On paper, it does sound like a reasonable weight loss strategy. No treats are forbidden. You just have to eat them ‘in moderation.’
But what does ‘in moderation’ mean? What size is a ‘moderate’ portion? What frequency is considered ‘moderate’? Each person decides that for herself. And that may be where some of us encounter difficulties.
If you’re still living by an ‘everything in moderation’ nutrition philosophy, here are 4 potential pitfalls and ways you may want to rethink your strategy. These could mean the difference between losing those remaining stubborn pounds or continuing to feel stuck.
1) All The “Everythings” Add Up
Each person’s own definition of what ‘moderation’ is may vary. While for some, moderation might mean a sweet once per week, for others it could mean something a little bit of this and a little bit of that each day.
How many ‘everythings’ do you have? If you’re looking at a Starbucks mocha each morning, a daily afternoon cookie and an evening glass of wine, is that still moderate?
Well, technically in terms of cookies, one per day is moderate. In terms of wine, a glass a night won’t kill you. But when you add the three different types of daily treats together, you may be looking at the culprit of your inability to shed pounds.
Try giving up one or two of your ‘everythings’ for about a month and see if the scale budges.
2) One Daily Habit That Could Be The Smoking Gun
If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau or especially if you’re really struggling to get those last couple of pounds off, it could be that there’s ONE little dietary glitch holding you back.
Jeff Cavaliere, creator of the Athlean-XX for Women program has a story about a training client. While the story is about a guy, it has its implications for us ladies as well! This particular client was increasing his lean muscle mass training according to Jeff’s plan, and ate a very clean diet, but he was still struggling with some extra fat in his abdominal area.
Together they figured out that it was too much peanut butter in his diet (at breakfast, and at both morning and afternoon snacks) that was preventing the client from decreasing his body fat. Once he cut the peanut butter out, the fat melted away.
Each human body responds differently to different foods and inputs. Could there be one thing in your diet that’s preventing you from making progress?
3) Regular ‘Cheats’ Affect Brain Chemistry
There is mounting evidence to show that certain types of foods, particularly sugar and fat, can be addictive. These foods have a powerful effect on brain chemistry that truly mimics drug addiction. So, whereas today one cookie may be enough, tomorrow or next week you’ll want two.
‘Mind over matter’ (another common and misleading diet strategy) doesn’t work in this case. When your brain is in addiction mode, it exercises more control over you than you have over it.
Sugary foods also affect hormones, including insulin and hunger hormones, causing us to want to overeat these foods. As if that wasn’t bad enough, these same hormones can mess with our metabolism and cause weight gain (or prevent weight loss).
Could that one daily sweet treat be keeping you from the results you want to see?
So can we NEVER have a treat? No, that wouldn’t be a viable solution either. The more ‘restricted’ we feel, the more likely we are to feel discouraged, struggle and maybe even give up on our nutrition plan. On the flip side, ‘everything in moderation’ is so vague that some may end up confused and frustrated trying to interpret it and apply it to their lives.
What type of guidelines can we follow to be able to achieve our weight loss goals but not overly restrict ourselves? While ‘in moderation’ probably should not mean ‘every day’ it is ok to have a treat sometimes.
While some folks swear by ‘cheat days’ we prefer the concept of ‘cheat meals.’ Instead of an entire day of ‘cheating’ that could leave you feeling pretty yucky the day after, a ‘cheat meal’ once or twice per week feels like what it should feel like – a treat. Here’s some great advice for making the ‘cheat meal’ work for you.
Our final piece of advice is to focus on enjoying the healthy food you’re eating and the healthy lifestyle you’re creating rather than rewarding good behavior with bad foods. It might be helpful to plan out your cheats as well, so that you can enjoy them without them getting out of hand. Maybe you plan your cheats for a special weekend meal at home, or for the day each week that you go out to eat at a restaurant.
We designed Athlean-XX for Women to be sustainable and enjoyable because we want it to be the LAST diet and fitness plan you’ll ever need! On the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan, you’ll be eating healthy, tasty foods 5 – 6x per day so that you never feel hungry (which also means you’ll be less likely to crave treat foods). You’ll also get your metabolism running high all day in fat burning mode! You can either follow our 12 weeks of set meal plans or make up your own using our guidelines! Join us on Team Athlean to discover your plan for lifelong diet success!
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