I usually encourage everyone to use their FREE MEAL strategy on the weekends because this is an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones over a meal without worrying about diet, calories, macros, and eating off of plan. Food is so much more than nutritional sustenance and we’ve all spent the majority of our existence eating in a relaxed atmosphere with the most important people in our lives.
One (or two) meal(s) off of plan will not disrupt your fat loss goals if the rest of your week has been spot on with your program. The FREE MEAL strategy is the perfect time for you to exercise portion control to develop better long-term dietary habits along with rewarding yourself for being compliant during the week.
Unfortunately I’m seeing too many dietary missteps with multiple bites of food outside of plan (Halloween is a huge culprit), a meal replaced with something completely different, and totally non-compliant meals as a whole. If any of this is happening, the FREE MEAL strategy should NOT be used. The food consumed off plan (including those little bites) will add up in a huge way during the week and will completely throw off your fat loss progress. Adding a FREE MEAL on top of that can, possibly, put you into calorie surplus which will result in fat gain.
This is especially important to those that have leaned out considerable or are in the last stages of their program and so close to their goal. Unfortunately the leaner you are, the margin of error in your diet also gets very small.
I understand the importance of spending, at least, one meal off of plan with family or for your own sanity but the FREE MEAL is only to be used if the rest of the week has been totally compliant. The deviations only slow down the end result.
The secret to fat loss is to control your intake of food. If you don’t, your food controls you.