Cheat Day

Cheat Day

A wake up call statement before we get started. The FDA makes no serious effort to control the use of the word “natural” on nutrition labels. Case in point: 7UP boasts that it’s made with “100% Natural Flavors” when, in fact, the soda is sweetened with a decidedly un-natural dose of high fructose corn syrup. Be careful of misleading food labels.

The concept of a cheat meal or cheat day has been around since the inception of diet’s themselves. Staying disciplined for 7-14 days in a row can be both physically and mentally challenging. Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, eating a disciplined diet that is filled with protein, healthy complex carbohydrates, and adequate caloric intake can be become monotonous. This is where the “cheat meal” or “cheat day” comes into play. Most of the issues people have with dieting are mental and not physical. Cravings are powerful and can be taxing on the physical and mental side of humans. The good thing is cheat days or cheat meals can actually have physical benefits for your metabolism as well as giving you a mental break

Physically

Cheat meals keep the body guessing. Similar to when your muscles adapt to the same exercises and rep range from routine and repetitiveness, your metabolism adjusts based on your calorie levels in the same fashion. Just when your body starts to think it has things figured out you surprise it with a radical change in your diet. If you eat the same thing everyday within a few weeks your body will adapt to the caloric intake. You have to spice things up and keep the body confused.

The Science

Leptin is a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. Leptin signifies a slowing metabolism. Whenever you are on a diet for an extended period of time, your body will begin to adjust its metabolic functions in an effort to ‘make due’ with the amount of fuel that it is being given. Your goal is to periodically kick your leptin levels back up so as to avoid the intense physical hunger and the slowed-to-a-crawl metabolism.

Psychologically

The cheat meal can provide a mental break even more so than as a physical break. Mid-week cravings can be pushed aside knowing that you have an awesome reward in the form of a meal coming on the weekend. Allowing yourself this mental break can inhibit future cravings in the weeks to come.

Sunday Brunch; My Cheat Meal

 

Recommendations

Leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism. So, when eating a cheat meal,  you will benefit much more if the majority of your excess calories are coming from good sources of carbohydrates that will turn into glucose.  One day a week increase your caloric intake by 25 to 50% in any way you want but preferably in the form of healthy carbohydrates. The sudden spike in your calories will keep the body guessing and force your metabolism to readjust following the meal along with giving you a mental break.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Cheat Day! | Angela M.D.

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