How to Avoid a Single Dieting Slip and Weeks of Damage It Causes
You have been doing so well on your diet, noticing changes in your weight and overall health and are feeling totally in control of your eating habits. So it won’t matter if you cheat just this one time with a slice of cake. Right?
While it would be convenient to think this were true, it’s not. In fact, the common misconception that a little cheating here and there is harmless causes far too many people to stop seeing results while dieting and even gain weight back. The discouragement this causes then leads to further slip-ups and ultimately, to abandoning weight loss efforts altogether.
Rather than chastising yourself or feeling discouraged and unempowered, which will only accelerate this downward spiral, the best way to get back on track and prevent falling off again in the future is to take a look at the science behind cheating, gaining an understanding of what happens and why.
As it turns out, that one slice of cake (or that muffin or pasta dish you couldn’t resist) doesn’t just weaken your resolve: it actually reverses a chemical change that you have created in your body through dieting, with an effect that reaches far beyond the day and even the week when you indulged.
Contrary to popular belief, that change has little if anything to do with calorie count. Rather, it’s about your body’s insulin level, which is the real culprit behind weight gain and obesity. Quite simply, insulin causes the body to store fat. Any excess of it in the bloodstream will signal fat cells to store glucose as fat and to take in fatty acids from the bloodstream, storing these as fat too.
The body produces insulin in the first place as a response to an intake of high-glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates. So eliminating this type of carb -- which includes sweets, pasta, bread, root vegetables and certain fruits -- will lower your insulin level. Lower insulin levels lead the body to burn fat, causing weight loss.
When you diet, you inevitably wind up cutting back on or eliminating foods that will trigger a spike in the body’s levels of insulin. Thus your body’s overall insulin level eventually falls and your body then goes into a hyper-intensive “fat burning mode”. But as soon as you put that slice of cake in your mouth (just in your mouth!), here’s what happens:
● The mechanisms causing your body to release insulin will be set into motion to help digest the cake.
● Your body will need to produce more insulin than usual since, thanks to your diet, your overall levels are low.
● A new influx of insulin will flood your system, rising to higher levels than before you cheated.
The end result: your body will revert back to storing rather than burning fat and it will then take up to 3 weeks for your base insulin level to drop back to a place where you can once again burn fat!
That’s why cheating, even a teeny bit, is one of the biggest reasons why people on diet programs fail.
The three pointers below will help combat the urge to cheat in the first place:
Don’t starve yourself.
Eating plenty of delicious green color foods and protein that won't spike your insulin levels allows your body to continue to burn fat while keeping you from freaking out with hunger pangs.
Kill the Sugar Cravings.
Detoxing your body from all sweets for one week will significantly reduce cravings for sugary foods. Remember: it's not forever. Just one week.
Change your thinking.
Try to think: insulin levels, not calories. Once you start visualizing your body as a location of chemical change -- a place where you have worked hard to decrease your overall insulin levels over time, you probably won’t want to give that up for one night of freedom.
You can’t prevent your insulin levels from spiking once you’ve cheated, but you can control risk factors around cheating itself. Rather than focus on the sweets or carbs you didn’t indulge in, visualize the real reward that you have already given yourself: the ability to burn fat and shed extra pounds in a healthy, sustainable way.