So you have decided that you want to start a diet. What’s the best way to go about doing this? What foods are good for you to eat during this time? Here are some low carb basics to get you on the right track.
The leaner the meat, the better it is for you. Protein is a vital part of any diet. Meats like steak (usually sirloin), chicken breast, lamb, turkey, bison, venison, veal and pork. Grilling these meats is also much better than frying them. Fish is another great low carb food; salmon, trout, shrimp, lobster, tuna (canned too!), cod, catfish and halibut. You can grill a lot of this seafood, but if you prefer to fry some of it, like the catfish, you can use coconut oil, olive oil or butter. These 3 things are real, unprocessed items that are healthier to cook with.
Eggs are a great source of protein as well and one of the healthiest snacks to have around. Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pecans; these are all great things for a low carb diet.
Let’s not forget the leafy greens for diets; ice berg lettuce (all lettuce), collard greens, mustard greens, kale, herbs (cilantro) and spinach. Asparagus is great as well; raw, steamed or grilled. There are a lot of different choices, with different flavors, for everyone to find something that works great for them. Just because you are on a diet, doesn’t mean food has to taste like cardboard. Those days are long gone.
Fruits are another great food for diets, however, there are certain ones you probably shouldn’t eat too much of. Some are a little high in sugar content like green grapes, mangos, figs, cherries, watermelon and bananas. You can eat these but not too much of them at once.
Cheat Day Basics
What is a cheat day? A cheat day is the day you can have whatever you want to eat, without feeling the guilt. However, I wouldn’t recommend the entire day for cheat eating. Pick one or two things that you would like to eat on this day. Measure it out and make it enough to satisfy your craving.
Is it Ok to Have a Cheat Day?
If you really start to crave something that is not in the diet plan, on this day, you can eat it! There is no substitute for this wonderful taste; not that you would want to look for one. Can you cheat, just this once, on your diet? Will you gain all that weight back that you’ve worked so hard to lose? What if I told you that one cheat day a week is actually a good thing for you to do! It really is. It’s been proven that if you allow yourself a cheat day, once a week, you are more likely to stay on track with your diet.
Research has shown that after you have a cheat meal, your body will increase its metabolism, which causes you to be able to burn calories faster. This is caused by increased levels of leptin, which is a hormone taken by fat cells and is responsible for energy balance in the body. Having a cheat day gets rid of the cravings you get during the dieting days, eliminates the self-doubt that goes with the “cheating” and all those feelings of failure. In this case, there could be benefits to “bad” behavior by allowing yourself one day a week, (any day of the week) to have that slice of pie rather than the fruit.
Benefits of a Cheat Day
The pro’s to having a cheat day is obviously getting rid of the cravings you have, eating whatever you like for that one day and feeling no guilt. Be mindful of just how much you consume though. Remember, your system is re-setting, so the foods you once ate will taste rich. Sometimes they will cause an upset stomach, so be careful with how much your allow yourself to eat.
Disadvantages of a Cheat Day
The cons? One, you have to remember your body is getting use to the new way of eating and some of these foods you crave can really throw you in to a spin.
I wouldn’t go too crazy, especially on the first one you indulge in. Perhaps, something for breakfast that you normally can’t have and then a dessert after dinner.
If the person has a hard time controlling themselves around sweets, then a lot of caution (and moderation) should be used on the cheat days. You must be able to control the desire to eat the whole cake at once. You don’t have to consider your cheat days as “falling off the wagon”.
This can be a great day, even for the stricter person on the diet. It’s ok. Give yourself permission to enjoy a little treat here and there, just not too much all at once.
By no means should this turn in to a cheat week. This is for a once a week craving controlled day.
Sometimes, once every couple of weeks works too. The person dieting begins to not crave all the same foods they use to eat, and that is even better.
Cheat Day Gray Areas
The cheat days are different for everyone. Not everyone re-acts the same; some people are ok and others take it a bit too far. Be thoughtful of what you are eating, how much you eat and how many times you eat it. Sometimes it’s only needed once to cure the craving. Impulse eating if you are out is very difficult to maintain, especially if no one you are around is aware you are on a diet.
Most restaurants have a diet friendly menu now, so it’s easier to maintain your diet if eating out.
Family gatherings, birthday parties and the like are especially hard because of the sweets offered at these festivities. If you haven’t had your cheat day, or you have scheduled it for later in the week, you can switch it up. You can also turn down what is offered. No one needs an explanation and you don’t owe anyone one. You will have to take care with what you decide to eat and remember; this is now your cheat day. So the one you had planned is now null and void.
Do’s and Don’ts
Ok, now that we have covered a vast majority of the cheat meals/days for your diet, what are some general do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind: If you are strict dieting, cheat meals can aid weight loss by temporarily boosting leptin. However, if you have been relaxed with your meal planning and not really following the protocol, the leptin argument dead. So a person dieting has to be nice before they can afford to be a little naughty on the dieting. Following your plan as its set out for you if vital, especially if you want to have those little cheat meals/snacks you are craving.
- Don’t cheat when you are hungry
- Be moderate when having a cheat day – don’t eat too much of something
- Find a “calorie buffer” in the foods you are eating to help off-set the not so good stuff
- Do a little exercise before you eat
- Don’t go to buffet, order from the menu (less likely to completely destroy your diet)
- Don’t pig out on the food – ask for appetizer-sized portions if possible
- Eat only until you are full – don’t force yourself to finish the plate; you can always take left-overs home
- Drink water before you eat – this helps to “fill” you up before indulging in your meal
- Take your time eating, this isn’t a race
Here are some things you can do to make it easier when going to a restaurant:
- Know the menu and plan ahead of what you are going to eat
- Set your meal times for the same day, every day – this keeps your body on course with your diet
- Monitor the low carbs and high fat of what you are eating
- Eat as many fresh foods as you can
- Be mindful of the fats you are eating when out
Cheat Day on Keto Diet?
If you happen to be on keto diet, cheat days are probably not your best friend and should try to be avoided if possible. Eating too many carbs when on this diet will throw your body out of ketosis. If this happens, it could take a week or so to get your body back to where you were. Keto diets do have different varieties of food that will satisfy a craving. They offer sweets as well. So, if you do have sweet tooth, look at the grocery store for more keto friendly snacks that won’t hurt your diet and all the work you have already put in.
Many of the restaurants do offer keto friendly foods, and these are different than the “lite” menu. There are also desserts you can make at home, if you choose to. Here are a few ideas for the keto dieter: Keto chocolate chip chocolate bombs, keto chocolate chip cookies, Keto chocolate cake with whipped cream icing, and also there is a cheesecake for all the fans out there. For these types of desserts you might make at home, keto often uses almond flour instead of regular flour. This has less carbs than regular flour. People have also used coconut flour. The price difference for these can be a bit expensive, however, in the long run; it is much better for you and is “guilt” free for those that like to bake.
Being on a diet doesn’t mean you can have actual food, it just means you are watching more closely what you are eating, and how much you are eating and content of what is in the food.
Diets have come a long way and have several different options people can choose from. Not everyone is the same and not everyone will show the same results on the diet they choose. There are those that only eat 3 times a day, and kudos to them. There are those of us, like myself that would find that hard to do. Eating smaller meals 6 times a day has also helped a lot of people lose weight, but again, it all depends on what you eat and how much you consume.
No diet is perfect, but there are diets perfect for everyone out there. If you choose to do the keto diet, you may want to read up on it and see if it’s for you. It may not be, and that’s ok. There are plenty more to choose from. Just be sure you pay attention to what you eat, follow your plan accordingly and allow yourself a break every now and then. Once you get in to the swing of things with your diet, you will realize how much better your actually feel. Your energy level goes up, you lose the cravings you once had and you will be a lot happier, all in all.
To everyone out there trying their best, I salute you and wish you all well. You can do it!