Doesn’t everyone binge the night before starting a new diet?

Are You A Victim Of Last Supper Syndrome?

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

5 min read

‘Twas the night before Monday, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a-

– what, what?!

Oh, it’s Megan, she’s still up, and she’s trying to scoff the contents of the secret kitchen chocolate drawer before her new diet starts tomorrow.

Fuck it. We’ve all been there. Today we’re going to talk about the phenomenon known as last supper syndrome.

Table of Contents

What Is Last Supper Syndrome, And Why Do We Do It?

last supper syndrome

You might feel guilty as fuck when you do this, but it’s actually much more common than you think.

Last supper syndrome strikes us when we make sudden plans to overhaul our diet.

The body responds to your bullshit promises of “That’s it, no more junk food from Monday!” by making you want to slather yourself in chocolate and see if you can eat your own weight.

It does this out of sheer frustration that the thing you enjoy (in this case; chocolate) is about to be exiled from your life, so the whole “one last night of freedom” kicks in. (1, 2)

You may feel like you’re the only person who do this, but in my 22 years working as a personal trainer I met hundreds of people who told the exact same story. This is a perfectly normal response to the prospect of cutting something out. For instance, if I said you must give up sex for the next 12-months, what would you do tonight?

what is last supper syndrome

Now we’ve established what Last Supper Syndrome is, let’s go deeper into the topic.

For a small percentage of people, they have “one last blow-out” and then their diet begins and they actually manage to stick to it and get great results.

For most people, though, it’s the first step in an unsuccessful cycle of starting-and-stopping-and-restarting their diet, in a never-ending loop which has them gaining and losing the same 5lbs over and over again.

Because even though its called last supper syndrome, for many people this is a weekly occurrence. They’ll have one last night of freedom on Sunday, start a new diet on Monday, hit the skids on Thursday and push the “fuck it button”, and then plan to start a new diet the following week, which of course means another last night of freedom on Sunday… and so on.

Research shows us that almost 50% of people who are treated for binge eating disorders will start this way, so if it’s continually happening to you, it’s time to change your way of thinking. (3)

If you are repeatedly falling victim to last supper syndrome, it tells me one thing:

You are attempting stupid fucking diets.

Outdated nutrition advice has most people thinking that the only way they can lose weight is to live on rabbit food, and this is bullshit. Luckily you found my website, and I don’t do outdated science!

The prospect of losing all of your favourite food is what’s ruining your chances of achieving your goal, and it doesn’t need to be this way. Research clearly shows us that provided you control the total number of calories you eat per day, you will be able to lose weight, regardless of the individual foods you eat.

This is called flexible dieting, and it’s a nutrition model which has helped tons of my male and female clients break the cycle of restrictive dieting over the years. By focusing on controlling the overall number of calories you eat, this means that you do not need to ban your favourite foods. Over time this helps erase our urge to binge, and creates a healthier relationship with food.

Yes, in an ideal world I’d like you to control your calorie intake while also ensuring that you eat plenty of protein (to build muscle) and fiber (for a healthy gut), but in the beginning you should just try to nail the total calories, and then get more technical when you are ready.

Research shows that trainees who diet this way tend to have a greater feeling of control around food, as well as reducing anxiety, depression, mood swings, disordered eating patterns, the desire to over-eat, and negative body image concerns. (4, 5, 6, 7)

The vast majority of my PT clients who tried this approach said it changed their whole lifestyle for the better.

They’d start their diet with their usual “one last night of freedom”, but then they’d follow the flexible dieting model from that point on. It sometimes takes a couple of attempts (it’s okay if you slip up, you’re human!), but eventually it just clicks, and you’ll never, ever go back to being trapped in this annoying cycle of last supper syndrome.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article.

  1. Ogden J., et al. Cognitive changes to preloading in restrained and unrestrained eaters as measured by the Stroop task. Int J Eat Disord (1993).
  2. Bryan C. J., et al. Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating. PNAS (2016).
  3. Binge eating disorder. NEDA (2019).
  4. Berry D. An emerging model of behavior change in women maintaining weight loss. Nurs Sci Q (2004).
  5. Spreckley M., et al. Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being (2021).
  6. Smith C. F., et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite (1999).
  7. Stewart T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite (2002).

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

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