Cheating has such a bad connotation these days, doesn’t it? No one wants to be a cheater. “Cheaters never prosper,” right? Except, when it comes to weight loss. Deliberate scheduled over-indulgence is both mentally satisfying to keep you on track, good to balance out your hormones, and good for your weight loss goals. Below are the top three reasons you need to start cheating to improve weight loss and attain your health goals.
1. Plan for the inevitable. Keep your self-esteem by scheduling it.
We all know what happens when you are presented with “forbidden fruit”. There is nothing you want to eat more and not even God can talk you out of it! You become obsessed and you negotiate your reasons to have a taste. Pretty soon that taste becomes the whole bag. Then the inevitable guilt creeps in. You say, “I ate the whole bag of M&Ms, so to heck with this diet”. You tell yourself, “I am so weak,” “I lack discipline,” or “See, I knew I couldn’t do this.” Do not throw your goal baby out with the bathwater. You are not a failure, but you did fail to plan for life and human nature when it comes to food.
Scheduling a day or meal to cheat on your diet will increase your compliance to your diet during the rest of the week. This will allow you to relax your obsession and realize you do not have to deny yourself, just delay. It is part of your weight loss plan, so you can feel good about it and not guilty.
2. You sabotage your metabolism by restricting calories.
Weight loss equals, calories in vs. calories out, right. That is the commonly held ‘fact’ in the fitness and health world. Just reduce your calories or just work out more, and it has to work - it is just math, right? WRONG! Your body is smarter than that simple math. That is not to say that playing with those numbers wont make a difference, it WILL. It is just more complex than that. Just like a workout plateau that comes with repeating the same exercise over and over again. Your weight loss will also plateau by just restricting calories or just increasing exercise. Your body downshifts your metabolism to accommodate for the reduced calories. It finds ways to become more efficient. It also increases your appetite the more you work out, which leads to increased food intake. Your body wants to balance the equation and will fight you and your goal.
Bumping up the calorie intake will stimulate your thyroid. When you restrict calories, you reduce the levels of Leptin hormone released and slows down the production of T3 and T4 by the thyroid. All of which slows the metabolism. Why? Your body thinks it is starving, which it kind of is. Cheat days will trick the body into thinking it is getting enough calories (if not too many) and the body will then ignite hormone production. This will in turn allow fat storage to be released as energy to burn.
3. It works! Those who cheat…succeed!
As of right now, everything I have read points to real success with adding cheat meals and cheat days. You assume, “Well, they probably mean a slice of bread or a cookie, or something reasonable, right”? NOPE! The people you would find most credible like Dr. Oz, main-stream doctors, and dieticians would agree that a cheat meal and “smart” cheat days are 100% approved and necessary. Self-proclaimed human guinea pig Tim Ferris, in his book The 4-Hour Body, claims you can go CRAZY with food on cheat day. He admits that the testimonies from his participants are anecdotal, but he reports that you can have a whole day of food ANARCHY and still lose weight. That means all the McRibs, Whoppers, and frapa – lacka-ding-dong mocha latte, triple whips, and extra pump nonsense you can conjure. He makes it a game and contest among friends to eat bear claws, chocolate croissants, and whole pizzas. The findings were that even with poor food choices for a whole day, they lost more weight than those who did not follow his unrestricted cheat day.
Keep in mind these guidelines when implementing your cheat day.
Your will power is like a battery, if you constantly use it to deny yourself, you will cheat eventually. If you can plan for a day to look forward to, you wont have to use as much willpower. You can see the end in sight and you just need enough willpower to delay.
You do not have to go CRAZY on cheat day.
Adding empty calories, new-to-nature molecules, toxins, preservatives, hormones, synthetics and dyes are not healthy. You will still get many benefits from cheating on a day with whatever food you choose, but you can reap more benefits by over indulging on healthy foods.
Expect weight gain after, do not freak out
You will jump up several pounds after cheat day. Do not freak out. That is water weight that you took on because of your likely high carb jam fest. It will be gone in 48 hours, per evidence in the “4-hour Body’.
This is NOT for regular overeaters
Cheat days work on people with a high level of calorie restrictions, not slight modifications. If you are just slightly modifying your food, but not restricting calories, the benefits are going to be more mental than physical.
It is a cheat day, not a cheat life
You are cheating on your diet for a day at most. If you let a cheat day creep into the week, that defeats the purpose. Schedule those cheats and stick to that plan.
I still hate cheaters
You still do not want to be a cheater? Replace cheat with “relax.” You are relaxing your diet rules, does that feel better? I like it better too. It sounds nice like a vacation.
The wrap up
You want to stay sane while restricting calories and you want to jump-start your metabolism that has slowed due to calorie restriction. You can do that by cheating or “relaxing”, your diet. Follow the above tips, be smart about it, and comment with any questions or clarifications.
What’s up next? Diets vs. LifeStyle
Remember that a short-term diet can be dangerous if you have no plan moving forward. You may get the results, but you hop on a weight loss roller coaster. Stay tuned for my next post on making a plan after your diet!