“Dear Clean Diet; I’ve cheated on you, and I’m not in any way apologetic”. On Sunday, I was invited to a delicious ‘fashion-themed’ tea at London’s Berkeley Hotel, and I happily accepted, fully aware that it would contain very empty calories… But I have a theory that eating clean all of the time, forever, is actually quite boring, antisocial, and unrealistic – in short, cutting out fun is no way to live life!
My solution? Cheating, once a week. A day where I know there’s an enjoyable treat in store. Something that might well be 500 empty, purposeless calories just waiting to be savoured. It’s NOT a day when I binge mercilessly for 24 hours, but rather an isolated event on a pre-specified day. I know that if I plan it around doing something social (like, for example this tea), there’s less danger of falling off the ‘clean eating’ train for the rest of the week. It’s a psychological indulgence to reward a week of solid discipline, and I consider it really helpful as an accompaniment to any reasonable training regime.
Regular readers of Fitness On Toast will know that my ethos is centred around a sustainable lifestyle choice of eating clean for most of the time, training regularly, and enjoying the occasional treat to balance things out, and punctuate the focus! HOWEVER, it’s not just some crazy ethos plucked out of the air; professional body-builders see value in this practice as well. Their theory is threefold;
1) GLYCOGEN: A cheat day is supposed to encourage the restoration of the body’s diet-starved glycogen levels, which help to transport proteins back to muscles more readily,
2) POWER UP: There is fatigue-reduction and the concept of ‘replenishing the carbohydrate store’ to provide more energy to train harder at the next workout,
3) METABOLISM: and a radical calorie-bomb is thought to shock the metabolism back into life, after the body perceives starvation and has entered a low-energy conservation mode.
There are some downsides to this practice too, and ‘cheat obsession’ is definitely to be avoided, but if your one-treat-a-week complements a balanced regime of healthy eating and regular training, all in sustainable moderation, you can cheat on your diet regularly, guilt free 😉 ! Faya x
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