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CHEAT MEAL - A Great Way to Break Plateau

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Old 12-11-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Default CHEAT MEAL - A Great Way to Break Plateau

This is an excerpt from a Personal Trainer on why weekly cheat meals help break plateaus and keep our metabolic engine revving.

When you are dieting and in a submaintenance level for a prolonged time your metabolism, thyroid production, and leptin levels down regulate and this is usually when weight stalls or there is performace issues during training. The first thing people do on plateaus is reduce calories which actually makes things worse and causes your body to start storing fat to survive and you damage your metabolic rate as well. So when you cheat (calorie spike) it up-regulates your leptin horomone , which controls thyroid, test levels and GH. This basically jacks everything up and your body starts burning fuel more efficiently again.

The thing is you shouldn't do this more than once every 7 days to make sure you need it and it works. This is very general as you really need to know how to read your body's bio-feedback to determine if a calorie spike is needed. Don't cheat just to cheat.


I DO personally find that after a good cheat meal (approx 16-17 ounces of take out Jamaican curried chix, rice & peas, steamed cabbage...my favorite cheat), that I do usually drop a few lbs when I'm on a stall/slow down phase.

How bout you? Do you have cheat meals? Cheat day? Discuss.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:12 PM   #2
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I have consciously decided to go off plan to break a plateau/stall. Oddly, I find that if I take the whole day off and eat whatever I want, I will definitely have a few lb drop on the scale over the next week, whereas if I just had a few bites of off plan food (I'm doing MediFast) the scale would stall for days.

My most recent break was three days over Thanksgiving...longer than I had anticipated and the longest cheat than I've ever done. I gained 6-7 lbs, but have managed to lose 15 pounds in the two weeks that have followed. My first month of dieting I only lost 16, so this has really shocked and dumbfounded me.

The obvious implication of cheating, especially when you experience a woosh after, is that it will develop binge/yo-yo eating habits. It's something I'm very conscious of, so I've spaced my cheat days out...usually one day every 6-8 weeks. I don't want to lose all this weight to end up in a cycle of binge-ing and restricting calories to lose every few days.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:45 PM   #3
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i SURE DO WISH i had known this the 1st time around...part of the reason i gave up after losing 68 pounds was the 4 weeks of losing NOTHING even though i was cutting more and more out of my intake...
this time around...i am so thankful for you sharing this!!!
i will be READY now!!

thanks
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Old 12-12-2010, 02:25 AM   #4
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Nope, never do. I don't have the willpower to eat off plan Just Once. It would be the beginning of the end if I tried it.
Plus, I have really profound objections to the word "cheat" - for me it reinforces an idea that a healthy way of eating is some kind of penance to be broken out of.

However, if it works for someone, then it works! We all do what works.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:28 AM   #5
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I'm following a high protein, lower carb (not exactly low carb) and low fat eating plan, embarrassingly named 'Bodytrim'

The plan recommends eating two free meals once a week (on the same day) They call it the zig zag effect. I don't really know if it works yet, but it really does help me prevent eating off plan. I no longer care if there are yummy mashed potatoes on the stove or some such thing because I know that I can have it in a few days anyway.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:39 AM   #6
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Interesting! My scale had stalled for about one week when I ate 500-600 cals over my plan and the next day I dropped a lb and started losing again. I still think it might have been a fluke. Any more info or studies done on this?
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:46 AM   #7
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I've read a fair bit about the zig-zag thing and tried it myself for a couple of weeks. Really seemed great, but I couldn't (yet) get over the psychological hurdle of "less than average calorie target = good" and "greater than average calorie target = bad" mentality. Would love to give this another try once I've more thoroughly internalized the concept that less isn't always more and yes, sometimes more means less.

With that said, though, I agree that considering it a "cheat meal" would just set off a big failure cascade in my head. Cheating leads to feelings of guilt which leads to Nola saying, "RAWR, must eat heaping platters of Doritos!"
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:25 AM   #8
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Ok so without getting into semantics...let's call it a "FREE MEAL" instead of "CHEAT MEAL"

I think alot of people confuse the "FREE" meal with a license to gorge on cookies, cakes and pies. The FREE meal should include any otherwise forbidden or "off-plan" foods that you may crave like pizza night, mexican, jamaican, chinese, etc. It's only ONE MEAL, which should consist of proteins, carbs and fats....just a bit higher in calories than "on-plan" meals AND you still have to limit your portions.

With that said, and keeping things into the prospective with what the Personal Trainer intended, anyone else try this "cheat meal" once per week/month, etc.? How has it worked for you?

*EDIT - Just for clarification, this is NOT the zig zag diet. That is something totally different. This is just one limited portion cheat MEAL per week.
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Last edited by joyfulloser : 12-12-2010 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:15 AM   #9
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Maybe a better name for the meal might be your "REV meal" since it revs up your metabolism.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterfly7 View Post
Interesting! My scale had stalled for about one week when I ate 500-600 cals over my plan and the next day I dropped a lb and started losing again. I still think it might have been a fluke. Any more info or studies done on this?
Actually...I'm in the process of doing my own "study" on this right now! About 5 weeks ago, I had a "cheat meal" and 2 days after lost 3 lbs! Since then, I haven't went "off-plan" and my weight loss has slowed to a crawl. My exercise has increased in intensity, but the scale has been up/down/up/down...not really making much progress (lost 1 lb in the last 2 weeks!)

So I decided to test this "cheat meal" theory once again. As you do, I wanted more proof that it wasn't just a freak coincidence. Yesterday I had my "cheat meal" and it was delishous (Jamaican curry chix, rice/peas and cabbage..YUM!) Had about 16-17 ounces (which is a pretty hearty portion). My weekly weigh-in is Mondays...so I'll be checking my weigh for the next few days to test this theory.

I shall report my findings here...hoping this works!

SIDE NOTE - I used to have that "all or nothing" attitude about food, but after yo-yo'ing...I realize I MUST learn to be satisfied with just a little...I must be able to plan for it...and if I fall...I MUST be able to just get back up. Afterall....that's life...the unexpected, right?
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:05 PM   #11
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You may want to look into the concept of a "refeed", this is a common strategy used in bodybuilding when they are dieting down to extremely low fat levels. You can read more about the actual process of it, it has to do with a "carb up", rather than a "cheat meal" (although most "cheat meals" are carb-based so they use the term interchangeably).
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joyfulloser View Post
SIDE NOTE - I used to have that "all or nothing" attitude about food, but after yo-yo'ing...I realize I MUST learn to be satisfied with just a little...I must be able to plan for it...and if I fall...I MUST be able to just get back up. Afterall....that's life...the unexpected, right?
Let us know how it works out for you; I'm going to predict a nice "whoosh" of a few pounds for you.

I think what you said here was especially wise--we DO need to learn how to fall and get back up. Really good food for thought there; thank you!
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:21 PM   #13
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Now, this is particularly interesting. I have the same philosophy that you need to jolt your body back into fat burning mode by surprising it, because the body and its system can adapt. The same goes for exercise. If you have a routine that you follow faithfully, you will certainly continue to become well-conditioned, but the effect of weight loss will eventually wear off. This is why you hear about people who exercise and exercise without getting results. So the remedy is similar to the diet alteration, which is to change it up and surpise the body. Work different areas of the body, do different activities every now and then to keep your body on its toes.

I also think that calling it cheating is psychologically detremental. Think of it as just going on and off, like someone mentioned above, zig-zagging. And, while for one individual this may be necessary weekly, for others it may only be necessary every couple of months. I would think that at the point where you see that the results are steadily no longer meeting your expectations and not matching your investment, is when your body needs that jolt, however you measure your progress, whether by scale or dress size.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:24 PM   #14
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O, btw, Atkins also promoted this philosophy to actually go off the diet for a day or two when stuck on a plateau and then resume the diet protocol. So it seems to be an acceptable and common approach.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:30 PM   #15
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joyfulloser, I have the same all or nothing attitude. One social gathering had me going off diet and pigging out, becoming overstuffed with an "Oh well" attitude. I hated that feeling so much of not having control that the next social gathering which was only this past Friday, I didn't eat anything. I hope that as I progress in dropping weight that I will overcome the all or nothing mentality. It's just so hard because for so long now, food...desserts in particular...has been my main friend or enemy, I'm not sure which.
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