I have been on a very strict low calorie, low fat and high protein diet for the last 2 an 1/2 months along with a strict cardio and weight training routine. I have not strayed but starting to feel the little temptations of a meal that reminds my taste buds the flavor of "being naughty ". The fear is that I have had very good success these last two months and I don't want to lost any hard work but at the same time that same fear makes me wonder if I should reflect on an other issue of being over obsessed with results and not learn proper "normal out of program" moderation etc. Any help would be much appreciated.
To me the most important question is how do you want to eat for the rest of your life? I’m not really sure what a “cheat meal” is. Is it something you’d really like to eat but think you can’t. Why not?
I suspect that you are well aware of the most current research on what comprises a healthy nutritional lifestyle. It’s not one meal. It’s what you eat most of the time. And balance that with plenty of vigorous exercise.
Your dietary plan has to be a comfortable, enjoyable part of your lifestyle. If it’s a rigor it won’t last for long.
Cheat meals are typically an excuse to binge, plain and simple. There is no reason why discretionary allowance cannot be utilized to have some “fun foods” multiple times a week, whilst fulfilling caloric needs – not exceeding them. This by no means is “cheating”, but sticking to your diet in a manner that allows sanity to be maintained. This allows for cravings to be satiated, while only utilizing 10-20% of daily calories for “junk” or “fun food”. The average person could allow around 300-400 calories a day (a few days a week) to have a scoop or two of ice cream, a candy bar, or whatever suits you. The overall effect on body composition is negligible when utilizing a 10-20% discretionary intake (although at lower daily caloric reqs. the percentage must shrink in order to allot enough calories to whole/nutritious foods). The effect on overall health is too very negligible, considering these foods are on a very limited intake.
A planned adjustment of calories to stimulate metabolism is a whole other factor – however this should be filled with whole foods that are considered healthy and nutritious, rather than “junk”.
Here is a fantasic article by a MS Nutrition/RD that shows you that eating outside the box of “clean” is so much beneficial than subjecting yourself to the torment of “diet” food.
A few years ago I went vegan because I was moving toward a healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking and beginning to exercise again. I was reading a lot about the benefits of a low calorie diet and I read about people who were able to live on fruit alone or vegetables only. At first it was very energizing and I got more from my workouts by eating mostly fruits and veggies. After a few months, however, my energy was starting to fade. My body fat got dangerously low and the body fat meter I was using was not accurate. Even though the scale said I was in the healthy range, I felt that more fat and calories in my diet would be beneficial to my workouts. It’s a good thing I did because when I bought a body fat caliper it showed me that I barely had enough fat to survive, let alone perform intense workouts most days of the week. Now I am working on gaining weight and continuing my regular workouts. Listen to your body and make sure it has a little bit of everything.
I believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle allows for the occasional indulgence. If we completely deprive ourselves of everything that is “bad” for us all of the time, it can feel suffocating. Allowing yourself the occasional “fun” food can be a liberating way of rewarding yourself for your consistent efforts to maintain a healthful lifestyle.
Of course, you must be careful to avoid going overboard and thus I think planning ahead is a great idea.
So long as you earn your indulgence and partake in it in moderation, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.