How to cheat on a diet the right way






There are almost as many ways to “diet” as there are days in the year. Pritikin, Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Bernstein’s are just a few of the mainstream diets available and there are literally countless more diet approaches available on the Internet.


The one common denominator amongst ALL diets (the ones that work anyways) is that they all induce a calorie deficit. That is to say all diets cause you to reduce your calories to such a point that you are in a negative calorie balance (burning more calories than you are taking in) and this results in weight loss. This is weight loss 101 and it is also the single most important factor to losing fat from anywhere on your body.


The approach I like to take (for reasons explained in a previous post on breaking a plateau) is to lower your carbohydrate intake as a means of reducing calories. This approach has many benefits for dieters and seems to work well for the majority of people who try it (keep in mind that nothing works for 100 percent of the people, 100 percent of the time).


However, if you were to follow this approach of low calorie/low carb/moderate fat/high protein eating for too long things will start to fall apart. The body is highly adaptive and really likes to stay fat so it has several checks and balances in place that make it very easy for you to gain fat and fairly difficult to lose it. Hormones such as leptin, ghrelin and insulin are part of a feedback loop, constantly communicating with your body on the present state of affairs. Not eating enough? Your body will make some adjustments and slow your metabolism down to preserve precious energy. Eating too much? Your body will increase metabolism while at the same time taking the opportunity to store a little (or a lot) to save for a rainy day.


Yes, sometimes it may seem that your body simply hates you but it doesn’t. It’s just that your body has a predetermined, genetically fixed “set point” when it comes to your body fat and for most people this point is usually not the place where you have minimal fat on those places you care about most.


Your body really couldn’t care less about how good you look in that little black dress and it is always resisting your efforts to lose those last few pounds. As such, how much you eat (not how often or to a lesser degree even what you eat) has a direct impact on appetite, metabolism and hormones that control how much fat you are lugging around. If you eat a low calorie diet for an extended period your body will fight back by increasing appetite, slowing metabolism, increasing fat storing (lipogenic) hormones and decreasing fat burning (lipolytic) hormones.


This is of course, a very bad thing and one of the reasons why very low calorie diets have a high rate of failure.


Unfortunately, eating a high calorie diet for an extended period is not the answer either (sorry). However, having periodic days of increased calories (in particular carbohydrate calories) after a period of low calories/low carbohydrates will temporarily increase metabolism, decrease fat storing hormones and increase fat burning, muscle building hormones.


This is a very simplistic explanation of a complex series of processes occurring inside your body but this paves the way to the point of this article which is this-

You should “cheat” on your diet.


Yes, periodic diet “breaks” or “cheats” can (and should) be a part of your life as they can help to speed up the fat loss process and make life MUCH more enjoyable.


Now, before you run off to Ben & Jerry’s for an all you can eat ice cream orgy there are some rules for you to follow:

1. You must be in a calorie deficit most of the time for this to work (and if you ever want to lose fat). By this I mean out of a 7 day week, at least 5 of those days should be low carb/low calorie days.


2. I don’t recommend an entire free day of eating. You know the old saying “give a person an inch and they take a mile” well, that certainly applies here. Quite often if a person is told they can eat whatever they want for an entire day they will start jamming every food they have ever craved into their mouths starting at 6 am and won’t stop until they go to bed (which will be very late so they can cram in some more junk). This is not only stupid it will also cause problems. I recommend having a cheating “window”. For example, allowing yourself 5 hours of that day to indulge and then stop the madness.


3.    Don’t eat high carbs plus high fat. This is the worst food combination. I prefer you have a high carb cheat over a high fat cheat. If you want to do a high fat cheat then don’t go crazy with the carbs.


4.    Avoid drinking alcohol together with high fat meals. This is a recipe for more fat no matter what. If you want to have a drink have it with carbs and/or protein instead. High fructose corn syrup should also not be consumed in large quantities (if at all).


5.    Don’t have two entire cheat days back to back. Always separate them by 3 days or so. For example, have a cheat meal on Saturday while out at a restaurant with friends and then have a treat again on Wednesday. Two full days in a row of cheating can cause you to spin out of control and set you back on a path of poor eating.


Don’t be surprised if you stand on the scale the day following a “cheat” only to see that you have gained a few pounds. This is normal and it is NOT fat. Your body will retain a bit of water but some of it will also be in your muscles potentially making you look even better! I also recommend that you lift weights the following day after your cheat. Your body will be in an excellent state hormonally for both muscle gain and fat loss so take advantage of it.


Structuring and planning your “cheat” meals is an important aspect of the fat burning process for both psychological and physiological reasons. Now you know how to do it while still achieving your goals and remaining guilt free.


This post was written by

Bruce – who has written posts on Cutting edge muscle building and fat loss secrets.
bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

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bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

2 Responses to “How to cheat on a diet the right way”

  1. Excellent strategy.

  2. jane says:

    its so nice to hear that i can still indulge once in a while without feeling guilty. thanks for the tip about not drinking alcohol with fats…interesting

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