For many North Americans we celebrate the first few days of July with a few days out of the office, which also means a few days off of your diet. The hardest part about keeping on top of your diet is balancing it with your social gatherings, especially ones like Canada Day and the 4th of July. This blog post will not tell you to show up at the BBQ eating just the hot dog sausage without the bun, or the hamburger wrapped in lettuce. I want to help you understand the levels of cheating you should be aware of and how to rebound from those levels. So go ahead eat the buns, and eat the desert but be aware of what you’re doing.
So how much should I cheat?
If you diet hard enough throughout the week than you deserve a “cheat meal” or “meals” for that matter. In special cases like long weekends however cheat meals can turn into cheat days and can really hinder your progress rather than enhancing it.
Understanding how far is TOO FAR!
Cheating is when you break your normal dietary plan by willingly knowing what you’re eating is not going to set you forward. Don’t go out and rationalize the packaging either, if you’re going for a box of cookies and the wrapper says it’s only 100 calories, guess what you’re still eating cookies! Unfortunately, food companies are trying to convince us that the foods we should be indulging in every so often are actually good for us by creating smaller portion packages labelled 50-100 calories per serving.
UNDERSTAND THE 3 LEVELS OF CHEATING
Level 1: “The recommended cheat”: Eat until your satisfied, not more, not less, then back on your diet. This is the easiest one to rebound off of because you’re just satisfying that sugar or sweet craving you’ve been deprived of because of your diet and you’re ready to get back on the saddle again. Your body isn’t suffering from bloat or water retention the next day.
Level 2: “My pants are too tight on me now cheat”: Eating passed satisfaction, and guess what you’ve paid the price and now your pants are too tight! This type of cheat day is much harder to rebound from, you may notice you’ve gained 3-5 lbs. the next day, you wake up with a dry mouth and a bloated stomach. If you think you’re just going to “crap” it all out, guess what your body takes 24-72 hours for your food to digest. So your body really isn’t flushing all the bad food out, it’s just getting rid of some excess food, but a lot of that food will be stored as fat or excess water. It’ll be a more drawn out process to rebound from this type of cheat and we’ll be getting into the process later on this blog.
Level 3: “My Stomach’s telling me NO, But my Mind, My Mind is telling me YES!!”: This type of cheat is eating passed the point of you already feeling sick. Picture an episode of Epic Meal time, where you are the one finishing the whole meal by yourself. You can call this type of cheat “gorging” or “going extremely hard” and you wake up 10-15lbs heavier, with severe bloat in the stomach, ankles and hands. The process to relieve this type of cheat involves a full day fast to recover from and a few tips and tricks to flush your body out.
So thats your laundry list of the different cheat levels you can accomplish, now on to the good stuff….
HOW DO I REBOUND FROM THIS CHEAT?!?!?!?!
Who’s that sexy guy on the basketball court?!
It’s pretty simple, I’ve laid out a few simple rules that you should follow after a cheat meal OR day OR days for that matter.
1) Live life and move on…the damage is done and unfortunately you can’t go backwards in time. You’ve enjoyed the meals while you were eating them, some meals more so than others depending on how bad you cheated but you have to realize that your cheat meal(s) are now over for the next while and you’ll have to continue on with your diet.
2) The next morning as soon as you wake up drink 1 Litre of water. You should essentially be doing this every morning. You’ll definitely need the water because you’ll be waking up with a dry mouth from all the sodium and sugar consumed from your cheat day.
I’ve heard Mike Dolce (famous nutritionist for many MMA athletes) on a podcast tell his audience to drink 2L of water as soon as you wake up to warm up your digestive system. Also the water will help you flush out all the toxins that you consumed the day before, and provide you a kickstart to water consumption that day. Water also will help keep your appetite at bay in case you have extra cravings for junk food after your cheat meal.
3) Consider “fasting“: This is a great way of resetting your system and I’ve used it to get into shape for my last fitness photo shoot and also get my beach body ready this year.
The fasting model in my personal experience was the easiest way for me to rebound from a cheat day. Fasting allows your body to get back on track with a quick reset button by allowing your body to properly digest the cheat meals for 24-36 hours at a time. You’re also allowing your body to rest its digestive system after it’s been on a roller coaster ride of sugar and sodium loaded foods.
Fasting also has a great deal of benefits such as better sleep that night which in turn will increase in Growth Hormone production, allow your body to lose the excess weight you gained during your cheat days, and lastly fasting cleanses and detoxifies your system naturally.
It may not be the easiest method to follow if you have never fasted before so I recommend trying out a 18 hour fast the first time around (remember you also count the hours you sleep as fasted times) and make the first meal of the day something very low-calorie and filled with greens. For example: egg white and spinach omelette, or chicken and asparagus. If you can keep it to 1-2 meals for that day and make sure they are very low-calorie meals. I also call this the “warrior diet’ You can get a lot of great fasting information from my very good friend www.thefatlossninja.com.
4) Drink Teas: The reason I drink teas the next day is to help flush out the toxins and water weight that your body is holding on to.
Just recently, after my fitness photo shoot I went on a 2 day Epic cheat adventure. My list of meals for the 2 days looked like the following, WARNING THESE ARE NOT PALEO DIET FRIENDLY MEALS!:
This is a perfect example of “eating with your mind and not listening to your stomach” I went up 13Lbs. in 2 days. I felt like I just threw away 6 hard weeks of dieting in 2 short days, and I couldn’t get my body back at all. Needless to say, I fasted the next day and just stuck to drinking teas to help curb my appetite and aid as a diuretic to help flush out all the toxins I consumed. I went back down 13lbs. just 24 hours later.
5. Exercise Just because you’re cheating on your diet doesn’t mean that you should give up your entire fitness regimen. After a cheat meal, go for a walk outside and let your body digest the food you’ve consumed. Make sure you get back into your proper training regime the next day, and get a proper cardio session in. My personal favourite fat burning combo is a “complex workout” which I covered in a previous blog post entitled “How to get the most effective workout in the hotel gym”
Cheating: The Final Verdict
I say go for it! As my fellow Torontonian Drake says YOLO “you only live once”. Enjoy the finer things in life, and the devilish food that tempts us, but be aware of the drawbacks that they provide and also how to properly rebound from them. What do you think? Should you be cheating or not cheating on your diet?
I love to hear your questions and feedback on cheat meals/days and how you tackle them and rebound from them.
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