A high calorie MEAL (not an entire day) can be like a Metabolism Reset Button:  since our body’s fat burning capability starts to slow down around the 3rd low calorie day, (or by the end of a 24 hour fast) I like to think of a cheat meal as simply a “way to reset our metabolism back to peak levels!”

A cheat meal is the one thing besides “the goal of burning fat” that is looked forward to in most calorie restricting diets. The nice thing is that we can do this and actually assist our body in the fat burning process by having these occasional cheat meals.  Over the years I have had a lot of people that were on strict diets, tell me that it seemed that “when they binged out a little, that it seemed to spark their weight loss,” there is a good reason for this and the scale was not being deceptive to them.

Our body works in a really neat way in detecting when we’er not getting as many calories as we need and when we’re getting too many, and when either of these happen for long enough, “different mechanisms kick in.” These mechanisms will either store the extra calories in our fat cells when we’re getting more then we need for our day to day energy needs or for releasing these calories out of storage on days that we’re not getting enough to cover our energy needs.

Our metabolism and energy levels will change however if we go low calorie for too long (our fat burning efficiency can drop as low as 50%) in 7 days! The reason for this is our survival mechanisms start to kick into defensive mode around the 2nd-3rd day of low calorie intake and within 24 hours of complete fasting.

A low intake of calories for too long will result in our metabolism slowing down to conserve fuel because it detects potential starvation. This process also includes burning muscle for energy needs to slow our metabolism down. Muscle burns lots of calories, and this loss of muscle “is why someone has such trouble keeping weight down after a harsh crash diet.” Muscle burns calories and much of our metabolism depends on how much we have and how toned this muscle is!

A high calorie meal can be like a Metabolism Reset Button: since our body’s fat burning capability starts to slow down around the 3rd low calorie day, (or by the end of a 24 hour fast) I like to think of a cheat meal as simply a “way to reset our metabolism back to peak levels!”

The way the cheat meal works is simple: our body delivers energy from food to our vital organs and other body tissue necessary for daily function FIRST and the fat cells LAST. Most times after a cheat meal we can feel the food disappear after an hour or so because of the energy deficit we have created by the low calorie days, and this causes our body to suck up these extra calories. When all the cells of our vital and skeletal tissues throughout the body are once again fully stocked with fuel, “our metabolism gets really fired up” which helps us to burn more fat over the next few days of calorie restriction!

So after a few days of eating really lean, you don’t have to call a binge meal cheating on your diet, but instead it can be called a meal with fat burning purpose!”

“Our metabolism works a lot like gears in a vehicle: if we learn to shift at the proper time our engine will not sputter so badly and the energy emitted will be much more steady and strong”

“Occasional fasting for 18-24 hours lowers insulin levels and triggers the release of calories from our fat cells as a snack to keep us going.”
 Sincerely,
Wade Yoder
ISSA Master Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Valley Athletic Club