Think you have to cut out high-carb meals and the foods you love in order to get the body you want? Well, if you’re nodding your head right now I’m here to tell you you’d be wrong. Very wrong.
Before you spend one more day unnecessarily depriving yourself of those little treats, it’s time to expose one of the the greatest untruths in the dieting world.
It doesn’t work for long term results
We are constantly being informed by popular nutrition books, fitness gurus and product companies that in order to lose weight it’s an absolute necessity to cut carbs and calories.
OK, short term this sort of nutrition plan can definitely provide some good results, but what we’re not told is: in the long term this constant restriction of necessary fuel will actually shut down the metabolism and squash the hormones responsible for burning fat and building muscle.
So before you waste any more of your hard-earned cash buying into all those specious crash diets that actually drive an even bigger wedge between you and your dream body, I want to teach you how balanced nutrition and a little hormone called leptin can help you change your body forever.
Don’t restrict the Leptin hormone
Leptin is one of the most important and yet widely unknown hormones we have. It is a huge play-maker in regards to hunger, food intake and metabolism. The chemical is released by our fat cells to regulate food cravings. When it’s released into the body, it tells the brain to either stop eating or that we have enough ‘stored energy’ in our fat cells, and so we don’t need to eat.
In other words, if you’ve been having a hard time getting results, even though you’re dieting and exercising your body to extremes, that may be because in the long-term dieting and cutting calories can compromise leptin levels, thus causing a decrease in the production of the thyroid growth hormone triiodothyronine (T3) and testosterone.
When this happens, your body hits a wall and essentially stops burning fat and building lean muscle.
The good news
While long-term dieting may block results because of falling leptin levels, studies have shown that short-term cheating kicks that leptin right back into gear, thus causing a massive spike in testosterone and growth hormone and in turn helping transform your body back into a fat-burning, lean muscle-building machine.
Another way in which enjoying regular cheat meals can be of benefit is that intensive dieting and exercise can cause the stress and belly-fat hormone cortisol to believe that the body is under attack and therefore needs to store fat to conserve energy. When this happens, despite your best efforts, you can’t lose weight and in many cases may actually gain weight around your stomach.
Now that we’ve discussed why you should cheat, let’s now talk about ‘how’ to cheat. I wouldn’t want you thinking I given you the green light to go on all-day eating binges, so here are a few guidelines you should follow:
- Leptin is most responsive to carbs so the majority of your ‘cheat’ calories should come from carbohydrates.
- Cheating should happen once weekly.
- Don’t use cheating as a green-light to go to the Taco Bell drive-thru. Your cheat should stay within the parameters of the program. Remember, results come from clean eating, even when cheating.
- Calculate your calories so you know how much to eat. It should be somewhere between 20–25% higher than your daily totals and around 400–700 calories.
- Try to get your cheat in before 3pm. This will help your body metabolize the carbs instead of store them.
Find nutritional advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.