One of the first questions people ask when they begin a weight loss program is when they can “cheat” or eat their favorite foods again. Lucky for my clients, I am a huge believer in “off-plan” meals to help them lose body fat and boost their metabolism. Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, a closer look reveals why cutting yourself some slack may actually help you shed pounds.
In order to see success on any type of nutrition program, dieters will have to be in a caloric deficit, and eat clean, healthy foods the majority of their meals. Psychologically, the “off-plan” meal will make strict eating more feasible. It’s much easier to stick to a healthy eating plan if you allow yourself a little flexibililty. Even the most dedicated dieters will find it easier to stick to healthy eating when they can look forward to a most needed cheat at the end of their week.
There is a psychological component to the cheat meal as well. Without rewards, it can become mundane to keep a healthy lifestyle day in and day out. But more important is the science behind why we need an occasional “off-plan” indulgence. It all starts with leptin, a protein produced by fat tissue that helps regulate body weight and fat mass by impacting appetite and the body’s energy balance. Having your body in a constant caloric deficit will eventually cause your energy levels to plummet. A calorie and carbohydrate load up provided by your cheat meal will help the body maintain energy levels needed to motivate you to continue on your weight loss journey. By restoring your leptin and glycogen levels the scale will move, your percentage of body fat will drop, and you will be one happy dieter!
So the next time you think having that pizza or ice cream you are craving will derail all your hard work, throw in your cheat meal to signal your body that it isn’t in starvation mode and it should feel free to release the fat it is holding on to. The most important advise I give my clients is to NOT FEEL GUILTY! Enjoy every bite of your “off-plan” meal, and watch your body get leaner and leaner with every bite!
What do you think? Do you use weekly or bi-weekly cheats and see great results? TheFittChick plan is filled with amazing recipes to help you EAT MORE & WEIGH LESS, but it is always fun to eat cheese fries and Eat Yourself Skinny!