No matter how strict you are the chances of you eating based on old habits and likes is more common than you may think. The attrition rate for folks trying to stay on very low carbs for an extended period of time is very high. So why would one want to expose yourself to the risk of cravings and regular cheating?
By diverting foods to a specific day once a week you increase your chances of stringing together good days. One good day is no better or worse than one bad day. It’s stringing good days together that makes the difference
I had never used a diet spike day when my goal was to lose weight. I had read mixed reviews and opinions concerning whether or not they were actually effective for weight loss. More often than not, when I did read a positive take on diet spike days it was based around muscle building and not weight loss.
This gave me even more reason to believe that spiking on your diet was a BAD thing.
My opinion has changed.
Initially starting out on a low carbohydrate diet can be hard work. Also, there are so many different approaches out there that it can be just as hard work to pick one. Finding out where carbs are hidden, learning to read labels and dealing with the dreaded carb flu makes the first couple of weeks really interesting.
There is one universal approach though. The one thing that most diets are based around is creating an energy deficit by reaching satiety and getting the body to use its fat reserves to make up for the deficit. In the past I have lost weight following satiety with great results. I could eat virtually whatever I wanted without counting calories and lose weight. Sounds good, I know.
How spike days are good for fat loss?
The main idea behind satiety is that you are creating a calorie deficit over the course of the week … not each day. Some days you will eat above maintenance, others you will eat well below.
At the end of the week though, you will have eaten under your caloric requirement and used your own body fat to make up the difference if you didn’t pig out on feeding days. So what does this have to do with spiking on your diet every week? The problem here is that the body adapts to living off of fewer calories.
Dieting and following a low calorie plan actually makes your body less efficient at burning fat from week to week. Why?
1. Your levels of Leptin decrease (lessens fat burning);
2. T3 & T4 thyroid hormones decrease (slows metabolism);
3. Ghrelin increases (increases hunger);
4. Cortisol may increase (believed to cause belly fat);
5. Metabolic rate decreases;
6. Calorie spike days fix everything … seriously.
You don’t have to eat “spike foods” if you don’t want to. You can consume extra fat and protein foods however you choose. It is important that you get enough though. For me, I’ll stick to my favourites
Do you have to spike?
The truth is you may not have to. Although your body does continually get worse and worse at burning fat after being on a low carb, you do not HAVE to spike on your diet to lose weight. You can stick with eating low calories and suffering through every week without let up … it is possible and many have done so and continue to do so. Your body will not completely shut down fat burning. It will come off eventually.
My question though, is why would you do so? I get it, trust me. You feel guilty after the day has ended. One or two days afterwards you start to second guess yourself, wondering if you made a HUGE mistake.
Depending upon your body’s response time though, guess what. Two or three days later you weigh less than before your spike day. This is real. This actually happens. Over the course of the last 5 months I’ve seen this to be true every single time.
You do however need to note that you should not weigh for at least three days after a carb refeed as you will in all likely hood be retaining water.
The actions required to ensure your spike days maximum effect
1. Before embarking on a spike day I would advise that you eat your normal breakfast to satiety.
2. Don’t over drink. This is horrible news as well, I agree. Unfortunately all of the good hormonal effects that a spike day brings on … alcohol cancels out. If you are going to over drink … skip the spike day or you WILL gain weight. The general consensus is that “over drinking” (as far as diet spike days go) is more than one drink. Basically, if you can feel it at all, you’ve had too much. When it comes to shedding fat though, you’ve got to decide what you want more. Once you get to maintenance, beer in moderation is fine.
3. Fast directly after your spike day. The BEST day for a fast, or even a low calorie day in general, is directly after a high calorie day. This is not a forced fast. Rather just skip breakfast if you are not hungry. Not only is a 18 hour fast easier after having eaten all of your favourite foods and after having satisfied any cravings … it’s more effective.
4. Don’t go to extremes! For many the thought of a SPIKE DAY means one thing … go all out. That is not the case.
5. Do not bring the spike or carb refeeds home. Go out for that meal.
6. While it is okay, and in fact good, to eat anything you want, don’t STUFF your face. Eat until you are full. Do not eat until you are full and then move onto your next meal because it’s something different and you want to get as much food down as you possibly can