address that.
I think if we are going further than that into what might be considered true medical disorder, where it’s constant and compulsive, and again, I’ve actually researched a bit about this and written a bit about it, I just don’t think that – I don’t know how much we can do for it for that person in one conversation. What are your thoughts?
Cater: [00:10:45] I think that’s exactly right because usually in that situation you’re dealing with something that’s very specific to that person, right? Like their experiences in life, and I mean, that’s why, you know, there are psychiatrists and stuff like that, who would deal with an issue like that.
But back to what you were saying, binge eating, I normally just say overeating, right, or excessive eating just cause I think it’s a more realistic term to use, because it’s just something …
Mike : [00:11:09] I think it’s probably also better psychologically because binge eating sounds worse, and that matters. If you’re coming down on yourself, which a lot of people who have struggled to lose weight, or who are struggling to lose weight, or even are just new, getting into this newly, how they frame their thoughts matters in terms of the words that they use. So for you listening, if you tell yourself, “I ate too much last weekend,” or, “I ate way too much last weekend.” That has a different connotation than, “oh, I binged.”
Cater: [00:11:42] Yes absolutely.
Mike : [00:11:43] I would think, right? Because even that word carries just more weight, more negative weight than, you know, other ways that you could touch it.
Cater: [00:11:54] Oh, for sure. And that’s actually the first thing that, if I would be working with somebody with this or if somebody would come up to me and say, “I binged last night,” the first thing I would say is like, “first off, you didn’t binge last night. You went over your calories, whatever happened, it wasn’t a full-on binge, loss of control.”
Because that framing it is so very important for that because, you know, as we go, obviously through tips or whatever, suggestions on how to stop it or eliminate it or whatever, a lot of it is based around the mindset stuff. Most of the struggles that come from dieting is not the actual diet itself, it’s not the, you know, the things that you’re doing or the foods that you’re eating.
It’s more so your mindset and not being able to stick to the plan, right? Obviously, the plan that you’re following is going to have a big impact on how easy it is to stick to or adhere to, but usually, the problem is with adherence and that goes more to the mental side of things, which is why I think a lot of times overeating is really causing it.
Mike : [00:12:48] Yeah, sure, it makes sense. What are some of the typical things, what are some of the typical factors that precipitate a binge that causes it?
Cater: [00:12:57] Yeah, I would say probably the biggest three that I see with people I work with typically tend to be either one, an all or nothing type of mindset where – and this is, you know, the typical “yo-yo dieter” type of mindset where, you know, if they’re not doing everything perfectly and they slip up a little bit, it’s sort of like, “eff it, I’ll just keep going,” because it’s like an on and off type of switch, right? Where sometimes they’ll just keep on making it worse. That’s usually the first thing that happens because it’s in the moment.
Mike : [00:13:23] Yes, psychologists call that the, “what the hell effect,” like, “what the hell, I’ve already blown it, I might as well just go all out.”
Cater: [00:13:29] Yeah, that’s it. And then I would say another one is probably, honestly over restriction and that could be twofold, either in being over restricting calories, right, or over restricting even food choices, or at least your perception on how you’re restricting those foods, but that’s what I would say are probably.
I guess those are three, even though the last two are kind of coupled together, but probably over the restriction of either how many calories you’re eating or the types of foods that you’re eating and then the mindset of, sort of the perfectionist mindset that people are trying to achieve when they are losing weight.
Mike : [00:14:01] How do you generally help people, because those are very common. I’ve run across them a lot, again, just interacting with a lot of people, and how do you help people work through them?
Cater: [00:14:12] Yes, I would say the first thing that I do, I’m actually, I’m a big fan of, like, awareness of like, realities of overeating. So, like, you know, you can go into the science of, like, you know, 3,500 calories is a pound of fat and stuff like, I always like to remind people that they get so fixated on the one time that they go over their calories and they blow it out proportion mentally and saying that like, you know, “this is just a horrible thing that happened.”
I always like to kind of bring it back to reality and say, “okay, let’s look at this realistically.” Let’s say that they went over their calories by 2,000 calories or whatever, right? Like, let’s look at this realistically across the week and then imagine if tomorrow we got back on track like, how insignificant that would be, really helping people focus on the idea of consistency over perfection in that way.
I just noticed that if I can get somebody to do that once, where they will have a moment where they will overeat, or whatever it is, right, and go over their calories and they get right back on track and they physically see that, you know, the scale comes back down, that their progress still moves forward, it’s like a huge win because they actually see that taking place instead of letting.
Like, the mental fear of like, “oh, my gosh, I blew it,” that happening takeover. Because if I can somebody do that once, usually it’s something that, even if in the future they overeat again on an accident like it’s that thing where, “okay, I’ve done this before, I know if I get back on track that I can be right back to where I was in a short amount of time.”
Mike : [00:15:30] Yeah, logically, just deconstructing it makes sense. And what I’ve found, I’ve done the same thing many times, what I’ve found is that many people, they simply actually don’t know even that information that you just gave, they don’t know approximately how much energy is in a pound of fat and they don’t know that it’s not even that every excess calorie is stored as fat either.
That’s not how it works, and especially if you’re active and especially if you are consistently training your muscles and your body has other things to do with the excess calories that you eat, just simply understanding those things can diffuse a lot of the emotion that can be associated with – it’s the mystery, right?
It’s like, okay, they know they overate and they just don’t know now what’s happening in their body. Did they just set themselves back a week or was it two weeks? Did they just lose a whole month’s worth of progress? To somebody who’s more informed, that concept might sound ridiculous, but it’s not ridiculous if you just don’t know. And I understand because I remember when I first learned about energy balance and macronutrient balance.
And I was first – actually somebody, when I first, I would say, was introduced to it, I wasn’t really even told much about how it works, there was a bodybuilder, powerlifter who I met in a local Whole Foods like store when I was living in Florida, like a natural grocery store, kind of fancy gourmet grocery store, and got to know him, nice guy.
I was telling him – he was prepping for a show at the time, and I asked him, “how are you getting so lean?” And he said, “oh, you know, you just – hear what do you weigh? Here, eat this much protein, carbs. And fats every day and you’ll see …” And he might have explained a little bit more, but I was like, “okay, whatever, I’ll try it.”
And that was actually the first time, it took a bit, obviously, but the first time I got really lean, so he would tell me, “yeah, go out and have one meal a week,” you know, “just go out and have a nice dinner, eat whatever you want, really. Try not to go crazy, but don’t really worry about it.”
And so I remember at that time I went and got sushi, I was texting him after, like, “this is what I ate, does that make sense for my ‘cheat meal’ or ‘free meal’ or ‘nor-meal’, whatever you want, or is that a problem that I had, you know, a few spicy tuna rolls and some, moji?” And he would just laugh, he’d be like, “dude, it doesn’t matter.”
You know, in time, when I saw it work, that’s what really got my attention, I was like, “okay, I need to actually educate myself then. Why is this working, what’s going on?” Now, fast forward and I obviously know a lot more. And so the idea, though, that, “oh, I went to a restaurant and ate what really felt like a lot of food,” even though in my case that sushi example didn’t really like that much food, but we’ve all done that.
You go to a restaurant and you’re like, “damn, I ate a lot of food.” And if you don’t know anything in terms of the mechanics of what’s going on, I can understand feeling anxiety about, who knows, you know, because of also a lot of the misinformation out there, let’s say you eat a bunch of – you went to like an Italian place, you ate a bunch of pasta and then you ate a bunch of tiramisu,.
So it’s like all carbs, all sugar, and you throw some fat in there as well, and all you hear is that all of that equals fat. That you’re just gonna get fatter every gram of carb, every gram of sugar, and so you walk away from that going, “fuck! I’ve been doing this calorie restriction thing and it’s not too bad, but it’s kind of annoying, it’s not how I like to eat. I’ve been doing this for six weeks now and I go and have one dinner and now I restart?” Even though that’s not, you know, not possible, I can understand that.
Cater: [00:18:53] No, for sure it goes back to the whole thing, people, I always like, say this, like people overestimate what’s possible from one event of doing things or doing something, whether it’s good or bad. And people overestimate what’s, or I guess, like no one ever got back from eating, you know, one pizza slice and no one ever got skinny from eating one salad.
They overestimate that one event, but they underestimate the power of, you know, consistently doing something over time. And the reason why people struggle with weight in the first place is because they’re consistently eating too much. Maybe not on one day or two days a week, but over time, they’re consistently obviously eating more than their body needs.
Same thing with, like, weight loss, right? So that’s where I really think that disconnect is with that, are people just overestimate the damage that one meal can do. And then they let that one meal turn into a whole week or two whole weeks of sort of going on and off and on and off where then it can actually potentially become something where they are not doing it so frequently that it can start to reverse their progress or significantly slow them down.
Mike : [00:19:53] Yeah, and just to be clear, you can do a little bit of damage. In one meal it’s probably hard. You know, I wrote, well, no I didn’t, I have an editor, his name’s Armi, he’s like my editor in chief, he writes with me, we do a lot of the content planning together, so that article is written by him, published under his name, but it’s at Legion.
And it’s something along the lines of like, “how much fat can you really gain when you overeat?” And there’s no pat answer that we can find in the scientific literature, but there is definitely a limit to the amount of fat that your body can synthesize and create in a day and, you know, maybe it’s around a pound or pound and a half if you were just to be eating all day.
And in some people, it’s going to be less depending on, you know, genetics and activity level and stuff but in one meal, I’ve experienced this, so a couple of Thanksgivings ago, what I would do every year is, I would eat until – I stopped because it just got annoying – but I would eat until I was in pain like, until my stomach.
I had to just lie down just for fun, really, until I was like, “this hurts too much, this is not fun anymore. I need to stop, you know, well before this point.” But even then, doing that, I would notice basically no difference, because there’s a point where you know this I’m just saying for people listening that: your body stops absorbing nutrients and just shuts them out.
You’re giving your body so many calories and so many macronutrients, so many nutrients that it can’t even absorb them anymore and they just pass right through you as if they were fiber unabsorbed. So, yes, I ate, let’s say, 8,000 calories in one meal, legitimately, I remember the last time I did it I ate seven plates of food.
Cater: [00:21:34] Was that all just Thanksgiving food or are you throwing some dessert in there, too?
Mike : [00:21:38] Desert as, well, yeah, of course.
Cater: [00:21:39] Oh I was about to say that would be like pallet fatigue, even on Thanksgiving food, if it wasn’t like dessert stuff.
Mike : [00:21:43] Yeah. Yeah, no it was dessert stuff, too. But it was seven plates and you know, my body probably was able to process like half of that and the rest just came right through.
Cater: [00:21:53] Yeah, exactly right.
Mike : [00:21:54] So, you know, to put a number on it, I think it’s reasonable to say that if you really went to town and maybe if you threw some alcohol in, you could gain a pound, maybe give or take some in a day of excessive overeating.
Cater: [00:22:07] Yeah, no, for sure. And that’s the thing …
Mike : [00:22:09] And that’s a pound of fat, actually, I have to clarify that, because you may weigh a lot more the next day because of all the sodium and the water and the carbs which are going to fill you up with glycogen, right? So you might come in six pounds heavier the next day, but that’s not six pounds of fat.
Cater: [00:22:25] Exactly and what you just said like, that’s another thing that usually when somebody is like, stressed about the fact that they overate, it’s usually because the next day, they weigh themselves and they’re up four to five-pound and in their mind, they’re thinking, “holy crap, I just undid weeks and weeks of being there,” which kind of goes back to why I really – once I can get somebody to like, get rid of that mindset for a second and just like, get back on track and they see that their water will drop like their water weight drops like four to five pounds after being on track for like a week, it’s like that clicking moment in their head.
But, you know, obviously, it’s very emotional in that moment because you’ve been on point, and you’ve been perfect, and then that happens and it’s stressful because you’re like, “well, crap, why the heck did I do that?” And then you turn to the guilt and then you start that cycle over and over again if you’re not going into it with the right knowledge and mindset, for sure.
Mike : [00:23:13] Yeah, absolutely. I agree.
Mike : [00:24:47] So let’s get into some strategies and some tips for preventing excessive overeating, bingeing, whatever you want to call it, because ideally when we are cutting, at least, we wouldn’t really overeat at all, really, I mean that’s the perfect ideal to strive for. Maybe we never get there, and that’s fine, I think that perfectionism in that sense is okay if you realize that you’re never gonna get there. And that’s a different discussion, but it’s just a viewpoint I have in my work, for example.
There’s a perfect ideal that I strive for in terms of my writing ability. I don’t think I’ll ever get there in my lifetime but the fact that I know that makes it okay. And I’m still striving toward – I think it’s even a Buddhist concept actually, anyways, that I’m striving toward something that I know I will never achieve, but I’m okay with that and I still feel motivated to try to get as close to it as possible. So if we kind of takes the perfect ideal of a cut is: never overeat once.
And that’s not a pass-fail test, that’s just going, “okay, that would be perfection, how do we get as close to that as possible outside of planned diet breaks or ‘cheat meals’?” You know, what I mean, like you’re going to have that. Sure, any diet regimen that is going to work halfway decently for the average person needs to have some of that worked in. But assuming outside of whatever it is that you’ve planned.
Carter: [00:26:23] Yes, exactly right and I think that the degree to which you are dieting makes sense, too, because a lot of the people I work with who tend to be more general population like, people who aren’t trying to – you know, a lot of times I work with somebody who is very new to even weightlifting or even understanding calories, macronutrients, and stuff like that.
Like someone in that situation who has a lot of fat to lose the necessity, necessarily of like, having constant refeeds may not be as high in terms of like, practically getting results. Because usually in that situation, the refeed or whatever it is, is more based around their lifestyle. It’s actually why when I’m like, working with somebody I would never say, “let’s have a cheap meal.”
I don’t even like to use the word “refeed meal” really for them. Mostly just from a mental standpoint. I like to just call it like, lifestyle meals. Because every once in a while you’re going to be going out to eat and you’re going to want to just have a meal with your family or your friends and not have to worry about it as much.
And I like for people to more so use them in those situations, because most people who are just like living normal lives, you know, every day, I mean, even you and I are going to have – most the time we’re going to have like one to two meals when we’re going out during the week or one to two meals where we do go out and eat a meal and so saving it for that as opposed to like having a set day, “every Sunday, I have my cheat meal.”
It works well for some people, for some people, I think it can like, stress them out so much that they just don’t have any type of control or anything for it and so the first thing that I always do with people is: know that when they are doing this, it’s not necessarily, they don’t have to do it in most situations, but if you do have these moments when you are going out to eat, know that you can use this as a way to relieve stress or to not have to worry as much about being perfect in that moment.
If it’s, you know, I’ve kind of set parameters around that, like once every, you know, like 7 to 14 days, you can have a meal or a day where you go over your calories by a certain amount, right, whatever the situation is. Just like that framing, I think, is really the first step to, I think, really having a healthier relationship with moments when you do kind of go off your diet plan.
Mike : [00:28:18] I agree, I agree. And so what about – let’s talk about some of the things that you can do, though, to prevent it from – like, for example, something that I know helps people is, let’s say they’re going to be dieting for some period of time, not having the foods, whatever their “trigger” foods are, the foods that, like a guy that works with me, he loves chips and when he’s cutting, he just doesn’t have chips in his house or in his condo because he just knows himself.
He knows that if they’re around, he’s probably going to eat them and he’s probably not just going to have a chip or two here and there it’s probably going to turn into the whole bag, even if it’s over the course of an entire day, and sure, he knows that he can adjust to make up for that but that means that his diet just gets whacked.
Because chips, it may be like 1,000 calories in chips and maybe he’s cutting on 2,000, 2,100 calories, that’s pretty shitty, especially if you ate that in an hour and now you have the rest of the day where you’re just like, eat your calories out for the rest of the day so you don’t starve. That’s something I know that can help people or waiting if they feel the urge to eat, drinking some water and waiting ten minutes or so, little things like that. Are there any specific tips that you found that help like that?
Carter: [00:29:36] Yeah, so kind of going into that one about like the “out of sight, out of mind” type of thing with foods. You know, especially, you know, while you’re trying to diet just because, you know, hunger levels are to be a bit naturally a little bit higher and the temptations, obviously are going to keep increasing, increasing over time.
But with that even, I notice that some people do really well with the, you know, “out of sight, out of the mind” thing, like leaving those foods out, but I also think it can be very helpful if you are following an approach where you’re tracking your nutrition and you are taking a bit more of a flexible approach, obviously, I’m not like eliminating specific foods.
So I guess this is a tip in it of itself is to not eliminate food groups, which we can get into, but just for that example, like having food that will satisfy a craving but isn’t as I guess, enjoyable, I guess, in a sense, as the as the food you struggle with. So, for example, for me, like I struggle when Oreos are in the house. Even to this day. Not that I just like, eat the whole box all the time, but like, if Oreos are in my living area, I’m going to eat them, right?
It’s just a matter of time. But for me, I also enjoy, like, dark chocolate, but not enough to wear like I don’t sit down and feel the need to, like, eat two big dark chocolate bars in a row. Like it’s normally that point it’s just like, not necessarily something I want, whereas I could sit down and eat like one the two sleeves of Oreos if I was just like, really, you know, feeling it or whatever.
But the dark chocolate, though, still kind of gives me that sweet satisfaction that sometimes I’m looking for in the evening or whatever. So like with chips even, you know I’ve had people who will maybe have an issue with like Doritos or something, and then we’ll switch to – and it’s funny even, you know, it might be something like some people might say, like kale chips or whatever, but I’ve even noticed, like even making a switch to a different brand that might be like lighter like, Popchips even, even though it’s like still a chip or whatever.
Like it just doesn’t have the same type of, like, reward response and, you know, it might take some experimenting or whatever, but just finding something that’s comparable, like in terms of still satisfying your craving, but you don’t like lose control around it, like for whatever reason.
I’ve noticed that that’s worked really well because then you don’t feel that over restriction, which can sometimes be enough motivation to be like, “well, you know, shit, the Oreos aren’t in the house, well I’m going to go drive and I’m going to find them because I’ve wanted Oreos for the past four weeks and I haven’t had anything to satisfy that craving, so now I’m going to do it,” right? As opposed to if you did have something that kind of was still allowing you to enjoy those sweets at night, I guess.
Mike : [00:31:53] Yeah, yeah. My buddy, the same guy, that’s what he does Popchips. So I guess chips and ice cream, he likes them, I think together, which sounds kind of gross to me, but so he’ll do Popchips and a light ice cream is like his treat, you know, like a Halo Top, Enlightened or something like that and so it gives him a semblance of the experience.
But not it’s not delicious enough, the foods are not engineered enough to really drive him over the top, whereas I mean, take Doritos, who knows how many – it’s at least tens of millions of dollars and possibly more has gone into over the years perfecting the Dorito. And I had a guy I interviewed on my podcast, named Michael Moss, interviewed him, I don’t know, maybe a year ago, he wrote a book called “Sugar, Salt, Fat” I believe it’s all about …
Carter: [00:32:41] I think I listened to this podcast, that’s where I first heard about that whole thing with, like Doritos and like …
Mike : [00:32:46] The bliss point, right? And how much work these big food companies do – and they have so many millions of dollars to spend on just R&D. And so what is that R&D? It’s how to make foods more palatable, they call it this – they want to reach the perfect bliss point, which is where you get the maximum reward, and this is really we’re talking about as is a neurochemical response to the food you eat to make you want to continue eating.
Which on the face of it sounds pretty shitty actually as a thing, pretty unethical, but I guess that’s a different discussion. With something like Popchips, though, they just don’t have, for example, the fat. That’s one of the critical components, if you reduce the fat, you’re going to reduce the palatability. So it doesn’t matter how many millions of dollars they may or may not spend, they will never reach – a Pop Chip will never reach, unless they find some crazy chemicals, or who knows, some voodoo, but with where food science is right now, they just wouldn’t be able to reach the deliciousness of a Dorito.
Carter: [00:33:50] No, for sure. And this is actually, I think, also another big one, because like I think earlier I talked about how knowing, understanding, like how one meal isn’t going to necessarily be catastrophic to your results. I think being aware of the fact that – sometimes people feel like they’re slaves to their cravings and feel like they’re bad because they have cravings.
Actually just had someone send me an email saying, “how do I stop craving foods?” And my response was like, “it’s not un-normal to not crave foods like everybody craves certain foods. And as soon as you kind of think about it logically or scientifically like, you know, ‘biologically, why do I crave these foods?’ Because they’re high in carbs and fats and they’re palatable and they’re salty and have all that.
Even just the awareness of knowing that it’s very normal to have cravings around certain types of foods kind of puts power back into your hands. You don’t feel out of control because, ‘Oh, this is just a normal response,’ just like when you have to go to the bathroom, can’t just say, “nope, I’m going to go.” Like eventually you have to go, right?
It’s just one of these things that, if you acknowledge it and say, ‘okay, this is just normal a normal biological response. But I also have my frontal cortex and I can think ahead of this, I don’t have to live in this moment and succumb to the desire to eat right now, I can push it forward knowing that my long term goals are more important to me.’ I think that can be a huge one, too.” It really does give you the control when you realize that there’s nothing wrong with the craving and it’s normal but you still are responsible for not letting it lead to excessive overeating all the time.
Mike : [00:35:15] Totally, getting to the end is more important than how you get there, in many ways. Especially if we’re just talking about losing weight, so long as you observe a few rules like, you know, don’t go crazy with your calorie restriction, don’t eat way too little protein, and don’t do unconscionable amounts of cardio, and ideally, do something for your muscles, wherever it is. If you just, kind of loosely follow those guidelines, the rest is negotiable and doesn’t really matter so long as you get to where you want to be in the end.
Carter: [00:35:50] Yeah, exactly. It takes discipline and some restriction to achieve fitness goals but like, you know, it’s gonna take time regardless and the more intense you’re going to be or the more strict you’re gonna be, the more you’re gonna kind of struggle with those things. So I think that you and I both agree, like a more balanced approach or a more moderate approach is always going to be the better approach when you’re looking at long term results and sustainability.
Mike : [00:36:14] Absolutely. So let’s say it has happened, though, a binge, a period of excessive eating, whether it’s one day, two days, maybe it’s even a few days, how do you help people work through the fallout? Some people, they don’t have it and they just shrug it off and they go, “big deal, whatever.” But that, I think, in my experience, that comes usually with more veteran fitness people, you know.
People who have gotten very lean before and they’ve also gained a fair amount of weight before and they’ve done it multiple times and they know the process and it’s just not a big deal. Those people are not concerned, but a lot of people who, like I said earlier, maybe they’ve struggled with losing weight for a while or this is really their first go at it, what kind of advice do you have for when they do overeat?
It’s an unplanned bout of overeating and I think the first place to start I’ll just throw it out there is: it’s okay, it’s going to happen. It’s fine, it’s going to happen. The only reason why I think there even should be a cause for concern is if it is happening very often. So I’ll start there. What are your thoughts?
Carter: [00:37:24] Yeah, that’s the first thing and it’s easy to say that. And honestly, sometimes people just need to hear that it’s okay even though they know it is, right? They just need it reaffirmed by somebody else. So that’s always a first thing is reminding them, “Hey, it’s one time, it’s not that big of a deal.” And if it really is just one time, you know, it isn’t a big deal.
Practically, what I like to do or why I’ve seen work really well is, the first thing is: if it’s somebody who’s, you know, still sort of in that emotional attachment to eating, and dieting, and getting through that, you know, not weighing in for a few days. I think that helps. Even though I will tell them, like, “listen, you know, the weight doesn’t matter,” sometimes just not worrying about that part for a few days can really be helpful with just focusing on getting back on track and kind of keeping yourself in like a more positive mindset.
Another thing that I really like for people to do is after having a meal or whatever, where they go over, is trying to, like, do the best they can to plan out their eating for the next few days. And I like, for people do this thing where they do daily meal planning, so like the night before, they’ll plan their next day meals. And then at the end of that night, they’ll plan their next meal.
So it’s this thing where they’re not like saying, “on Thursday, I have to eat this, this, this and this,” and it’s like Monday, right, and stuff might happen between Monday and Thursday. But just going into each day with like, a solid plan of what you’re gonna do can really help, with just getting back on track.
And then by that point, if they can get through like, three to four or five days of just like being back on point, whenever they start weighing again, they see that their weights normalized, kind of going back to what I said right at the beginning of the podcast where they’re like, “oh, wow, okay, I really didn’t do as much, you know, ‘damage’ as I thought I was going to do.”
Mike : [00:38:57] Yeah, absolutely, that makes sense. Anything else that you’ve used with clients to help them get over maybe some of the guilt? Sometimes people get pretty hard on themselves. Like: it’s because they’re weak and, you know, they always fail and just that kind of stuff.
Carter: [00:39:13] Yeah. I always try to push it back on, like – in that situation, and obviously, you know, one of the reasons I like working people one on one is because you can actually talk to them about things in terms of like, if they have like, a specific issue, like talking them through that. Because, you know, like we talked about a lot of overeating is psychological in a sense.
So figuring out, “why did you overeat, like, why has this become a problem?” And even just like vocalizing those things or writing them out in an email or whatever can make it a lot easier to look at it objectively to start to fix that problem, right? Because the food isn’t the problem, it’s how you’re using the food in response to something happening usually, which is the problem.
So almost getting to the deeper cause of that, which is obviously not just an easy task for everyone, because sometimes it requires facing bigger demons but, you know, I think the more honest you can learn to be with yourself of why you’re overeating, the easier it is to not use food in that way in the future.
So something I might do with a client is, you know after a night of doing that and we’re back on track, maybe even talking about, “okay, like what was the plan that day? Like, what do you feel happened that led to the overeating?” And whatever it is, whether it’s like, “I got an argument, I got stress,” I’m like, “okay, well, in the future, what are some things that maybe we can do in that situation besides eating, right?
Or things that when that happens to help prevent yourself from turning to food in that moment. And that something might be like waiting 15 to 20 minutes, right? Or getting out of the house and doing something, right?” Like small things and what works for one person isn’t going to work for somebody else, which is why it’s important to kind of experiment with yourself on those things.
But I think that going into it, recognizing that there’s a reason why you overate in the first place and addressing that rather than, you know, always thinking about like, how can I prevent myself from overeating, thinking about why are you overeating in the first place so that it doesn’t even become really an issue anymore or an option that is always happening?
Mike : [00:41:00] Yeah, that’s a good point and the stress point, in particular, is probably the most common one, right, it’s probably the most common trigger for overeating. Any particular things that come to mind that you’ve found have been generally workable for people? There’s other outlets because obviously emotional eating is a very common outlet for just releasing stress, just feeling better.
Carter: [00:41:24] Yeah, I think that I mean, honestly, like I’ve noticed that people do really well with – and I think it also sometimes can be like men and women tend to sort of respond differently. Like I’ve noticed a lot of my women clients, they do really well when they’re in those situations, they are reaching out to someone like, calling a friend, or just talking with like the people in their house, right, like just being in a social situation.
I notice that a lot of the guys I work with whenever they’re like, stressed out like that, do really well whenever they do something physical in response to like, let out aggression. Whether it’s, you know, normally I’m not like a big cardio guy, like, you have to go out and do cardio all the time, but I do notice that some people, they just do have less stress when they go out and they do some form of cardio.
I think it’s something to do with like, you know, obviously there’s like a physical thing that might be happening, but more so, just like being able to focus that, like aggression or whatever on something else can be really useful, but I think it really just comes down to finding an activity that can distract you, that is something positive.
So, you know, it might be hanging out with friends, it might be doing some type of activity, or might be like reading, or even playing a video game, or like watching a movie or something. I think that anything that will get you out of that moment of feeling you have to relieve it, like really stress it in another way, in that sense, is what tends to work, I think.
Mike : [00:42:43] Yeah, I can second that. I’ve thought about it myself because I’m not an emotional eater, I’m just not that kind of person. When I’m cutting for long periods, maybe I overeat a little bit here and there, but it’s just not exactly been an area of struggle for me. So I’m trying to think that, with stress in my life, how do I cope with it?
I don’t have the obvious coping kind of type of mechanisms that, you know, whether it be overeating or drug use, is probably another common coping mechanism, and that would include alcohol. I think I just kind of turn into a dickhead, that’s for sure [laughing]. I don’t know, is that my outlet? I just kind of turned into a dick.
Carter: [00:43:29] [Laughing] I mean, hey, if it works for you, I don’t know. It depends, I guess, on what your goal is at the moment.
Mike : [00:43:35] I guess there’s probably nothing I can ever do about that, right? That’ll probably be the appropriate emotional response if you’re a bunch of annoying shit that is raising stress levels. But who knows, maybe it would benefit me to have some sort of reliable outlet. I mean, for me, I like to read, I guess there are a few activities that I can go to that I just enjoy and that calm me down, so maybe that’s it.
But I think there’s also – this is kind of another conversation, though, and I’ve written about this and probably spoken about it a bit as well – in that, I think well, I mean, there’s research that backs this up and I’ve experienced it myself, that stress, there’s a lot to be said that there is a subjective element to it. A lot of it is what you make of it.
And so if – and this has been shown, I think it was research that came out of Stanford, I believe, where you had students that believed, I think they had exams coming up and students who believed that it was stressful were much more stressed about it and who perceived it as stress, the exams as a negative, stressful event, they did worse on their exams and they did worse in preparation.
Whereas students who saw it more positively, it’s a challenge and they’re working on it, they’ll be okay, felt a lot less stressed about it. And so I think there’s something to be – I don’t know, and this is something maybe I’ve always just been good at, if that’s the case, then I don’t really know why.
But I am definitely the person to – I rarely ever have the thought it would be hard for me to find the last time when I sat down and even said to myself, like, “oh, I’m so stressed,” or, “I have so much stress,” I don’t really look at challenges in my life that way, even if they’re annoying bullshit “challenges”, stupid obstacles, stupid shit I have to deal with that is maybe really just would feel like a waste of time.
I am always trying to reframe it positively in that maybe there’s a lesson I can learn out of this, or maybe if I reflect on this I can see what led me here, and maybe I can avoid situations like this in the future. And then there’s also something to be said for, you know, who knows? Maybe the situation that I’m going through right now is going to work out very positively in a way that if I wouldn’t be in this position now, I wouldn’t even get to that next, you know, higher plateau.
Carter: [00:46:15] No, for sure. I always say, like, you know, “there’s not wins and losses, there’s like, wins and lessons.” And if you approach those situations where like, yeah, negatives like overeating, they can suck in the moment, but you can look at those – kind of why I think it’s so important to really analyze why you did it in the first place, because if you can learn whether the things that happen in your life that lead to this, you can, you know, be better able to equip yourself with different tools or strategies to combat it, right?
And be ready for it to happen, especially if it’s something that’s reoccurring. And I actually forgot to mention this earlier, not to go like too far off track, but like whenever I was talking about, like planning your meals in response to, like, overeating, like a lot of times people, I think, when they’re dealing with stress, a lot of times it’s recurring stress or they’re having those urges in similar times each day. Usually it’s like after work or whatever it is.
And I think that if you are aware of that, like if you can be honest and say, “okay, I know that at this time of the day is when I tend to struggle the most, ” and, you know, maybe a good idea would be to plan for that moment by if you know that you start craving chocolate at 9:00 p.m. every single night, you know, after work, and then like, the kids are screaming or whatever.
And that’s when you tend struggle most, like planning in, “okay, I’m going to let myself have this amount of chocolate or whatever, and it fits into my day, and like, I’ve structured it all right,” I think that can be a huge win because you kind of get the chocolate, you get that release, but then you also kind of get to stay on track with it, too.
But no, I totally agree though, it’s similar, like, you know, stress is very subjective, I think and I think it just depends on the person. But usually, I think, you know, people are just responding to something that’s happening a lot in their life and being able to be responsible, I guess, with how you cope with it is going to be a big win.
Mike : [00:48:01] Yeah, I totally agree. I think that’s a good tip, too, just reflecting on what – because most of us, our days are mostly the same, probably at least from a, you know, in terms of the types of things we’re gonna be doing at certain times and looking at how does that impact – how do your days impact you? I guess we’re really talking emotionally and if there are emotional low points that in some cases maybe you can’t avoid.
And that is the reality sometimes, you know, we’ve all been there where we go, “yeah, I’d rather not have to experience that at 3:00 p.m., but I got to go to that meeting with this dickhead, you know, boss, and that’s just the way it is and he’s gonna be passive-aggressive and he’s blah, blah, blah, or whatever.” But you can think ahead on that and instead of turning to the food, you can figure out something else.
And you know, something else I’ll just throw out there is: I also with, when it comes to “stressful situations”, if nothing else, I look at them as opportunities to get stronger as a person. And you know, I think the, you say the, our emotional strength or our spiritual strength, however you want to look at it, in many ways trumps our physical strength and, you know, that’s David Goggins’ whole thing, right?
That when you think physically that you can’t go on, you can’t go any further, you’re like 40 percent of what you could do if you had the will. And the hardships, the obstacles, the problems that we have to deal with in life are opportunities to strengthen our will and that matters. I know that it’s becoming more and more trendy to be weak, really, as a person, and that manifests in many ways.
And not only is it becoming more popular to just be weak, to be a victim and then it’s becoming more and more unpopular and it’s becoming I’d say – actually it’s more to the point of demonization, where the idea, just the concept of being strong as an individual, strong-willed, you could say strong of mind, even strong of body is being attacked and that’s more of a cultural thing.
But I think that is actually pathological. I mean, I think that goes down to, even the root of – if you go too far in that direction, one day we will just be extinct. You go too far, you know, whether you like it or not, civilization was built by strong people. You know, people say America is a nation of immigrants. No, it’s not. America is a nation of settlers.
It’s a nation of pioneers, of people who left what was comfortable and left civilization, for all intents and purposes and came to a very inhospitable place where the risk of dying in many different ways was very high. And the guarantee – there were no guarantees in terms of survival in any sense.
You might just starve to death, you might get mauled by a bear, you might – there’s so many things that could go wrong and, you know, so the people that created, really the West, this even goes earlier than America, were strong people. They were tough people, period. And if we think that now technology has allowed us to transcend the need for resilience, I think that’s very naive. I know I’m kind of ranting now, but …
Carter: [00:51:49] No, no, but it makes sense, right, because it kind of goes back to understanding like you’re a biological creature and like life can be har, right? And it’s not just like the sunshine and rainbows all the way through. And, you know, even in a complex topic like you’re talking about, right, of survival, of life and death, but then even in a more minute topic of like, hunger and self-control, like now those things they all are important to understand. And it does come down to like taking ownership and knowing what you want and being willing to fight through the good and the bad of achieving what that is.
Mike : [00:52:22] Right. And, you know, I think that life is probably meant to be hard. That’s probably like, just hard-wired, it’s coded into the operating system and complaining about it doesn’t do anything. And I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying that life is suffering, but we are all going to suffer and so we better just be ready for that.
And personally, I think, this is something Steven Pressfield said that has always kind of stuck with me, I think it’s in one of his books, I don’t know if it was in The War of Art, but the number one attribute that he ascribes his success to is just his ability to suffer. His ability to just sit down every day and keep going, no matter how bad he feels about his work or no matter how much stress he has or how many other things he has in mind, just suffer. Just sit down and do it. And there’s a lot to be said for that.
Carter: [00:53:18] No, no, I totally agree with that.
Mike : [00:53:20] And even in the case of dieting, for some people, it’s easy, for some people it’s not. And so that means that the suffering is maybe low for the people that have no problems and it just is smooth and the suffering is higher for the people who have issues, but if the people who have those issues can just suffer through it, you know, when push comes to shove in other ways in life, I would put my money on those people.
People who have – let’s just take dieting, right? So they’ve never experienced any – maybe I would do one of those people who – I can’t say I ever really suffered that much when it comes to food and eating, but what if I was in a situation all of a sudden where it was hard for whatever reason. And I’ve never experienced that before, I mean, I might find that it is a lot harder than I could even deal with.
Whereas somebody who has gone through it, they’ve made it through, they have confidence in themselves, they are again, I’d put my money on a person like that to even in other areas of life, because I think that to do anything it’s going to require a lot of effort, things are gonna go wrong and you are going to be disappointed, there are going to be letdowns.
And you gotta keep going despite the pain, so, you know, yeah, dieting, if it’s very painful for anybody listening, who knows, maybe by just going through it, you very well probably strengthen yourself in a more global way than just losing some weight, that is going to benefit you in other areas of your life.
Carter: [00:54:58] No, that’s funny that you bring that up right there at the end, because it’s something that I usually bring up later on when I’m working with somebody, but one of the reasons why I love fitness, in general, is because especially in today’s world, it’s one of the last things that we have that is like this physically stressful thing that we can create, right?
I mean, the fact that we have to create stress by walking into a gym and doing that and, you know, controlling our nutrition or whatever it is like, it’s, you know, there’s not a lot of that anymore because of all the convenience that we have. And what you said right there at the end, I think that if you take control of your health and fitness because the thing is, is a lot of stuff in life is sometimes stuff that happens outside your control and how you respond matters.
But the one thing like, you always have control over, the food choices that you’re making and your decision to exercise in whatever capacity. And I truly believe that when you decide to make it your goal to maximize that or to make that a priority in your life and you do succeed in doing that, it absolutely translates to everything else in life.
And I can even say that about myself, like how I lost a ton of weight and through doing, I that’s, I think, why I was able to, whether it’s starting my own business or doing other things, I credit it back to the fact that you know, when you see the results of what hard work can really do, and disciplined hard work, and staying consistent like you almost get addicted to that and you want to do that in other areas of your life because you want what’s best at the end, so …
Mike : [00:56:20] Absolutely, I think that’s a great note to end on. So to wrap up, let’s just let everybody know where they can find you, find your work, and if you want to talk about your coaching service or any products and services that you want people to know about, now’s your chance.
Carter: [00:56:38] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So it’s super simple. It’s just Carter Good everywhere, so Instagram is kind of my bigger one, so instagram.com/cartergood or on the app, obviously just search my name. My website’s cartergood.com and if people are interested, I actually do have a free like, 14 days like an email fat loss course.
If you go to fatlossforevercourse.com, it’s just like, a free daily email course I created. Sort of just goes over all the big topics about fat loss dieting and exercise and everything like that. But in terms of social media definitely Instagram and my website will kind of point you to all the rest of them, so…
Mike : [00:57:12] Perfect. Thanks, Carter, appreciate you taking the time, this was great.
Carter: [00:57:16] Absolutely, thanks for having me on.
Mentioned on the Show:
How Much Fat Can You Gain in a Single Day of Bingeing? What 20 Studies Say
How to Stop Binge Eating (Even If You Love Food)
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us