While cheating in your relationship might lead to tough times, cheating on your diet is crucial. We break it down why and how you should cheat on your diet for fat loss!
The thing about cheat meals is that almost every diet incorporates it in one way or the other. This is not only to give you some much needed flexibility in your diet plan but also to balance out your fat loss process as you will come to understand below. Basically your body hates you if you are a physique athlete. In reality your body just adapts to the latest circumstances rather well.
First and foremost you need to ask yourself; do I need to lose fat or lose weight? There’s a difference? Absolutely! Losing weight means seeing the digits on the scale go down. Losing weight can be a combination of water weight, muscle mass and fat whereas, no points for guessing here, fat loss is losing only fat. Bit of advise; you want to lose the latter because that’s what gets you ‘ripped’. So if you want to lose weight, simply eat less and do more cardio. End of story. If you want to lose fat however, read on.
Weight loss means losing weight which may or may not consist of water weight, fat and muscle mass. Fat loss means only losing fat
Fat loss is a complicated beast to tame and therefore we must ask ourselves what are the keys to losing fat. The three factors that affect fat loss are time, calories and re—feeds.
- Time is one of the most simple yet perplexing ideas to fat loss. If you think you can lose belly fat in six weeks, please go throw that thought away. This isn’t possible. Pacing yourself and setting realistic goals is the key here. For eg: if you are 25% body fat and you want abs, that isn’t a realistic goal. The best time to allocate for fat loss is losing 0.5kg per week. Any more and any faster, you’ll be losing muscle mass. Also don’t even think about crash dieting. Your metabolism will crash if you cut calories too quickly and you won’t be able to do anything then.
- Calories, although second on the list, is the most important rule. You HAVE to be in a caloric deficit, which means calculating your calories and going below maintenance. The important thing to also note while calculating your calories is the kind of calories you eat. For eg: if my target calories are at 1700, for fat loss, I can either eat pizza and other junk (of 1700 calories) or I can eat 1700 calories of chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli. I’ll let you choose which route you want to take.
- Re-Feeds are strategic days where you take your daily macronutrients and basically have a lot of carbohydrates. Around 130% actually! Having a high carb day will offset your hormone levels, thus maintaining a healthy metabolism and you can furthermore soldier onwards in your fat loss journey.
A cheat meal is a meal that you intake to keep yourself sane. Quite simply put it could mean attacking an all-you-can-eat buffet and smash down 5000 calories. This, quite obviously, is detrimental to our fat loss journey. Re-feeds are however, strategically planned high carb days that will help you in your fat loss journey. Besides keeping you mentally sane and keeping you on your path to fat loss; a cheat day can hormonally be beneficial as well. If you are pursuing a low-fat diet, then giving yourself a cheat day which is high in fat will increase your t-3, leptin and balance your thyroid levels, which in essence will speed up fat loss. What’s important to note is that this should be only done for one day. After that, back to the diet.
Creating a caloric deficit is quite simple actually. While counting calories might be a pain, it is the only way to sustained, effective and permanent fat loss. There are numerous calorie calculators available for easy and sustained fat loss. Just remember to not cut your calories too drastically. Be in a 200 calorie deficit for a few weeks. Weigh yourself daily. If there aren’t any changes. Cut back on another 100 calories. By the hit and trail method you will find the sweet spot wherein you are losing 0.5kg per week. When you find it, stick to it, because this is the optimal range for fat loss.
Cheat meals are enormously beneficial. Because you are dieting and cutting your calories; not to mention you are increasing cardio to promote fat loss, will leave you severely depleted. Due to the fact that your hunger will increase, your muscle mass will be slowly eaten away by the body requiring more nutrients that you aren’t providing it with. Your muscles will become resistant to growth because of the low glycogen levels (hello low carb diets!). All possible hormones like t-3, igf-1 are reduced.
A typical Re-Feed will consist of low fat, moderate protein and high carbohydrates. Just eat 110-130% of your daily macronutrient allowance as carbohydrates and fill out the rest with protein and fat.
Leptin, a hormone that normally surpasses appetite, is an important factor to consider. During intense dieting, it can increase, thus increasing your appetite. With the added occasional cheat meal, you can decrease the hunger pangs. By increasing your calories, you would confuse the body and thus decreasing leptin levels for days to come.
Don’t go overboard with this concept now that you know about re-feeds. Too much of a good thing is bad because if you occasionally refeed, the extra glycogen will be stored as fat. Use these techniques as a tool, not as a crutch
The final thing to remember here is that all bodies are made differently. The best advise I can give you is that you need to learn how to listen to your body. Some bodies might actually not do well with re-feeds and/or cheat meals. Listen to your body and you will get rewarded exponentially!