VI: When to cheat
Your caloric needs are not going to be stagnant over days, weeks, or years. It is important to allow for brief vacations from your caloric deficit to keep your metabolism higher and preserve your mental stamina. Also, as your body fat levels drop and your 6-pack breaks through, your body may start to resist losing more weight. Once your caloric intake gets quite low, you will want to cycle to a bit higher amount so your metabolism does not drop too low. This is what is known as a cheat day. If you are truly sticking to your diet as described, one cheat day per week can be very useful mentally and physically. It will jump start your metabolism each week. I recommend doing your cheat day on a hard workout day, so you are adding these calories on a day your body actually needs them the most.
This is your chance to indulge, cheat and let your dieting demons out. Take one or two days to relax your diet and up your caloric intake. And do not feel guilty about doing so because this is actually beneficial both mentally and physically. The overeating phase tells your metabolism not to shut down and let’s your willpower and glycogen stores recharge. If you only stay at a caloric deficit your body kicks in what is called the “starvation response.” When your body thinks you are having a hard time finding food to eat, it assumes it needs to conserve energy for survival. As a result your metabolism and resting metabolism crash and your body stops burning fat stores. This is why cheat day is actually important. It keeps your body from triggering the starvation response.
Don’t worry as much about counting or logging calories on this day, but do pay attention to your source of calories on your cheat days. Really up your intake of foods rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. The carbs will have a positive impact on your thyroid hormone that is largely responsible for regulating your metabolic rate. Keeping your fat intake down will make sure your caloric intake stays at a reasonable level while you up your carb intake to replenish glycogen store and thyroid hormone levels.
How often should you take a cheat day or weekend? This depends on how lean you are and the intensity of your diet. As you put your body more on edge, nearing 10% body fat for males or 15% for females and/or finding yourself at a very low caloric intake, you will need to take cheat days about once a week. Until you reach this level of leanness, once every few weeks should do the trick. You may choose to plan your overeating phase around holidays. Knowing you can relax your diet and enjoy some extra carbs will help alleviate the stress of trying to stick to a rigid diet at social events.
VII. Example Day Menu:
• Breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal with honey, egg whites and a side of fruit. You can get creative with your oatmeal toppings, depending on your caloric needs. Fresh or frozen berries and sliced almonds are popular additions.
• Lunch: leafy green salad made with power greens like kale or spinach. Topped with grilled free-range organic chicken breast, avocado, walnuts and sunflower seeds and tossed in a light dressing. You can add any fresh, organic fruits and vegetables you like to this nutrient packed meal.
• Snacks: fruit with cottage cheese or yogurt and raw organic nuts or trail mixes are perfect light and satisfying snacks.
• Dinner: quinoa with turkey sausage and plenty of vegetables sautéed in olive oil. You can also sub in wild Alaskan salmon to enjoy lean meat packed with Omega-3 fatty acids.
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VIII. Supplements (With all supplements it’s crucial you see your doctor first to make sure they are safe for you)
Supplements are your insurance policy, a way to help fill in any holes that your diet may leave. Ideally you will fulfill your micronutrient needs through the foods you consume. But as you decrease your caloric intake, it becomes easier to fall short. Routine blood tests can help you identify any deficiencies and treat them effectively. But the following supplements you may choose to take as a preventative measure.
1. Multivitamin: these provide many of the vitamins and minerals that your diet may lack or that the stresses of training and life may cause you to require in greater amounts. Vitamin D and Calcium are two of the vitamins that are thought to help facilitate weight loss. There are many reasonably priced options available at your local grocery or nutrition store, so these are a convenient insurance policy.
2. Fish oil: essential fatty acids and healthy oils are reported to benefit overall health and longevity. They are also credited with a role in muscle growth and fat loss, the keys to 6-pack abs. Do not be surprised if your cardio training also benefits. I suggest spending a bit more on this supplement, opting for a highly purified Omega-3 fatty acid.
3. Green tea: ever wondered why so many people on diets rave about green tea? It contains the antioxidants known as polyphenols that may boost your resting metabolic rate by as much as 17%.
4. Electrolytes: whether consumed in pill or mix form, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, allow your body to perform at its best. Steer clear of drinks that pack in artificial ingredients, opting for more quality products. Stay away from gatorade and Powerade type sports drinks. They are packed with sugar and carbs.
5. Fat burner: there are lots of products formulated to help your body burn fat. Make sure you do your due-diligence to learn what is a gimmick and what offers real advantages to your diet. See your doctor before trying these and make sure they are safe for you. (Here is the exact one we suggest). Do your homework on this, but the science is strong and our personal results have been through the roof.
6. Pre-workout Boost: an effective mix or pill will allow you to train longer and harder with less fatigue. Read through the full ingredients list, and select products free of artificial ingredients or ones that may cause harm to your overall health.
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