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Scheduling a cheat meal to stay on track!

When it comes to losing weight, nutrition is key, and for many, the most challenging part of weightloss. While waking up at 5:30 to workout is a challenge, controlling what goes into your mouth for 24 hours is even more so, especially when faced with junk food all around us, from TV commercials, to the break room at work, or kids' snacks at home!
I have a huge sweet tooth and I love carbs (and butter!) but knowing I have a cheat meal coming my way, helps me stay focused. When following these rules a cheat meal can not only be good for the taste buds and mentality, it can be a great tool to help carve your physique. Cheat meals can increase metabolism, replenish glycogen (responsible for energy), reset hormones and insulin regulation. But before you go and order that piece of cheesecake, or everything off the dollar menu - I want you to read my 5 Tips on the Art of having a Cheat Meal.

  • Understand the Science behind it...

    • Erin Traill, diamond beachbody coach, cheat meal, avoid weight loss plateaus, science of a cheat meal, 21 day fix, Autumn Calabrese, meal plan, long term weight loss, dramatic weight loss, fit mom, fit nurse, Pittsburgh,
    • Cutting calories comes at a cost - Weeks of calorie deficits and lower carbohydrates
      causes changes within your body, and by understanding them you can better understand why and what kind of cheat meal is beneficial... so sorry I am about to get nerdy on you ((eekk, my favorite part))
      • Leptin, a protein mainly produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance in the body. It works and sends signals to the brain 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. 
      • Sorry 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, mood and increase your cravings.
  • Now, use this Science to your ADVANTAGE!

  • Erin Traill, diamond beachbody coach, cheat meal, avoid weight loss plateaus, science of a cheat meal, 21 day fix, Autumn Calabrese, meal plan, long term weight loss, dramatic weight loss, fit mom, fit nurse, Pittsburgh,
    • Okay so after 72 hours of a calorie-restricted diet we see changes in leptin and ghrelin levels, right? Therefore, weekly cheat meals that are higher in calories and carbs can help raise leptin levels while lowering ghrelin levels. This helps to return your hormone levels to normal and can reverse or prevent any slowing down of your metabolism. This in return improves your thyroid function, thus further boosting your metabolism. Since we don't see a repeat change in leptin and ghrelin for 72 hours, your metabolism increases will last for days past your cheat meal. And Tah-Duh the scheduled cheat meal can actually help optimize our body's hormones to avoid these plateaus and prevent entering that starvation mode.
  • Erin Traill, diamond beachbody coach, cheat meal, avoid weight loss plateaus, science of a cheat meal, 21 day fix, Autumn Calabrese, meal plan, long term weight loss, dramatic weight loss, fit mom, fit nurse, Pittsburgh,
    But it can't just be any cheat meal ((sorry))....

    • A tub of cheese fries and a large blizzard aren't the kind of cheat meals I am talking about, sorry! This shouldn't be a moment that you eat the whole pantry, I am recommending that you avoid nutrient poor foods (sugary messes) that can actually derail your whole week of progress and will not be helpful in the science of your cheat meal.
    • So when I talk about cheat meal I am talking about a meal higher in calories and carbs than your regular meal. My favorite cheat meal is a bacon cheeseburger actually! High in calories, carbs and protein! Pizza (not the whole pizza, like 2 slices haha) is another one! These meals leave me full and satisfied (when I remember to keep my portions in check, otherwise I am sure you are aware of the pain of overeating!). And every now and then throw in a small sweet treat, small, like share a dessert!
  • I will say this time and time again - SCHEDULE IT!

  • Erin Traill, diamond beachbody coach, cheat meal, avoid weight loss plateaus, science of a cheat meal, 21 day fix, Autumn Calabrese, meal plan, long term weight loss, dramatic weight loss, fit mom, fit nurse, Pittsburgh,
  • Also, don't make the mistake of eating less on the meals before the cheat, it defeats the purpose of adding calories! Plus, that plan will most likely backfire.. you will get overly hungry and overindulge.

    • Put it on your meal plan, and this is a cheat meal - not day - not week... And remember, this is a meal replacement not addition!
    • The best way to cheat is to plan ahead! Remember that, while cheat meals are meal replacements, they need to fit into your current eating regimen. Cheat meals allow you to satisfy cravings and give you a chance to loosen the reigns a bit, but they shouldn't turn into cheat days. They also shouldn't be a reason to eat less than you normally would at other meals.
    • You don't want your cheat meal to be a Big Mac that you scarf down while racing home from work, that isn't enjoyable.. make it a fun, social thing! Go out, get dressed up (you tend to watch your portions more in jeans than you do in yoga pants - trust me, I know!)
  • Gotta find what WORKS...

    • Sadly for some a cheat meal can lead them to spiral out of control... So this might take a little trial and error... You need to figure out what cheat foods help kick cravings, boost your metabolism and energy and do not lead to further cravings... Did you ever have a meal and think, "yeah that was great and I'm good for awhile?" or have a meal and think, "okay now I want - this and that and this?"
    • For me, I am happy anytime I am getting away from the same chicken and broccoli. A cheat can be steak or pizza or a cheeseburger. But if I have pasta and Italian bread with butter I crave it for days, which stinks! So I basically avoid it.
Discover what works well for you, make conscious decisions, schedule it and let me know how it goes! For more tips, support, recipes and meal planning - please apply here to be in my next fitness and wellness challenge group where we will work more 1:1 together!

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