The question “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight” is asked by new dieters who don’t want to give up their favorite morning treat and who can blame them?
Truth be told, I found myself asking the same questions since I didn’t have any desire to give up those glazed rings of goodness even though I desperately wanted to lose weight. But believe it or not, this happened: I decided to eat donuts every day and figured out a way to lose weight while doing it!
What does this mean for all of you having a tough time kicking that donut craving? Well, if you want the same unexpected results that I got, simply follow the tips and tricks I learned while on my cream-filled weight loss journey.
I Ate Donuts Everyday & Still Lost Weight – I’ll Show You How Too
I know I’m not the only person who loves sweet treats, in fact, the average person in the U.S. eats about 57 pounds of sugar per day.1 In the past, I’ve tried countless ways to cut out all of the added confections, but could never find a way to stick to it for more than a week or two.
Working in an office presented a daily buffet of filled-to-the-brim donut boxes that were impossible to resist. Then, on the weekends, or if I happened to be working from home, swinging by the coffee shop to grab a pastry or two became a routine.
It started to become evident that banning these delicacies from my life was clearly not working, so I knew it was time to figure out how to keep them around in a healthier way. To my delight, I successfully came up with a foolproof plan that has let me “have my cake(donut) and eat it, too”, and I’ll guide you through all the steps.
How To Eat Donuts and Not Get Fat? Learn How I Ate Donuts Everyday & Didn’t Get Fat
Figuring out how to eat donuts and lose weight took some adjusting, but I was tired of being fat and willing to go all in to work out a plan.
I decided to start by looking at some adjustments I could make without giving up the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. This included the timing of when I indulged, finding ways to counteract the fat and sugar, generally trying to steer clear of the pastries with the highest calorie counts, and, most importantly, maintaining a calorie deficit (also known as, burning more calories than are consumed).
While each of these methods is great on its own, when combined, they really allowed me to reach my goal of treating myself to a chocolate-covered goody while simultaneously slimming down.
Time Your Donuts Before or After a Workout
Timing foods before or after a workout is a smart way to get the highest nutritional benefits from the calories consumed.2 There are, however, certain things to consider before eating a box of donuts before cardio class.
Fueling up to work out is important and your body needs help getting the energy it needs through the proper combinations of foods. These meals or food suggestions, along with timing, can give you an idea of what combos of food make good pre-workout snacks.
- 3 to 4 hours before a workout: – A full meal with a good mix of fat, protein, and carbohydrates
- 2 hours before a workout: A higher carb snack with some fat and protein
- Immediately before working out: A smaller, carb-heavy snack with lower fat such as a single donut
Your body stores the glucose from carbohydrates as glycogen and for shorter and more intense workouts uses those glycogen stores as fuel.3 Days that included a 2 or 3-mile run or a 45-minute cardio class at the gym were the perfect opportunity to fit in a couple of glazed donut holes (my favorite) to get that glycogen boost.
For workouts that were longer and included more strength training, I saved my donut indulgence until post-workout. To aid in a speedy recovery, glycogen stores should be replenished as quickly after a workout as possible.
The optimal way to go about this is with a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Because a higher carb food is advantageous directly after a workout, my favorite after-exercise treat was a protein shake and a maple cream donut.
Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Try Walking More
I tried to fit in exercise at least 3 days per week, but if it didn’t fit into my busy schedule and I still caved to my donut craving, I tried to find a way to increase my NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, by making it a point to walk more.
NEAT is the amount of calories burned from daily activities that don’t include exercise or BMR (basal metabolic rate), which is the number of calories used by your body for basic functions such as breathing, digesting food, and blood circulation.
Walking is a great way to burn off some excess calories and most people can find a way to fit it into their daily life. Some great ways to up your step count are:
- Utilize a fitness watch – Not only will the watch track how much walking is being done, but most can also prompt you to get out of your seat every hour to ensure you’re getting enough movement throughout the day.
- Park farther away – If you’re pulling up to the shopping mall or an office complex, instead of fighting traffic for the closest spot, find a space in the back of the parking lot and work off a few extra calories on your jaunt to and from your car.
- Socialize with friends – Instead of lazing on the couch at a buddy’s house, meet at a local park and take a stroll to increase NEAT while catching up on the latest gossip.
- Get Spot out of the house – If you have a dog, make a plan to prioritize his needs by committing to a daily walk. This will benefit his health while shaving off some calories.
Because a calorie deficit without exercise is achievable, you can still give into that gooey glazed greatness, just make sure you keep some movement in your routine!
Can’t Say No to Donuts? Do Your Best to Eat Healthy The Rest of The Day
I’ve come to the realization that I can’t have every single thing that I want; so, when fitting things in that I love, like a big old powdered sugar donut, I might have to find healthier food options for the rest of the day.
The United States Department of Agriculture stresses the importance of a well-rounded diet that consists of fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, protein-rich foods, and oils to achieve overall health.4 So, just because I satiate my need for a pastry on a daily basis, doesn’t mean I should let my diet slide for the remainder of the day.
On a day when a chocolate eclair is unavoidable, try to fill the rest of your meals and snacks with nutritious items that will enhance your dietary needs. Here are some ideas to cut back on calories:
Typical Choice: Soda
- Healthier Alternative = Diet Soda
- Estimated Calorie Savings = 140
Typical Choice: Banana and Peanut Butter
- Healthier Alternative = Non-Fat Yogurt with a Side of Fruit
- Estimated Calorie Savings = 50
Typical Choice: Cheeseburger
- Healthier Alternative = Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Estimated Calorie Savings = 152
Typical Choice: Chips
- Healthier Alternative = Air-popped Popcorn
- Estimated Calorie Savings = 50
Typical Choice: Chicken Fettucine Alfredo
- Healthier Alternative = Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Estimated Calorie Savings = 400
Making mindful swaps and choosing healthy foods a majority of the time can change the answer for the question, “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight?” from no to yes and save you multiple calories a day while allowing continued weight loss!
Go for Lower Calorie Donuts or Pastries
Choosing a chocolate-covered, cream, and calorie-filled pastry on a daily basis proves a bit harder to recover from, so seeking out lower calorie options still allows me the freedom of enjoying my sweet treats without the consequences of all the extra sugar and fat.
Some donuts and pastries that fit this criterion are part of my rotation and have quickly risen to some of my favorites:
- Sugar Donut – One sugar donut is around 190-210 calories, which puts it at the lower end of the calorie spectrum.
- French Cruller – A plain glazed cruller is light and airy and ranges from between 230 and 240 calories and is more of a classic way to fill a donut craving.
- Maple Iced – If you’re looking for something a bit different, a maple iced donut is a great option and only comes in between 240 to 260 calories.5
Ultimately, awareness of the calorie content of donuts being eaten will help, along with being mindful while structuring the rest of your day by adjusting movement and other food intakes accordingly.
Above All Else, Ensure You’re in a Calorie Deficit
The absolute most critical thing when answering, “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight?” is making sure you remain in a calorie deficit.
Losing weight naturally can only be achieved through a calorie deficit – it’s simply the law of thermodynamics. This can be accomplished by eating fewer calories than the body naturally burns in a day or by adding to the number of calories that your body burns in a day by exercising.6
Learning how many calories your body burns in a day is crucial when trying to calculate a calorie deficit. And a part of making that is understanding your own total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE, is a combination of the aforementioned BMR and NEAT, along with calories burned through exercise.
Using this Body Weight Planner hosted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services not only helps with determining TDEE but also gives a calorie deficit suggestion to reach your weight loss goals.7
Note, to estimate your TDEE, list you want to lose 0 pounds. But then go through it again and type in your actual goals to get a baseline of where to start.
Is It Normal to Feel Guilty After Eating a Donut? Why?
Before starting the journey to figure out if I could fit donuts into my life in a healthy way, I was obsessed with how to stop eating junk food and sugar. I struggled with a terrible cycle of eating a donut, feeling guilty, completely cutting out donuts, then binge eating them when I couldn’t resist.
Guilt in association with food is a common feeling, especially when it comes to donuts and other sweets. This is partially due to the fact that society is so focused on the nutrition content of food that we are constantly aware of whether food may not be the healthiest.8
Instead of just knowing the nutritional content of food and working around it, we begin to label foods as good and bad and eating starts to feel like a moral battle instead of something that is done to fuel your body.
There is room for all types of food in your diet, especially ones you enjoy, it just takes some time and effort to figure out how to work them in. The more you practice healthy weight loss rules, the faster the guilt and shame should fade.
Will Eating a Donut or Sweets Ruin My Diet? Will I Still Lose Weight?
Eating a donut, or sweets of any kind will only ruin your diet if you let it. In fact, any food can cause weight gain if a calorie deficit isn’t being maintained.
It is important to remember that certain foods, such as sugary donuts, can trigger additional cravings and may tend to cause dieters to want to stray from healthier food choices on a daily basis.
Instead of letting cravings spoil the effort you’ve invested in your weight loss journey after you’ve eaten a donut and you’re still asking the question, “Why am I craving cereal, candy, and cake?”, try to employ ways to combat those feelings by:
- Drinking more water
- Adding more satiating foods to your diet
- Eating smaller but more frequent meals
- Substituting healthier options during cravings
Is it Okay to Eat a Donut Once a Week or Everyday? Or is Every Once in Awhile Best?
While I definitely have indulged in donuts on a daily basis, I recognize that, because they contain higher levels of saturated fat and sugar, I should probably give into my cravings less often, not only due to weight loss but because of overall health reasons.
Saturated fat and sugar can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc, and lessen the length and quality of life. So, figuring out how to reduce my donut consumption is something to work toward.
In the meantime, remaining in a calorie deficit and sticking with all the tips and tricks I’ve mentioned above is a surefire way to drop some pounds and maintain health while enjoying irresistible treats, such as pastries and donuts.
Meal Plan Example of How Donuts Can Be Worked Into a Diet
If you’re wanting to know, “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight?”, but aren’t sure how a daily routine would look, I’ve laid out an example of meals for a day that will hopefully provide some inspiration.
Assuming a dieter wants to lose half a pound a week, because 1,750 calories are equal to half a pound, dividing 1,750 by 7 days will give a calorie deficit of 250 calories per day.
If you have a TDEE of 2,500 calories, subtracting the above 250 calories will leave you with 2,250 calories a day to achieve a half a pound weekly weight loss.
Example Meal Plan (Can I Eat a Donut and Still Lose Weight? Yes!)
Breakfast (6:00 AM): English Muffin, Egg, Avocado, and Coffee with Cream
- Calories = 442
Donut Time (10:00 AM): Glazed Chocolate Donut from Krispy Kreme Donuts and Protein Shake
- Calories = 440
Lunch (1:00 PM): Grilled Chicken Salad with Ranch Dressing and Diet Soda
- Calories = 648
Snack (3:30 AM): Half a Banana with One Tablespoon of Peanut Butter with Water
- Calories = 148
Dinner (6:00 PM): Grilled Salmon with Wild Rice and Broccoli
- Calories = 556
Total Calories = 2234
The above plan places “Donut Time”, which includes a glazed chocolate donut and a protein shake, directly after a heavy workout, which was suggested earlier. You can see that even though a donut was consumed during the day, it has been supplemented with healthy foods and the total calories for the day come in just under the recommended calorie deficit.
My hope is that these tips have given you the freedom to find a way to incorporate things that you love into your daily diet. Instead of asking, “Can I eat a donut and still lose weight”, you’ll have the tools to build a plan that allows you to lose weight while not giving up your favorite foods.
FAQ About Can I Eat a Donut and Still Lose Weight?
How Many Donuts a Day Will Make Me Gain Weight?
Calculating the number of donuts that will cause weight gain is dependent on TDEE, how many calories each donut consists of, and how many other calories are consumed in a day.
Using the dieter’s information above that has a TDEE of 2500 along with the meal layout, if one additional donut was eaten (340 calories each), the total calorie consumption for the day would be 2,554 calories a day.
This puts the subject at 74 calories over their maintenance goal and can cause a weight gain of over half a pound a month. So in essence, anywhere from one donut to ten donuts a day can make you gain weight, but to paint a full picture, you must consider how many calories you’ve eaten that day already and how many calories you can “afford” to consume.
Can I Eat Sweets and Still Lose Weight?
While sweets aren’t the healthiest of foods, they can be eaten in moderation while on a weight loss regimen. Of course, too much sugar can be detrimental but treating yourself here and there can serve as a sort of positive reinforcement too.
1Miranda, T. (n.d.). Daily Sugar Intake. Angeles Institute. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from <https://www.angelesinstitute.edu/thenightingale/daily-sugar-intake>
2Skolnik, H. (2021, August 30). Here’s What to Eat Before and After a Workout. HSS. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from <https://www.hss.edu/article_eat-before-after-workout.asp>
3Adeva-Andany, M. M., Gonzalez-Lucan, M., Donapetry-Garcia, C., Fernandez-Fernandez, C., & Ameneiros-Rodriguez, E. (2016, February 27). Glycogen metabolism in humans – PMC. NCBI. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4802397>
4United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). 2020-2025. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from <https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf>
5Cheat Day Design. (2022, February 4). How Many Calories Are In Each Popular Flavor Of Donuts? Cheat Day Design. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from <https://cheatdaydesign.com/donut-calories/>
6United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Interested in Losing Weight? Nutrition.gov. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from <https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/healthy-living-and-weight/strategies-success/interested-losing-weight>
7U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Body Weight Planner | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from <https://www.niddk.nih.gov/bwp>
8Jackson, N. (2020, November 4). Five reasons to ditch food guilt, and how to do it. Healthy Food Guide. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from <https://www.healthyfood.com/advice/five-reasons-to-ditch-food-guilt-and-how-to-do-it/>