How One Diet Cheat Day Every Single Week Can Promote More Weight Loss
Up until about a month ago I have never used a diet cheat day when my goal was to lose weight. I had read mixed reviews and opinions concerning whether or not they were actually effective for weight loss. More often than not, when I did read a positive take on diet cheat days it was based around muscle building and not weight loss. This gave me even more reason to believe that cheating on your diet was a BAD thing. My opinion has changed.
mmm, pizza – my favorite cheat day diet food! We’ll talk more about this in just a minute.
Dieting CAN be hard work. Also, there are so many different approaches out there that it can be just as hard work to pick one. There is one universal approach though. The one thing that most diets are based around is creating a calorie deficit. After all, eating less calories than you consume is a PROVEN and undeniable way to lose weight.
In the past I have lost weight following Eat Stop Eat with great results. I could eat virtually whatever I wanted without counting calories and lose weight. Sounds good, I know. More recently though, I’ve been testing out a “new” method for losing weight. Yes, if you’ve read my last couple of blog posts you’ll know that the “new” method of losing weight that I have been following is good old-fashioned low calorie diet … I am even counting my calories.
How Diet Cheat Days Are Good For Fat Loss
To be fair, I’m not going to say that counting calories is BETTER than following Eat Stop Eat. In fact, I have still been using the ESE along with my calorie counting.
The main idea behind ESE is that you are creating a calorie deficit over the course of the week … not each day. Some days you will eat above maintenance, others you will eat well below. At the end of the week though, you will have eaten under your caloric requirement if you didn’t pig out on feeding days.
So what does this have to do with cheating on your diet every week? Instead of eating a little looser than normal throughout the week and then relying on my two fasting days to make up for some extra calories, I have been counting calories throughout the week.
The problem here is that the body adapts to living off of fewer calories. Dieting and following a low calorie plan actually makes your body less efficient at burning fat from week to week. Why?
- Your levels of Leptin decrease (lessens fat burning)
- T3 & T4 thyroid hormones decrease (slows metabolism)
- Ghrelin increases (increases hunger)
- Cortisol increases (believed to cause belly fat)
- Metabolic rate decreases
Yes, dieting is terrible. BUT, there is an solution. High fat and high glycemic carb cheat days fix everything … seriously.
You don’t have to eat “cheat foods” if you don’t want to. You can consume extra fat and high glycemic carb foods however you choose. It is important that you get enough though. For me, I’ll stick to my fav’s … nachos & pizza.
Do You HAVE To Cheat On Your Diet?
The truth is, no. Although your body does continually get worse and worse at burning fat after being on a diet, you do not HAVE to cheat on your diet to lose weight. You can stick with eating low calories and suffering through every week without let up … it is possible and many have done so and continue to do so. Your body will not completely shut down fat burning. It will come off eventually.
My question though, is why would you do so? I get it, trust me. You feel guilty after the day has ended. One or two days afterwards you start to second guess yourself, wondering if you made a HUGE mistake.
Depending upon your body’s response time though, guess what. Two or three days later you weigh LESS than before your cheat day. This is real. This actually happens. Over the course of the last 5 weeks I’ve seen this to be true EVERY SINGLE time.
Guidelines To Ensure Your Cheat Day’s Maximum Effectiveness
There are a few things that I have been doing that make my cheat day an almost guaranteed success.
Guideline #1: Don’t over drink. This is horrible news as well, I agree. Unfortunately all of the good hormonal effects that a cheat day brings on … alcohol cancels out. If you are going to over drink … skip the cheat day or you WILL gain weight.
The general consensus is that “over drinking” (as far as diet cheat days go) is more than one drink. Basically, if you can feel it at all, you’ve had too much. Me personally, I don’t drink any alcohol at all … and I am a big fan of beer. When it comes to shedding fat though, you’ve got to decide what you want more. Once you get to maintenance, beer in moderation is fine.
Guideline #2: Fast directly after your cheat day. This is actually probably less important than guideline #1 but I really like this one. The BEST day for a fast, or even a low calorie day in general, is directly after a high calorie day.
Not only is a 24 hour fast easier after having eaten all of your favorite foods and after having satisfied any cravings … it’s more effective.
Also, it helps even out the calories for the week. Say you are eating strict diet of 1,500 calories per day. Your body is feeling the pangs and you decide to reset your body’s fat burning ability and metabolism with a much deserved diet cheat day on Saturday. That bumps your projected calories up considerably.
But, if you cut out two meals and eat a good “diet dinner” on Sunday you have only added 500 calories extra to your whole week. In the end, these extra 500 calories are NOT going to stunt weight loss either.
- Monday – 1,500 calories
- Tuesday – 1,500 calories
- Wednesday – 1,500 calories
- Thursday – 1,500 calories
- Friday – 1,500 calories
- Saturday – 3,000 calories
- Sunday – 500 calories
In addition to the calories being getting leveled out for the week, you get all of the benefits of the fast. If you haven’t seen this video about the similarities in fasting and exercise check it out real quick.
Guideline #3: Don’t go to extremes! For many the thought of a CHEAT DAY means one thing … go all out. That is not the case.
While it is okay, and in fact good, to eat anything you want, don’t STUFF your face. Eat until you are full. Do not eat until you are full and then move onto your next meal because it’s something different and you want to get as much food down as you possibly can.