Everyone, everyone, everyone loves cheat meals. The only problem with them is that many of us feel guilty afterwards. This brief article aims to dispel that guilt and shame and instill pride in your cheating prowess.
First, let’s explain the intent of a cheat meal. Besides being fun and fulfilling and great conversation pieces, cheats serve a very important, and often vital role in a successful diet. On a restricted diet, the human body is exceptionally adept at down-regulating metabolism to adjust to the constant lower calorie intake. To paint a picture of this…Lets say Warren normally eats 3000 calories per day and is maintaining constant weight. Then, Warren suddenly and dramatically drops his total caloric intake to 2000 per day…For the first day of this, Warrens body was fully anticipating its normal 3000 calories, and when it receives only 2000 calories, it is shocked and ends up still burning the standard 3000, leaving Warren with a 1,000 calorie deficit and a solid weight loss….Each successive day that Warren eats 2000 calories though, his body begins to expect only 2000 calories and as such, adjusts to function on 2000 calories..SO day 2, Warren may burn only 2600 calories, day 3, maybe just 2300 calories..Until a few days later when Warren stops losing weight and loses his deficit altogether. This is where the cheat meal comes in….After two weeks of 2000 calories, Warren shocks his system by pounding a large pizza and his total caloric intake rockets to 4500 for the day…His body is, again, shocked! So in response, his metabolism races to adjust..he starts sweating, his heart starts beating and he ends up burning 3800 calories that day….The next day he goes right back to his 2000 calories..His metabolism, however, is still firing hard, and he ends up burning 3400 calories that day, the following day, again on 200o calories, he still burns 2600 calories…So after 4-5 days once his body readjusts to the 2000 calories, Warren has created a net negative as far as calories in vs. calories burned…and he loses weight.
However, let’s say Warren is scared to cheat big and instead has a doughnut on top of his 2000 calories for a total of 2400 calories that day….His body notices, but the small change isn’t really a shock, and it can pretty easily slightly adjust up and take care of the extra 400 calories. The next day his body is right back to burning 2000 calories, and it doesn’t really matter one way or another…..Warren missed the boat on this mini-cheat and did not get any of the benefits.
This is not to say Warren should have tried to eat 10,000 calories on his cheat, as even the most nuclear-powered metabolisms have limitations on what they are able to burn. The trick is to find the correct amount for your metabolism…..As a generality, you want to be at or below your original pre-cheat weight by the 2nd day post-cheat. If you remain heavier, you ate too much. If you are at or about the same weight the day after you ate too little. See the below chart for the right and wrong results from a cheat:
Overall, cheating is not only fun and fulfilling but also serves a very legitimate purpose to achieve your diet goals.