Friday, July 13, 2012
Its Not Just Limiting Calorie Intake, But Maintaining the Expenditure: the Significance of the "Cheat Meal"
Eating higher-calorie, "unhealthy food" every tenth meal will help you maintain a positive relationship with food, and keep your healthy choices from becoming an obsession. More importantly, eating a "cheat meal" every tenth meal will help maintain your resting energy expenditure (REE). Your REE is the amount of energy you expend at rest to maintain physiological processes. Your body adapts to a lower-calorie diet by lowering your REE in an effort to balance the energy budget (in addition to diminishing spontaneous physical activity, and breaking down lean tissue). In this recent study in published in JAMA, participants who lost 10-15% of their initial body weight had a decrease in REE by 77-265 Calories per day (with total energy expenditure down 86-606 Calories per day). Periodically (every tenth meal for example) increasing energy intake can help attenuate the associated decrease in REE.
It is easier to continue to lose fat if your body does not increase its efficiency, and diminish its expenditure. Your goal should be to improve your body composition, not just lose weight (the majority of your weight is not fat anyway, but lean muscle mass). So, eat your "cheat meal" approximately every tenth time you eat to keep the energy expenditure side of the equation high. Oh, yeah, strength training and other higher-intensity exercise (ala sled pushing, kettlebell swinging, slideboarding, and sprinting) also raise your resting and total energy expenditure.....but, you are doing that already!
Posted by Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. at 1:29 PM