I started the paleo diet in January and have lost roughly 15 lbs. I have since plateaued at 220lbs. I usually blow the diet one day on the weekend? Is this stalling my progress?
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the cheat day mindset is more harmful than than the act of eating something not normally consumed.
Probably! But the degree to which you are slowing down your weight loss depends on the kind of cheat day you have. Try to decrease it to 1 cheat meal a week instead of a whole cheat day, and then try to only have 1 treat 1 day a week (some dark chocolate, not the whole bar) and you will be on your way to lose weight more quickly!
Cheat days can set you off in your progress not only because of the food you eat on that day, but because of the hormonal derangements it causes at the same time (i.e. more hunger, cravings, less energy in the following days).
Try to go strict Paleo for 30 days in a row and you'll soon see that you don't need cheat days anymore!
The main problem with a cheat day is people confusing it with a binge day. To effectively stay on track you will need to do a few things.
Eat a normal Paleo/Primal breakfast (protein, fat).
Blunt insulin release (carbonated water, lime juice, cinnamon cocktail) This should give an average of 2-3 hours of a blunted window.
Before you eat your cheat meal, eat some fat.
Every cheat carb will hold onto 3x water (10 lbs gained easily this way), so use caffiene (coffee, whatever floats your boat).
Exercise on a cheat day.
This comes from N=1, as well as using these steps on friends/family. And the weight loss plateau kicked in around the last 10 lbs to go, which will require higher commitment to not having cheat days.
If you must cheat, cheat with more fruit, honey, or a potato, or something. But I'd suggest to not cheat with wheat/gluten or other grains. It's not just about weight loss, but health too.
I had 1 cheat meal last week (admittedly it was a real doozy) and its taken me an entire week to get back where I was before, not just in terms of weight but digestion etc too. I dont think il be doing that again unless its a special occasion!
What do you define as a "cheat"
...for me a "cheat" is dark chocolate and fruit or "paleo ice cream" (coconut milk, cacao powder, walnuts, and ice).
depending on what your "cheat" is it most definitely could be. If you cheat like me (Paleo approved stuff) then once a week of a fruit or some chocolate probably isnt the one factor that is causing you to stop losing. Is your cheat only one thing or do you cheat all day? Are you eating grains? refined sugars? processed foods?
Its not simply yes or no because there are many factors that can stall weight loss.
Its not a diet! Its a healthy eating lifestyle!
Yes, cheat days will slow you down. You eat more, you burn off less.
Just for me I cheat, life is too short. What I won't do is ruin my health. Gluten Grains and Dairy wreck me. They aren't worth it, not ever. I'm also a little ify on food additives. All of these mess with my head big time.
I do eat yam or mixed root chips fried in some canola or sunflower oil at the movies. I also splurge on some good chocolate with pecans for movie/date night. It's once a week. I still average about 1 pound a week and skipping treats on movie night only puts me up to about 5-6 lbs a month total. It's a difference but it's just not major.
The mind needs rewards to make it through restriction. That said, cheat meals or foods simply whet my appetite and make it harder to stay strict. The longer I go without even tasting things that I don't eat during my strict times, the more I forget them and the easier it gets to do without them.
Anything you eat that increases desire for more in proportion to amount already eaten is not good. Meat satisfies, chocolate bars do not, but only makes you crave more with every mouthful!
So cheat days and meals IMHO make life harder.
Then again sometimes the calorie deficit is too hard to deal with. So have a bigger calorie meal of good paleo foods on one day a week. Make the cheat, or reward, just more amounts of paleo foods you like.
Now, I do not believe in the "eat too few calories and slow your metabolism" mentality. Restriction burns fat. Done correctly (leangains) it preserves muscle. It's about calorie balance week over week. Go too far on cheat or "up" days, and blow your deficit, thereby self-defeating all the effort of restriction you put in all week, making the whole endeavor pretty ridiculous.
So I think an "up feed" is for mental reward, and if you keep it reasonable, you'll preserve your weekly deficit and progress.
Things that make the "up feed" least fat gaining:
-eat that meal once a week, at night, after fasting 24hrs to make total calories lower, and after as much exercise as you can stand that day to increase efficiency and to make the food go towards lean tissue and metabolic demands.
-over eat meat protein. If you're gonna eat carbs too, keep the meat lean and don't add fat. If you're gonna stay VLC, don't go toooooo hog-wild on the fat, as that's the one nutrient which is least likely to be used metabolically or for repair when taken in excess.
There's my .02
George said it - a cheat day is not a binge day. But I'm 100% against cheat days or even cheat meals. They do nothing to clean you up and keep you addicted to the crap.
And as I always say: you don't get to ask the "why am I not losing weight" question unless you've given 100% Paleo (no cheats or exceptions) an honest try.
If cheating means stuff with grains, legumes, and milk proteins, then it is screwing you up. Also, I suppose you could actually eat enough to cancel out the calorie deficit you made during the rest of the week. Don't do that.
But in general, especially if you avoid the big three evils- wheat, soy, and casein- you ought to be okay.