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.
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.
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.
I like everyone’s thoughts on this! A couple of other things that occur to me are that a strategic refeed would probably consist of eating foods that are higher in complex carbs or fat than you have been eating. That would be productive. However, that’s not usually what someone craves when they have been low calorie/low carb for an extended period of time. So maybe you want pizza or pasta or something like that. Plan it, eat, don’t gorge yourself. Then 3 hours later, whether you’re hungry or not, eat one of your clean meals. This is similar to brushing your teeth after dinner, it’s like a reset. You had a treat, and now you’re putting closure to it and getting right back on track, without going on a 3 or more day eating frenzy afterwards. Don’t let fear rule this choice. You have control over the food.
The better thing to do is to find a way to eat healthy and enjoy it so you can stick to that diet the rest of your life. Almost all foods can be part of a healthy diet. There should really be such a thing as “naughty foods”, but there should be foods that you make sure you get and some foods that you try to limit consumption.