When it comes to getting SKINNY, eating a lot is your No. 1 nemesis
It’s the hardest part of losing weight—especially in the long term.
Don’t get us wrong, trudging along the running path before the sun rises or squatting your twice weight after a full workday can be a PITA, but not giving in to the desire to devour half your fridge can be harder. We have a huge sugar fiend eating away at us but are able to resist thanks to two wonderful words: cheat day.
AKA The Day Off Diet
Don’t get us wrong, for most of the week splenda frozen pops are my sugar fix, but that doesn’t mean we’re always on a THIN prep diet. Yes, you must cheat.
Use the 90/10 rule to maintain sanity but, even more important, Use it as a dietary tool.
When utilized, the day off diet can be a fabulous engine to help carve your body.
It may reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin uptake, replenish glycogen for increased energy, and keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high.
Before you take that as a sign to rummage through your cupboards or head for the drive-thru, realize that cheat meals aren’t a free-for-all. Cheat smart with these five tips.
UNDERSTAND THE SCIENCE BEHIND RESTRICTION DIETS
Regardless of how healthy we aim to be when dieting, cutting calories comes at a cost. In order to produce extreme leanness, many diets inevitably utilize weeks of calorie deficits and lower carbohydrates. Know the changes that occur within your body due to dietary caloric and carbohydrate restriction to help you understand why a cheat meal can actually be beneficial. Here’s a quick hormonal tour!
Leptin, a protein mainly produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance in the body. It acts on the brain’s hypothalamus to suppress food intake and stimulate the use of energy, or calories. Leptin plays a key role in regulating body weight and fat mass through its stimulating effect on the brain. In fact, studies have shown that within 24 hours of fasting, leptin levels decrease to 30 percent of their normal value.1
But it doesn’t end with leptin. Ghrelin, a peptide hormone mainly produced by the stomach, is an appetite stimulant that signals the release of growth hormone. Low-calorie diets and chronic exercise have been shown to result in increased ghrelin concentrations, which may lead to increasing food intake and body weight.
In addition to affecting appetite and energy use through leptin and ghrelin, sustained caloric-deficit diets also cause the body to attempt to conserve energy by decreasing levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which help regulate and maintain metabolism. Sustained low-carbohydrate diets deplete the body of glycogen stores and can leave you feeling sluggish and weak, which can negatively affect your training performance.
Competition diets tend to cut to the extreme and cause dramatic bodily changes. Their effects can even mimic those seen in patients affected with anorexia nervosa and hypothyroidism. Basically, some competition prep diets can near the verge of a starvation diet, causing hormonal imbalances and slowing metabolism as the body attempts to adapt and maintain balance. Competitors, in particular, must balance their need to train intensely with their need for dietary restriction.
Be just as intense and strict about scheduling rest days, incorporating variety into your diet, and allowing for weekly cheat meals as you are about training. If you compete, know the toll that the sport can take on your body, and visit your primary care physician once or twice each year for a health check-up and blood work to monitor any changes in hormone balance.