Welcome back! I took a (much needed) break over the holiday weekend – all four amazing days of it. Kyle and I spent time with the dogs, cleaned the house, saw a movie, and even went shopping. It was wonderful! But now, it’s back to normal. At least it’s a short work week for us. I hope you all had a great Easter weekend and enjoyed some family time and great food. Now, onto business – cheating on your diet. Or, ways to “cheat” without actually cheating.
We all want to stay on track when we’re trying to reach a goal. Not like any of us set out to fail, right? When trying to lose weight, it can get tough to stick to your plan when hunger hits… and it can hit pretty hard sometimes! Being hungry is not fun, but during prep, when hunger hits you just have to ride it out. Or do you? Over the last three years and seven competitions, I’ve learned a few small “cheats” which help me out immensely.
1. Stay busy. Ok, I’ll admit this one isn’t super fun, and it’s definitely not tasty, but it’s honestly the most effective thing you can do. When you’re focused on something else, you can’t notice your hunger – pretty simple. I think 99% of us would agree that the evenings are the biggest challenge. Personally, I find it pretty easy when I’m at work – I only have a set amount of food with me, no access to anything else, and there’s enough to keep me busy. But at home in the evening? That’s a different story. So, I do my best to stay busy. Cooking more food for the week, packing meals for the next day, cleaning, reading, writing articles, shopping online (a personal fav), preparing fitness class playlists, or even taking the dogs for a walk are ways I pass time and keep my mind off food.
2. Chewing gum. I’m confident that all competitors will agree with this one. Once prep hits a certain point, your stash of gum grows out of control. You know which flavours last longest, which brands are best, and which get rock hard in 10 seconds. Gum can provide you with the sweet flavours you might be craving, or the minty variety can help “finish” off a meal much like brushing your teeth does. For the general population, chew away! For competitors, you should consider cutting gum out a couple of weeks before the stage as the artificial sweeteners may cause bloating, or the simple act of chewing can cause the same issue. FYI – the Starburst gum is pretty good, but strawberry is better than cherry, in my opinion, and Trident layers are always a good choice.
3. Diet pop. Yup, this deadly stuff is my one big vice, especially during prep. The carbonation helps you feel full and the sweetness helps kill some cravings, not to mention the caffeine boost in the mid-afternoon can be incredibly helpful. I’ll have one when necessary, but limit myself to only one a day.
4. BCAAs. Again, this is a great way to curb that sweet tooth in a healthy way. Branch Chain Amino Acids come in so many great flavours now and actually serve a helpful purpose as well. BCAAs reduce the rate of protein breakdown (which is great when you’re in a calorie deficit and trying to hold on to as much muscle as possible) and can even help improve workout intensity – a huge bonus when you’re low-carb and lacking energy. I drink these throughout my workout as well as during cardio sessions. If I’m struggling with hunger at home, I’ll sip on this as a change from basic water. As an added treat, make them into a slushie for an extra refreshing and “dessert-like” drink (just blend it with some ice and a little water).
5. Mug cakes. Ok, I saved the BEST tip for last – cake. Yup, you read that right. All you need is a scoop of protein powder, baking powder, egg whites, and water to make a guilt-free cake. On rest days I’ll turn my protein shake into a mug cake because it’s always more satisfying to eat something, right? I made an amazing one the other night, and made note of the ingredients for a change:
- One scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 TBSP powdered peanut butter (PB2)
- 1/2 TBSP liquid egg whites
Combine all the ingredients in a microwave safe dish (a mug if you want to stay true to the name…). Add the water slowly, while stirring, until everything is incorporated and you have a batter-like consistency. Put it in the microwave for one minute – keep an eye on it, especially if it’s in a small mug because it has the tendency to overflow! Check it after a minute, if the middle is still soggy, put it back in for 30 seconds increments, until cooked through (it shouldn’t take much longer than 1.5 minutes). As a note – the consistency won’t be like normal cake, but hey, it’s cake-like, and that’s good enough for me. Feel free to add seasonings such as cinnamon, cocoa, or pumpkin pie spice for different tastes – also play with protein flavours. I’ll top mine with some Walden Farms syrups (which are zero calorie – another great dieting purchase). There are so many options!
So, there you have it. Those are my top five “cheats” when in prep. They all help me a lot, so give them a try for yourself. Have a great day!