How eating more calories can actually help you lose more weight.
“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.” ― Russell Eric Dobda
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
Last week, I wrote about how I discovered a new world when I realized that my health was much better and I could control my weight much easier by committing to an 800–1000 caloric intake each day.
Of course, this led to a few individuals wanting to point out that they felt this number is very low and not sustainable.
For all of those individuals who cannot help themselves by feeling that it’s their job to point this out to me, I would like to share two things:
- Please reread the disclaimer above. This information is based on what I have learned works best for me. If you disagree with it, that’s okay, and I’m not saying that EVERYONE should do this. For some people, this might work, while it may not for others.
- The 800–1000 number does not take into account my mid-week and weekend cheat meals which would probably increase my average daily intake to something more in the 1200–1500 range.
While I’ll write about my philosophy on my weekend cheat meals down the road, I wanted to take the time in this article to explain why I think a mid-week cheat meal is helpful to one’s fitness goals and how I use it to aid my weight control regimen.
There are three main reasons this works for me.
It helps keep my weight at a moderate level
Eating 800–1000 calories per day is well below what most people consume and will result in you losing weight consistently. Therefore, you need to be careful to not drop too low in your weight to ensure you are maintaining a weight that is healthy for your age, sex, and height.
After decreasing my weight from 170 lbs to 155 lbs in about a two-month period, I realized that dropping too much below that 155 lb number was not healthy for me, as I would begin to become extremely irritable and weak the closer I approached 150 or lower.
Therefore to maintain my body weight and not drop too low below that 155 lb moderate weight number, I either had to increase my daily intake or allow myself a break in the week to consume more calories.
Since I enjoyed the mental clarity and feeling of controlled disciplined that consuming fewer calories afforded me, I decided that giving myself a mid-week break was the way to go.
Therefore, I figured out a schedule that allowed me to continue to eat the same 800–1000 daily caloric intake and then have a cheat meal mid-week (usually Tuesday or Wednesday) that consisted of anywhere from 1000–1200 calories in a single meal.
This increased my daily average by around 200 calories per day and made me feel extremely full when comparing it against the small meals that I resigned myself to on the other days, something that made this ultimately feel like a treat in the middle of the week.
It helps give my metabolism a boost
While eating the mid-week cheat meal will probably cause you to maintain or gain weight immediately following it, one of the interesting things that a lot of people don’t realize is that it actually gives your metabolism a boost to burn calories faster.
When you are consuming such a low amount of food each day, your body will begin to think there is a food shortage and can stop burning fat because it thinks it’s going into starvation mode and has to preserve as much energy as possible to keep you from dying.
This actually one of the main mistakes people can make as it relates to trying to just decrease their calories as a means of losing weight.
Part of this phenomenon is related to your body’s two main hunger hormones — leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is what makes you feel full and lets you know you’ve consumed enough food, while ghrelin is an appetite stimulant that makes you want to eat more. By having a mid-week cheat meal, you are increasing your leptin level, while simultaneously decreasing your ghrelin levels.
This, in turn, tricks your body back into thinking that food is plentiful and will therefore begin to burn calories at the same clip that it was before.
This can even increase your thyroid function and allow you to burn more calories than you were before you actually ate that cheat meal.
By giving yourself a mid-week cheat meal and eating more calories, you are actually ensuring that the body continues to burn at a reliable rate, so you can continue to predict how much weight you can expect to lose if you stay committed to the lower caloric daily intake.
It gives me a quick mental break that helps me make it to the weekend
Lastly, I get it.
Consuming 800–1000 calories per day can be tough and to think that you have to wait an entire seven days before you can eat a meal that you don’t have to stay within certain parameters can be a bit much for some people.
Therefore, the mid-week cheat meal allows for a bit of a break from such a regimented diet and allows you to just enjoy that meal without thinking about how it’s hurting your weight loss goals.
I consume foods that are high in density but low in caloric intake (e.g., sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, salads), so this allows me to only consume a small number of calories per meal (350–500) and feel full upon completion.
However, I will admit that after about two hours, I am VERY hungry again.
This feeling of hunger is my body quickly burning the small number of calories I consumed for a meal and then burning fat afterward, which allows me to count on that daily decrease in my weight of .5 to 1.5 lbs.
Being hungry for 2–3 hours per day is something that seems rather challenging at first, but you can easily get used to it with time.
However, having a mid-week cheat meal in which you eat a tad bit more than usual will satisfy you enough to then be able to focus on getting through the next 3–4 days to make it to the weekend.
Mentally, this break will keep you focused and committed to staying on the long-term course, something that will pay dividends for your health and your waistline in the future.