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Old 08-10-2014, 04:30 PM   #1
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Opinions on Reward Meals/Days please

There is so much info out there on Carb cycling and reward days/meals.. Then, there's the Keto-adapted lifestyle that says we should stay in ketosis, and not venture out.

I recently read a book that says that once we are keto adapted we should do a 24 hour fast once a week and skip breakfast most days. The fast day should be after a "reward" day to replenish the glycogen stores... thereby keeping the metabolism burning hot..

I'm looking for opinions from those who have tried these things.. Is the cycling concept just a gimmick to sell more books, or does it have merit?

I don't believe in eating every few hours (as per some of the cycling gurus) to keep the metabolism stoked. I never want to eat if I am not hungry..

Opinions greatly appreciated as I start yet again on a LC journey.

Thanks!
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:12 PM   #2
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I think it's way too individual to say "yes" or "no" definitively.
A major potential problem is: a reward "meal" can, for some, lead to a cheat day, week or month.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:38 PM   #3
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The rational behind a carb heavy meal just doesn't make sense to me. I've read that the idea is to reset the metabolism so that the body doesn't start to slow down. I know that many people try this trick to deal with stalls with very mixed results.

As for glycogen stores, why do we need them? If we're burning fat as fuel, they aren't important. Besides, the body will burn through the glycogen before going back to fat. Shouldn't that stall weight loss? I know people on keto who are athletes or do heavy lifting to add carbs but it's very controlled. For someone who isn't doing serious exercise, there doesn't seem like much of a benefit.

The next problem (from what I've read) is that once your body is keto adapted, a single carb heavy meal probably won't have enough of an impact to have a real effect on the metabolism. Your body will process the carbs but your keto adaption probably isn't ruined. You'd probably have to go pretty crazy with the carbs to do that and I'd say the health negatives outweigh any potential benefits from a 'reset', particularly if you have past binging issues. YMMV with carb tolerances but if you're super carb sensitive you probably shouldn't anyway.

I'm also not convinced that the body even *needs* a reset. I would think forcing the body to rapidly change from fat to carbs and fat again would be stressful. That leads to cortisol production, which has a negative effect on weight loss etc. Besides, I'm not sure the potential water weight and carb flu would be worth it. Lots of people have cheat meals/days and most don't really see much of a benefit in terms of weight loss.

As for reward meals... personally I don't want to go down that path. Rewarding myself with food was a part of why I got as fat as I am. This might not be an issue for some but it's something I actively want to quash.

Planned cheats can take you down the slippery slope but I think it depends on what you're eating, how much you're eating and whether you can stop immediately after the planned cheat. That said, I wouldn't do a planned cheat more than once every few months and it would have to be a single meal. I just don't want to deal with the cravings and other issues. Still, each person responds differently.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:45 PM   #4
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I will disregard the science because for me, it doesn't really matter.

I have done it both ways. Times when freedom to enjoy a weekly high carb meal or indulge in a dish meant better adherence to my woe long term. I've carb cycled . I've been in long term ketosis. There are times I know I lost better with higher carbs (not high carbs) and times when I dropped them because it felt right.

For me, none of it specifically mattered in terms of weight loss nor gain providing I ate mostly low carb as the mainstay of my diet and didn't overeat. In terms of weight maintenance--- overall low carb eating plan with off days for pleasure and just enough exercise to keep me honest seemed the best strategy!
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:20 PM   #5
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I am not one who thinks that you must stay in ketosis every day, day in and day out, for years to be healthy. But, I also didn't plan off plan meals during weight loss. And, i don't think that off plan meals do anything for the metabolism. I don't put much stock in the nutritional ketosis books out there now, it seems like the latest fad to me that is written for athletes and young men (calories don't matter/800 calorie coffees etc). I also don't want to live in fear of going out of ketosis.

I go off my usual diet now in maintenance and it works well for me. I am not one that believes that all grains are evil so I sometimes enjoy a sandwich made from real rye or pumpernickel or real old school brick oven pizza and then go right back to my usual diet with no problem. But, that's more about having my favorite foods in moderation.

I think the number one issue is whether you can go right back on plan. One meal or even one day off plan are not the problem, it's when you stretch it out to weeks and months that is problematic.

Last edited by nolcjunk; 08-10-2014 at 08:25 PM..
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:13 AM   #6
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I appreciate the input! I think my confusion about what to do is just another way for my subconscious mind to stop me from just doing it!

I am just going to start doing it -- getting the carbs out -- and experiment on myself as time goes on..

Thanks again!
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:27 AM   #7
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May work for some people, but most likely not most people on this forum who are wanting to drop a significant amount of weight. Sounds a bit like wishful thinking to me. I concur with Dottie, that rewarding ourselves with food is not a good idea for most of us. I don't think there is any conclusion that will hold for all of us, but I try to look for general trends. Ultimately, you will need to use your own judgment and give it a whirl if you conclude that it will work for you.

p.s. I think doing two weeks of induction or near-induction is a good place to restart. There seems to be more consensus about the effectiveness of reducing carbs.

Last edited by Patience; 08-11-2014 at 08:31 AM..
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:11 AM   #8
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My issue with this isn't the food or eating but the terminology (which I realize comes from established plans). To me, the term 'reward meal' suggests that my other meals are penalties for which I need a reprieve--thus a 'reward.' For me, that would lead to a sense of restriction and deprivation--for which I'd need more and more 'rewards.'

Over the past 4 years that I've been maintaining, I realize that the reason I was successful losing this time and subsequently managing my weight is that I totally adopted my WOE as the norm. It helps that I'm very carb sensitive, so I know that this is the best WOE for my health as well as for managing my weight. So I never saw any need for a 'reward.' My reward is weight loss and good health. And that helped me look at food differently.

I was raised (as many were) with food 'rewards'--the birthday cake, the Thanksgiving feast, the special ethnic foods for holidays--but now I see food as always special. I try to buy the best quality food that fits with my WOE, and I've learned to enjoy that food each and every day.

On my birthday, I may go out to dinner and have a glass of wine with my low-carb meal (this year it was an angus beef salad with avocado, with a shrimp cocktail appetizer). I don't touch the bread tray, nor do I have dessert. Those are things that don't fit with my preferred WOE, one that has kept me Rx free at age 73 (my thyroid hormone Rx are not considered 'meds').

IMO a lot of weight loss is due to our mental state, and if we're seeing restrictions and hardship in our eating and looking forward to reward meals, we're setting ourselves up for disaster. At least, that's how I view all this.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:38 PM   #9
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For my first year of LC, I did a planned cheat day about once a month. It was purely psychological, nothing to do with metabolic resetting or anything. It was a tool that kept me from breaking in will or spirit during the hardest days of adjustment. I didn't need to eat the (insert random carby food here) because I was never more than 30 days away from a day when I could have anything I wanted. I planned the heck out of those days and enjoyed them. And after a while, I didn't need them anymore. I've learned that any carb craving is momentary, and I don't really want to eat that food and it probably won't be as good as I remember it was* anyway. At over 3 years, I don't do regular cheat days anymore, though occasionally I do have something off plan. Either way, the mindset of it is that it is a cheat, not a reward, because food is no longer a reward for anything and it doesn't feel that way to me. And I go back to my regular food right away, no exceptions.

That being said, it has left me a bit lost lately because I used to use food to self-medicate in times of stress or depression and now I don't have it as a crutch. I wish I still got the same psychological relief from eating junk food, because I had to put my cat to sleep two weeks ago and food escape would be nice, but my brain has rewired itself. So even though I'm terribly sad and lost, food doesn't make me feel any better unless I'm hungry and need to eat. It also helps that I can't afford to gain any weight because none of my clothes would fit, and I'm at a point where I can eat all of the LC foods I want and not gain more than a pound or two. I'd have to cut calories to lose weight again, but I'm happy enough where I am.

*Except Doritos. Seriously. I don't know what they do to them, but it is black voodoo chemical magic.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by solarpluvia View Post
I wish I still got the same psychological relief from eating junk food, because I had to put my cat to sleep two weeks ago and food escape would be nice, but my brain has rewired itself. So even though I'm terribly sad and lost, food doesn't make me feel any better unless I'm hungry and need to eat. .
I am really sorry about your cat. It brings tears to my eyes to think of my departed beloved pets.

Really, though, be careful what you wish for. Far better imo, though painful, to experience the sadness and sorrow. That may be a better way to honor our loved ones than to squash our feelings with food (or drink). That said, I understand where you are coming from. A little relief can be so inviting.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:11 PM   #11
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I have carby meals or snacks sometimes purely for psychological reasons and not as a metabolism re-set. The freedom to choose to eat things that I normally do not help me to keep on my plan long-term. That said, I am not perfect and sometimes I go off plan when I meant to stick to it, and, yes, it does lead to cravings. I find you have to be very accountable and know yourself very well for carb cycling (or even occasional off-plan meals) to work.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:57 PM   #12
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I never intentionally go off plan, but I certainly have unintentionally gone off plan.
That's frequent enough that I don't need to plan beyond that. I can't imagine that carb cycling would work for me. JUDD sounds really tough. I need to keep things simple and rededicate myself every morning to staying on plan.
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Old 08-11-2014, 02:17 PM   #13
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Well so far no one has said that the planned cheat/reward has done anything to help them lose more... but, it has helped them stay on plan knowing they could have something they wanted in the near future.

Solar... so sorry about your kitty.. I totally know what you are going through, and I still turn to food and booze to comfort myself. I so badly want to "sit with" my feelings and just let them flow.

I envy those of you who have been able to totally change your mindset about what your WOE is for a lifetime. Part of my problem is that I don't really believe I can do that.. There's always hope..

Thanks for everyone's feedback!
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:06 PM   #14
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dipgal,
It dosen't seem as though my comment quite fits with what you are asking,but....food is not a reward, it is not love, it is not comfort. It is fuel. The most unfortunate thing is that the human race has made food into something nature did not intend. The result is why many of us are trying so hard to lose excess weight, we consumed more fuel than we needed.

BTW you look so much like SIL you could be twins
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:35 PM   #15
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I just don't think it has been explored enough to say with certainty if there are any benefits. For me personally it's something I started doing every 2 weeks with a 5 hour window. I started doing this after eating clean for 5 months (once I had lost most of what I wanted to lose).

I do not do it in hopes that it will help me at the gym or improve my health... I do it because it helps me stick with this in the long run. I'm actually much more sure of myself that I will not fall off the wagon or have random cheat days because I know there is a day around the corner when I can have some pizza and sugary candy. The "ohhh no I can never have real pizza again" thoughts were what made me fell off the wagon last time. Now every other Sunday night I have one and I do not feel like anything is ruined because it's a part of the plan (a reasonable one... obviously it won't work if you do it every other day).

It takes me about 24 hours to get back in ketosis after the carb-night. I definitely feel it the day after, almost like I'm hung over, but the 2nd day I feel like my usual keto-self. I can't know for sure but from my personal experience I do not think it ruins the adaption if you were fully adapted before you started and don't do it too often.

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Old 08-11-2014, 08:02 PM   #16
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Maximum- I was adopted at 2 weeks old..so maybe she is my sister! I am in the Midwest - born in Chicago in (gulp) 1956. I do have info on my birth parents, if it's possible please let me know.

Mr. G -thanks for your input!
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Old 08-12-2014, 12:38 PM   #17
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Thank you, Patience and dipgal. It has been very hard. I've been having the feelings and flowing and all. I was lucky enough to have some time to prepare for it mentally, as much as it is possible to do so.

I've never found that a cheat day helps with weight loss, it was just about making the lifestyle changeover work for me.
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:16 PM   #18
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dipgal,
I guess you'll have to call her doppelganger (if I have the right word?) The age is off by a few years and I can't see my inlaws giving up a child.
I hope your adoptive parents were wonderful
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Old 08-12-2014, 04:24 PM   #19
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I think everyone is very different. What works really well for one person, wouldn't work for another. Some will do great with IF, but others need to eat many smaller meals throughout the day. Some people can handle an occasional cheat meal, others can't. We all have to find out what works best for us personally.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:05 AM   #20
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Maximum - I thought maybe if your SIL was also adopted we could be sisters.. Uh no, my adoptive parents weren't wonderful, but they did the best they could as all parents do. I blame my mother for my issues with my self-esteem, body image and behavior around food - but I guess at the age of 58 it's time to drop that and take responsibility for myself. LOL

What I've gotten out of this thread is that like most things, it is all about experimentation and figuring out what works best for us. No shortcuts I guess.

Thanks again to everyone who shared!
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:20 AM   #21
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Hi - I've had unplanned carby days for example when eating at friend's houses who have cooked without knowing I was low-carbing. I knew it wouldn't kill me (although it generally didn't leave me feeling *great*!!) and that with the amount of exercise I was doing, staying in ketosis wouldn't be an issue. To be honest, these days helped to remind me mainly of how dreadful I felt after eating carbs and really motivated me to go back to clean, low-carb food as soon as possible!!

I noticed before I started this that my friend who had great success on low-carb used very specific language when talking about food. He never said, for example, 'I'm not allowed that', he said things like 'I don't eat cake'. I adopted this and it seems to really help remind me that this is my choice - I CAN eat cake...I choose not to.

Also, I spend a long time browsing shops and reading labels and finding low carb things that I like even more than the things I previously ate. For example, almond milk to me is MUCH nicer than cows' milk (which is weird and disgusting) and only 0.1% carbs (practically negligible!). I get excited to try new low-carb things and enjoy it as a bit of a shopping adventure! I think this helps me not to 'miss' things as the new things are so delicious!!
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