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The Cheat Mindset: The most destructive thing I’ve seen as a health coach

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Dragonfly Transformation & Wellness

April 2021


I’ve been NEEDING to write this for a long time.

As a health coach, clients come to me with a myriad of learned behaviors, disordered eating habits, and unhealthy psychological issues related to a lifetime of societal programming. It’s one of the main reasons weight loss must incorporate habit change in order for long-term success to happen.

Of all the things I’ve seen, the cheat mindset is by far the most destructive thing I’ve witnessed and equally one of the hardest for clients to unlearn. It’s seductive lure is tough to fight once you’ve allowed yourself this indulgence. I see the aftermath that spirals like clock work over and over again. People don’t truly understand the physical and psychological chaos they are causing themselves and their health when indulging in this behavior.

The Cheat Mindset
The Cheat Mindset

So let’s break it down! I’m just going to say it - the cheat mentality canNOT work on a low-carb diet.

Let me explain why.

As a “cheat meal” enters your system, your body will turn those carbohydrates into glucose. As the glucose travels around your body in your bloodstream, your insulin levels will rise. Which in turn signals your body to STOP fat burn. Your body will stop losing weight and return to using glucose to fuel your muscles and brain (instead of the highly efficient body fat you had worked so hard to switch the fuel source to).

Some of that glucose will be stored in your liver and muscles. This requires a fair amount of water—about 3 to 4 grams of water for every 1 gram of glycogen—so overnight, you’ll probably put on around four pounds of ‘water weight’. Cue cries of ‘there’s no way that pizza weighed that much!’ It didn’t. Most of that weight is water.

If there’s any glucose left over after this carb binge, that’ll be stored as fat.

Terrific. More fat. The very stuff we’re trying to lose.

But it gets worse.

I say this often! Eating too many, or too few, carbs makes you crave more carbs! It’s simply science, and precise balancing is necessary. One our weight loss program does to perfection. Those extra “cheat meal” carbs will trigger the production of other hormones—hormones that make you hungry. HANGRY hungry! So suddenly, that cheat meal or cheat day wasn’t enough… now you want a cheat week! More pizza! Some garlic bread! Those desserts look pretty good too…

This sudden introduction of carbs often makes people feel sluggish. It’s called a carb-coma. It’s an actual thing. It feels really gross.

Finally, if you suffer from any high-carb-related problems such as bloating or acid reflux, there’s a good chance that’ll come right back.

Now on top of a spiraling physical crisis, psychologically, you’re filled with shame, regret, and remorse, eroding your self-esteem, and any previous confidence success on the program had given you. This triggers emotional eating behaviors to soothe your self-loathing and frustration, which further distance you from your commitment to your health goals.

You decide to jump back on plan, full-bore on Monday, but guess what? Since your body has now consumed enough carbs to store glycogen in its emergency storage banks once again, you’re going to go through carb withdrawal all over again for 1-3 days and feel awful. AWFUL. Headache, fatigue, nausea, brain fog, and even muscle cramps. Wasn’t the first time enough to seer it into your memory?

If you’re lucky, you’ll get into fat burn again for ONE day before you jump off the wagon again on Friday, and the “cheat” cycle begins again.

This cycle continues, possibly for weeks, maybe for months, you limp along. Finally, you declare that a low-carb diet isn’t for you since you:

1. Aren’t losing weight

2. Feel awful most of the time

3. Have no energy

4. And you’re constantly starving

None of which would be true (and actually, the opposite would happen) if you had simply tossed that cheat mentality out the window with the excess carbs right from the beginning.

The real reason why ‘cheat days’ don’t work for us low-carbers is simply this; you can’t cheat your body. It’s not physically possible. The only thing you’re actually cheating here is YOURSELF and YOUR HEALTH.

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels! Lean into your coach, and your program tools! I promise it’s worth it!!

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