Today I’m going to explain why cheat meals are not just ok but in many cases needed, but first let me explain a bit more on how your body works.
Chronic overeating (especially the wrong things) makes you fat.You knew that.
Chronic under eating KEEPS you fat.You might not have known that.
That’s why normal “diets” stall and ultimately fail.We go from states of overeating to states of damn near starving. Your body freaks out and holds on to its stored body fat through a series of hormonal checks. Now if you are always way below on your calories or I should say nutrient intake keeping your body in a “starvation diet” these hormone levels are never high enough to release fat from the body which we will get into.
One of the big hormones involved is leptin. It is considered one of the most important hormones in body fat regulation. Leptin is nice and high when we eat a lot. Also when we carry a lot of body fat. When leptin is nice and high your body has no problem allowing fat loss to occur.Understand that it does not just happen because leptin is high, there has to be a reason forthe bodyto giveupthe bodyfat.
That is where a caloric deficit comes in.That means we need to consume less calories then we burn, which I’m sure you’ve heard before.Eat less and move more which means diet and exercise.
Uh, no.You see that is where the problem comes in.When calories are restricted leptin levels begin to fall.When leptin levels are low the body will bring all fat loss to a halt. Great,now what?
It seems we have no choice but to eat more to get leptin levels up. But if we eat too much we get fat.See the problem? It can be a vicious circle.
But there is good news- We can use this information to our advantage.We can take what we know about leptin and make it work FOR us instead of against us.
How do we do this? Simple: Strategic cheating coupled with specialized workouts.
The facts on cheat meals
To be clear, a “cheat” is a pre-determined period of high calories and carbs, it doesn’t necessarily mean cake, cookies, pop, booze ect. The best cheat for our purpose is high in carbs, moderate protein and low fat. But basically anything will work so long as your carbs are high.Do not stuff yourself, but there is no need to limit either. I will further say that you should plan on only 1cheat meal/night per week.
Now thats where it can get ticky becauase each persons idea of a “cheat” is different. One way to tell if you’re overdoing it is if you feel you are doing the exercie and depletion aspects properly and you aren’t losing weight. Start your cheats moderately and adjust based on your results. Another miss step is when people cheat through the week and their body isn’t at a caloric or macronutrient deficit and “think” they deserve a cheat meal. This will only cause you to gain more weight. Thats why a basic understanding of nutrition is ideal.
Now for example if you were trying to lose weight you would keep calories (relatively) low on“normal”days, but then going much higher on“cheat”days.By keeping calories low we will be creating a caloric deficit so your body must turn to body fat for fuel. BUT you HAVE to use resistance training (specialized workouts)to maintain and even increase the metabolism for this to work.This is backed by research that shows even when calories are dropped to RIDICULOUSLY low levels lean body mass and metabolism are maintained and even increased–so long as there is resistance exercise as part of the program.
But remember what I said about leptin levels when you diet? They drop. And what happens when they drop? Fat loss stops.
That is where the cheats come in.We will use the cheats to up-regulate leptin levels.You see your body produces leptin when calories are high, and it does it fast too.So that means even a short cheat can get leptin pumping again and get you ready to burn fat once again
To be a bit more specific, leptin levels are influenced by 2 main things: Caloric intake and muscle glycogen levels. Glycogen is the stored muscle sugar(carb), and is in general a good thing.When dieting and working out glycogen levels will fall as we exercise and the sugar is used to exercise.
You can think of your muscles like sponges.When you work out they get rung out. And that is just fine as it forces your body to use fat for fuel. But to get leptin levels up we should refill these glycogen tanks.
Again, this is where the cheat comes in. So let’s put it all together.
When we diet calories and glycogen drop and thus so too do leptin levels. Then fat loss comes to a screeching halt. Ok, let’s fix that with the cheat. A short cheat one evening a week will do the trick quite nicely. Leptin levels rise, and now you are in a perfect position to burn fat again.
Ok, I know that was maybe a bit much to take in. Basically what you need to know is that you put your body at a deficit to start the weight loss process and you have a cheat once a week to re boost your liptin levels to make sure you don’t plateau. This works best coupled with specialized workouts built for fat loss.
Now do you understand cheat meals?
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