You may be wondering (or chastising me) for saying “low carb diet” in the title. You’re probably thinking “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change Jennifer!” I get it! And I agree that this should be a lifestyle change so don’t take the title too seriously, okay?
I think most people looking to start this “diet,” are going to be looking for info about cheat meals. Should we have re-feads? Should we have cheat days or cheat meals? So follow along with my reasoning and please don’t take my advice as written in stone. If you’ve found what works for you, great! Please continue to do just that. This is what I have found through research and my own experiences. So let’s get to it! Should I eat a cheat meal on the low carb diet?
Many diets out there put cheat meals into their plans because they say it may boost your metabolism, keep you from feeling deprived, and increase your chances of sticking to your diet. These all seem logical, but I’m going to have to disagree. I can almost guarantee that pumping my body full of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and hydrogenated oils, has no benefit to my body or state of mind. If you really want to boost your metabolism, go lift some weights and go for a walk. Exercise is much more effective and better for your overall health.
How many times have you had a cheat meal and it turned into a cheat day, cheat week, or completely threw you off track for weeks? I’m going to guess that it happens more than half the time. I’ve personally done this so many times, I’ve lost count! So why do we do it? We’ve been so good on our “diet” so we deserve a cheat meal, dang it! Sound familiar? We need to stop rewarding ourself with food!
Not only do cheat meals have the potential to make you fall back into old habits, but I usually feel super bloated, sick, and miserable after a cheat meal. Then I step on the scale and feel guilty for eating what I ate. What an emotional rollercoaster!
I’ve used this excuse way too many times. If I don’t eat enough calories, or if I eat under my calories for the week, then my body is going into starvation mode! I must eat a cheat meal now! This is going to get tomatoes thrown at me, but you must know the truth. And before you start throwing tomatoes, do some research. Starvation mode is a myth. There have been several studies that prove that our bodies will lose weight as long as our bodies are in a calorie deficit (burning more calories that we consume). You will lose weight even if your calorie consumption is dangerously low (not recommended of course). If you are not losing weight, you are eating too much. It’s that simple. (research The Minnesota Study)
If you were losing weight at a good pace and then the pounds stopped falling off, it’s probably because you weigh less and your body isn’t burning as many calories as it once was. You could have also fallen victim to “calorie creep” where your portions have increased without you realizing it, therefore, consuming more calories. A cheat meal will definitely not solve that problem!
I’m definitely not advocating for a super low calorie diet. Those usually lead to binges. Slow and steady weight loss of 2 pounds a week is more sustainable in the long run.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
If you want to have a cheat meal, try to skip the junk food at all costs. This stuff (fast food, large quantities of sugar, breaded and fried foods, baked goods, soda) are so addictive! That’s the reason why you want it so bad in the first place! By following a low carb diet, you are breaking that addiction. But if you keep eating the foods that you are so addicted to, you will never break your addiction.
So what do we do if we want a treat? Make a low carb version of course! I have a slew of low carb recipes on my Pinterest boards that are easy to make. No, they are not as easy as going through the drive thru, but you will not regret these treats.
If you want to binge, binge on low carb foods! I can guarantee you will eat far less because of the fat content (more satisfying), so that equals less calories consumed! Your body will start to forget about all of those nasty foods you used to eat, your tastes will change, and you will continue to lose weight.
So instead of using a high carb cheat meal, pick one that is still on plan. You will not regret it!
Follow me on Pinterest! I post low carb recipes daily, most of them are super easy to make!