In our last piece regarding the cheat meal and questions regarding the cheat, we talked about the psychological de-load. I you have not been able to read that, click here for a review .
In part II we would like to review how a structured cheat meal helps your metabolism.
Why Cheat Part II: The Metabolism Kick start
Protracted calorie restriction in the pursuit of weight loss, whether deliberate (weighing, measuring, counting) or spontaneous low carb focus on nutrient density to promote satiety), can depress metabolic rate and stall weight loss.
A cheat meal can kickstart the metabolism and keep the weight loss going, not despite the massive influx of calories but because of it. When you eat a big meal, a few good things happen:
Fact 1: Leptin is increased.
What is Leptin? Leptin is a hormone that interacts with the hypothalamus to suppress food intake and increase energy expenditure. Leptin is reduced by low levels of body fat (body fat actually secretes leptin) and prolonged caloric restriction. (This is why you feel like you can eat forever after you have dieted for a spell.)
So if you’ve lost body fat in the past, stalled, and further reduced food intake to bust the plateau, you’re doing a double whammy on leptin. A big meal, especially if it’s high in carbs and even if it’s a cheat meal, can restore leptin levels so that weight loss can resume. This is a major reason why we allow the cheat. Leptin is so powerful that cheating allows you to restore the power of your WILL and continue.
How many people do you know that have been on a “diet” for 2 weeks constantly complain that they just can’t do it anymore? They feel extreme hunger or say they have “hunger” pains, which seems uncontrollable. I bet you now posses the simple tools to help these people.
Fact 2: Thyroid Hormones are restored.
Ever feel cold in the morning when you are restricting calories? = Thyroid.
Thyroid hormone increases. T3, the “active” thyroid hormone, is generally lowered during prolonged calorie restriction. This is normal, and as long as your energy levels are good and weight loss is maintained, a nominally depressed T3 is physiological and expected and nothing to fret over. But extended calorie restriction accompanied by fatigue, malaise, and weight plateaus or gain is a sign of too low a T3. Re-read that last sentence!
That’s where an acute bout of overfeeding — a cheat meal — can help by restoring your thyroid function to physiological levels.
Fact 3: Sugar stores are refilled; leading to harder workouts , more acute mental clarity and general psychological well being
Glycogen refills. If you’re coming off a low-carb diet, a cheat meal full of carbs can restock your glycogen stores and make subsequent high-intensity, anaerobically-demanding fitness pursuits more fruitful.
Before you jump into a regimented cheat meal, keep a few things in mind:
1. Cheating is relative.
Cheating can be “healthy.” You don’t have to gorge on Hostess cupcakes, McDonald’s fries, and Pizza for it to be a cheat meal. Maybe you cheat with a ridiculous amount of fresh strawberries in whipped cream and melted dark chocolate. Maybe you cheat with a pound of mashed sweet potatoes mixed with cinnamon and coconut oil. Maybe you cheat with a huge batch of homemade fries. Those are all examples of wholesome high-carb meals resembling (and often surpassing in taste) common junk foods that could provide a kickstart to your metabolic rate.
“Cheating isn’t cheating if you’re not in a committed relationship with a clean, wholesome diet.” – From our education on “Is Discipline a Myth?” – would you let your children gorge uncontrollably on unhealthy food?
You have to have something to “cheat on.” If you’re already eating fast food five times a week, that cheat meal isn’t a cheat meal anymore.
“Chronically consumed cheat meals , elicit unfavorable metabolic effects and can undo an entire good week of eating.” Cheat Smart – follow the rules.
Components to a healthy cheat.
10% of your meals consumed in the week. – no exception.
Try to keep something healthy in there.
First, make sure you have your protein base at the meal. Remember your 1 or 2 palm rules.
If you feel hemmed in on all sides by too much dietary purity, a cheat meal could even be a good idea. If you wind up hung over just because you tried one of your friend’s French fries last night, a regular cheat meal might be able to cultivate more robustness.
Don’t think just because you read this that you “have to have a cheat meal.” It’s just a suggestion. Only do it if it makes sense and helps you stick to an overall healthy, enjoyable way of eating and living.
PS some cheat meals will make you very hot at night, almost like severe hot flashes. This is normal. Its your metabolism running wild. Don’t call the ambulance (PS it has happened before)