If your fitness plans include a fat-loss diet as part of your plan to get fit at last, you know that staying on your diet is going to be hard. It’s going to take a lot of discipline to stick with it 100% of the time, and you’re probably already mourning the loss of some of your favorite foods. So this may come as a shock to you, but cheating (on your diet) is sometimes a necessity. At least, cheating is good when you do it right.
When you’re want to lose significant weight, you need to work out more, but you also need to control the amount of food you consume. To get really lean, you will have to start eating fewer calories than necessary to keep your weight were it is now. And your body isn’t going to like that.
Your body adapts to changes. You know that when you eat too much, your body adapts by storing the excess as fat. Your body will also adapt to a significant and sustained reduction in calories. If the number of calories you eat drops a lot, your body will eventually adapt to this situation. It adapts by acting as if there is a famine and you are in danger of starvation.
When your body is in starvation mode, it behaves differently. It starts storing every calorie it can as fat, since it thinks there is a famine in progress and it doesn’t know when you’ll get enough food again. It dials down your metabolism slows, leaving you with less energy. Your body puts less effort into maintaining and repairing your joints and muscles, since the top priority is to survive until there’s more food. If the “famine” last too long, it starts consuming your muscles as fuel while preserving the fat for an even more dire emergency.
The outcome of this adaptation isn’t pleasant. You end up listless, with little energy to exercise. If you do get up the energy to exercise, your workout suffers. You tend to get hurt quickly, and healing takes way too long. Everything you eat gets stored as blubber around your waist. Your muscles might actually start to fade away. Not the best conditions for working out and getting in shape. This is where cheating helps you succeed.
Missing a few meals, or even going without food for a few days won’t flip your body over into starvation mode. It takes a sustained calorie shortfall for that to happen. If you don’t stay a low calorie levels for too long at a stretch, your body will stay in its normal mode and your diet will remain effective. You’ll get the positive aspects of your diet program without the nasty side effects of your body switching to starvation mode.
So, to ensure that your serious fat-loss diet remains effective, you need to go off the plan once in a while. Every so often, you need to eat significantly more than the plan calls for, to keep your body from going into starvation mode. And there’s another benefit. If you eat your favorite junk food on thedays when you break the diet, it becomes that much easier to stick with the plan the other days. After all, there’s a big difference between giving up your favorite foods altogether, and still eating them on your cheating days.
The easiest way to do this is to eat anything you want about once a week. But this approach isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to go. If you want to get the best fat loss results possible, while still avoiding starvation mode, you should get expert advice on all aspects of the way you eat, including whether cheating is appropriate for your situation.