A popular form of dieting is the use of significantly low calorie eating followed by a “cheat day”. The practice has its roots in bodybuilding and fitness contest where the participants diet down to extraordinary low body fat levels.
The thinking here has always been that it gives you something to look forward to and a mental/emotional break each week. The other idea is it helps to keep your metabolism from slowing too much from the significantly low amount of energy input.
There is logic to this however the real issue is it was designed only for contest preparation. That is, to provide a temporary state of leanness on a deadline timeframe. What we have seen and experienced is this approach provides nothing long term. You will gain all of the fat back eventually.
We think the reason for this has a few different facets. First overtime your body simply rejects forced starvation and makes adjustments to force you to fail. Second, when you lose body fat quickly you also lose water and muscle which throws off your natural health equilibrium. This leads to all sorts of side effects like gaining more fat back than you initially had. Finally the act of a cheat day in and of itself feels like relief short term but long term causes post cheat day cravings which grow overtime.
As we always say the answer is – build your lean mass (muscle) and eat a basic balanced diet. Overtime your body fat levels will find their healthy state…yes it’s that simple. Not always easy but simple.
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Be well, be strong,
Andrew and Tierney