I bet that title got your attention. People love the idea of some magic bullet diet that allows them to eat dessert or chocolate or ice cream while getting shredded at the same time. We fool ourselves into thinking all sorts of ridiculous things and justifying cheating on diets, such as having a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit because we did 10 minutes of light walking on the treadmill. Most of the time, this is wishful thinking; however, today I’m going to explain how it is entirely possible to have foods you like, and still get into shape.
First, let me establish just how much I love Pop-Tarts. Since I was a teenager, I have eaten them nearly every day as part of a meal or just a snack. Despite small breaks while testing new diets, I would estimate that throughout the last 25 years, that I have eaten a pack of Pop-Tarts 4 days week on average. Many years went by where that number was 7, but I’ll just use four as the average. That means that I have consumed over 10,000 Pop-Tarts in my life, and I’d wager the number is higher. So when I say that I love them and have worked them into nearly every diet, I’m not even slightly joking. The other food I love is pizza, notably Domino’s Pan Pizza. On average I have eaten one Domino’s Pizza a week for at least 20 years. Sometimes more, sometimes, less, but I’d put the average around one. In other words, these are two foods that I find a way to work in, no matter what.
So how is this possible? How have I managed to get lean and cut eating crap like this? I wrote in my book that these are terrible for you, yet I manage to work in cheat meals all the time. First, I’ve expressed my belief that cheat meals work. One, they allow for a potent reward system. Two, they keep your body from adapting, which it does. Three, for me at least, they keep me sane. Understand this: losing fat is purely a game of calories in-calories out. We all have a baseline amount of calories we need to maintain our current weight. Above that number, we gain, and below we lose. That’s an incredible oversimplification but still retains its inherent truth. Thus, if I need 2500 calories to maintain my weight, and I eat 2000 + a Pop-Tart, I’m still in an energy deficit, so I will still lose weight. One of the reasons exercise works is that it burns calories, putting us below the threshold we need to lose fat.
The other way I get away with this is by being very active. I walk the dog every single day, hike a fair amount, lift weights, and do cardio. I mentioned earlier that I change whether or not I eat Pop-Tarts based on the diet, which is true. In any low carb or Keto diet, they are a total non-starter. I am not a fan of those diets, and prefer an intermittent fasting diet with carb cycling, as I detailed in my previous article. I recently cut twenty pounds, and I did it eating one Pop-Tart a day instead of my usual two, and reducing my pizza from one a week to once every two weeks. In addition, I also ate bacon every single day of my diet. So yes, I ate bacon, Pop-Tarts, and pizza while dieting and lost twenty pounds. Let that sink in.
Here’s what I ate while doing an 18-20 hour intermittent fast with two meals (easily adjusted for 16hr / 3 meals):
Breakfast: 6 eggs / 3 Strips of Bacon / Oatmeal (different daily due to carb cycling) / half-tbsp of natural peanut butter.
Dinner: Chicken or Steak / Rice (amount varies due to carb cycling) / Handful of mixed nuts / Broccoli and Carrots / One Pop-Tart
Mostly, the meal stayed the same every day except for the carb sources. On low days, I kept the carbs at less than 50 (I weigh 215 so adjust accordingly) on median days about 120, then on high days about 200. Once in a while, I would go down to zero for a day, and then on some days be well over 200. The theory is that carb cycling in this manner while keeping protein high keeps the body from adapting, and keeps it in a constant state of fat loss. I also used high days as replenishment for big workouts, so if I worked legs or back, for example, I’d have higher carbs that day, then fewer on off days. Look, the reality is, of course it would be better not to eat anything processed or junky and be completely hardcore 24/7. I’ve done that. Make no mistake; I’ve done diets that made me want to kill myself. The reality is though, I love certain foods, and if I can lose weight and get into shape while still eating a damn Pop-Tart, I’m going to do it. The way I view it is that if I can stay clean 90+ percent of the time, that one Pop-Tart isn’t going to make or break me.
Remember that at the end of the day, none of this works without your dedication. I establish machine-like rituals for these meals and workouts and do not deviate, setting myself up for success. For the techniques I use to achieve this, check out my book, Forging the Iron Mind. Do you have a crazy food or method that allows you to cheat drastically? Let me know!
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