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Rules for the Cheat Meal

RSNBiker's picture

Seriously? Isn't the point of the cheat meal that there are no rules? It's the payoff after many hard days of eating clean, right? In the second visit with my nutrition coach, I learned that the wrong cheat meal can throw off your diet for a few days, beginning the downward spiral in the dieter's trifecta -- self doubt, self loathing and depression. The good news is that you have a lot of latitude with cheat meals, and your body and your scale will guide you. The cheat meal has two purposes -- to replenish glycogen stores and to trick your metabolism. And, the harder you train in the days before your cheat meal, the more latitute you have in food choices. At least this is the way I understand it. If you are really carb depleting, the right cheat meal will register a loss of one or two pounds on the scale next morning. A good cheat meal won't move the scale at all the next morning.

My first cheat meal -- after 8 days on the diet -- was a real blowout. I went to a friend's party, with my own food packed. I arrived early to help with food prep. By the time the party was over, I had eaten a small piece of strawberry cake (OK 2 small pieces), a few fried wontons, some pizza dip and several crackers with pimento cheese. After the guests left, I made a final round around the table before going home. The next morning I was scared of the scale, but I weighed in in hopes of learning something. I was surprised that I had only gained 0.2 pound.

This last Friday was my second cheat meal. When I weighed in at the nutritionist's office, I had lost 7.2 pounds in 2 weeks, and I had skipped my afternoon meal before weighing in. When I finally got to eat, after a 6-hour fast, I had a regular Coke and a cinnamon scone. Yum!! I ate this while I waited for my to-go order of gnocchi with a pink cream sauce. I ate this in the car on the way back to Greensboro along with a very tasty piece of Italian bread. The morning after this cheat meal I had gained a whole pound.

What I deduce from this thus far is that eating every 2.5 to 3 hours is important to keep my metabolism high enough to manage the occasaional cheat meal.

I'd love to hear your experience with cheat meals. Hope everyone had a good week.

 

Comments

roadskater's picture

Gnocci Dokey, Indian Buffet, Weekly Pizza Skate

I don't know so much about non-cheating meals, as I don't seem to be very good at sticking to a food regimine. My diets consist of either eliminating certain foods and trying to catch myself if I fill in the gaps with something else. Like when I eliminate sugar drinks, I have to watch for eating more sugar candy. Lately I am just trying to this:

  • No cheese (except for the once a week post-skate pizza at Elizabeth's on Lawndale or Mellow Mushroom on Elm);
  • No deep fried (except maybe one bite of any fried item that was included free, as in a bite of a free egg roll, or a single chip pre-dinner at a Mexican place before eating the salsa with a fork).

But really it comes down to carbs are pretty much free to me an hour before till the end of exercise. Other than that I am trying to catch protein with less fat when I can. But I'm more concerned with exercising more often (even in 30 minute easy bouts of skating at lunch) than with changing food drastically. 

One thing I am doing only sometimes is trying to eat smaller amounts more often.

But honestly, I celebreate the indian buffet as an absolutely wonderful part of a great week, so I just need to skate before or after that, if not both, ha. 

Another weakness in my approach of course is that Chinese food has plenty of oil in it even if not deep fried. 

Also, when it comes to sugar, the only thing I am trying to do there is fewer sweet drinks, and when I eat candy, I try to eat slow-to-eat items like JawBusters and Atomic Fireballs, as noted elsewhere. 

eebee's picture

Sodium, Glycogen and Weight Fluctuations

I'm glad you and your nutritionist's plan are doing so well!

Some unprofessional thoughts of mine, based on experience and inhabiting this lump of flesh:

I wouldn't worry too much about even a three pound weight gain after restaurant food of any kind or sudden starchy-carb ingesting, much less a 0.2 lb or 1 lb weight gain. 

You won't be gaining fat back overnight! The extra weight and heaviness can be a real drag, but the good news is, if you put it on that fast, you will probably be rid of it again within hours. 

It helps me not to succumb to the trifecta of self doubt, self loathing and depression, (check, check and check!) to bear these things in mind before, during and after stepping on the scales:

  • For every gram of glycogen, our bodies hold 3 grams of water. During the Summer and Fall I'd just rather not be without those!
  • Restaurant food can pack three times the amount of sodium recommended for the daily allowance. For those whose bodies can't process sodium that well for whatever reason, this will result in immediate water weight and bloating. 
  • Metabolism-related fat gains would take far longer than overnight to show up on the scales. I don't think going 6 hours once a week without food would screw up your metabolism long enough to cause you any fat gain. 

Bathroom-scale technology is not yet up to displaying trustworthy breakdowns of body composition, IMO. So I have to remind myself of these things weekly.

You threw me off a bit when you mentioned training and carb-depletion! For me, training + carb-depletion = Dizzy Miss Lizzie.

 

Great job on the -7 lb!

eebee's picture

Today's Cheat Meal

A box of Walkers Shortbreads

A cherry pie

Ice cream

 

I think this is my body's way of telling me it will never, ever part with this fat I'm trying to shed.

roadskater's picture

Cheating Other Than Mealtimes

Ever since we found the Market Pantry Nutrition Bars (Zone Bar types) I have been eating them like junk food I fear. Now some of the time that's OK, like when I have arrived at work without having eaten anything. So I've been able to divert away from some even worse choices. Unfortunately, I know where things are when I know where they are, so I know where to get these bars (out of the refrigerator) even when I should probably suffer some hunger pangs especially late. Chocolate mint is OK, but the Double Dark Chocolate is better I think...as I recall it has fewer calories but still has 12g of protein. 

My real cheat so far this week was the usual 1/2 of a medium garlic and onion pizza after the Tuesday Night Skate. By the way...Walt upped his lap record from 1 to 4 this week, and wore a Roadskater.net jersey for the first time doing it. And Erik arrived out of nowhere (well Asheboro) and did 2 or 3 laps. And I heard from Bryan and hope to skate with him some. 

eebee's picture

Good to hear

That's great about Walt's new distance record at the park, and that you got to see Erik again! 

Yeah those faux-Zones are just as good as the real thing, and can offset a hunger-induced feeding frenzy if you have one handy.

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