No, you do not have to eat all the way up to your maintenance level on scheduled 'eat up' days. You don’t even have to use your 'eat up' days when they are scheduled if you don’t feel like you need one. This is especially true if you still have a lot of fat to lose because of the “Theory of Fat Availability” which we will describe below.
What are 'eat up' days and why are they important?
'Eat up' days are meant to be days when you match your daily calorie burn with your calorie intake. This is called eating at maintenance - maintaining body weight. You will not be spending more than 6 days in a deficit until you get to 'eat up'. We’ve tried all different lengths of deficit vs. eat up days, and it seems that about 6 days is the longest most people can go in a deficit until they simply want to eat more.
Until recently we didn’t really know why this would happen but it appears to be because leptin levels are falling far enough that you start to really want to eat more. We purposely tell you to eat up at the 6th day so you don’t push your leptin levels even farther down which could lead to a crash and binge.
This relative sweet spot around the 6th day seems to work for most Venus’s and it allows enough days of deficit eating to burn off a significant amount of body fat without pushing you too far and causing any metabolic disruption that could slow the fat burning process and leave you ravenously hungry and craving carbs.
The “Theory of Fat Availability”
However, the amount of energy your fat can provide when you are dieting is dependent on how much body fat you have. The more body fat you have, the larger the calorie deficit you are able to ‘fill’ with the energy stored in your fat. We call this the “Theory of Fat Availability”.
When you diet, you create an energy deficit – essentially a gap between the amount of energy you take in, and the amount of energy you’re expending on a daily basis. In an ideal world, this gap is filled exclusively by the energy that is stored in your body fat. However, as you lose body fat, the amount of fat that can be released also decreases.
This means that the more body fat you have, the lower you can go with your calories and longer you can go eating low calories without experiencing any ill effects. But towards the end of a diet, when body fat levels get lower and lower, the calorie deficit needs to be shorter and smaller. When you are carrying large amounts of excess body fat, you can eat less for longer because your body has plenty of fat to burn as a fuel to ‘fill in’ your calorie deficit.
YOU get to be in CONTROL
This “Theory of Fat Availability” is why we tell people at the beginning of a transformation that it is not absolutely critical to eat all the way up to maintenance on days when you are not hungry. The more fat you have to lose, the longer you can go without a break, so you should begin to learn NOW how to LISTEN to your body.
We built the 'eat up' days into the program from the very beginning to get you used to the idea of eating up to maintenance (so you will become a successful MAINTAINER later) and to give you the built in breaks when YOU need them.
It is important to learn to LISTEN to your body. She will tell you when she needs a break so you don’t need to force yourself to 'eat up' if you don’t feel you need to on any given day. But understand that it is absolutely OKAY to take a break and that it is actually GOOD for your fat burning processes to take some breaks.
The 'eat up' days are designed into the program in a strategic way to maximize your fat loss, but it is still okay to be flexible. You can skip them on days you’re not hungry or you can move them around to accommodate special events in your life where you know you are going to want to eat more.
While it’s okay to skip your 'eat up' days at the beginning, don’t be surprised if as you get leaner, you find you are hungrier and you will want or NEED to take ALL of your 'eat up' days. Enjoy your ability to go harder and longer NOW while you can… someday, you will be missing that ability to deficit eat with greater ease! :)
The beauty of the Venus lifestyle is that YOU get to be in control. You are given the FREEDOM to learn how to live and manage your food choices in a healthy and balanced way for the rest of your life.