I am often asked how much is allowed to cheat on Medifast or if you will still lose weight if you cheat. Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by cheating. Because technically, I’ve been cheating my diet the entire time. However, I think there is a safe and effective way to do it, which I will discuss in the next article.
Understand how Medifast really works: The reason this diet is so effective is really threefold. First, you are simply eating fewer calories than you normally would, since the foods are low in calories and carbohydrates. Second, you are eating six small meals throughout the day, which helps speed up your metabolism and fight hunger. Finally, because you consume fewer carbohydrates and more protein, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis that encourages your body to burn its own fat.
Ketosis is truly the promised land of this diet and where you ultimately want to be. You can test this by using ketone strips, which definitely tell you if you have reached this state. (You can get them at almost any pharmacy or supercenter.)
Does cheating on the Medifast diet get you out of ketosis ?: You will stop losing weight so quickly and dramatically if you come out of ketosis. However, the good news is that it only takes a few days to get back inside. So there really is no need to panic if you notice on the ketone strips that you are out. And you are much more likely to get out of this state if you cheat by eating carbs. You’ll be in much better shape if you cheat on protein. So technically it’s better to strain out a nice juicy burger than to try to strain out a donut or piece of pie.
The trick that I think has really helped me lose weight with Medifast: Okay, now I’m going to admit that I don’t always stick with things as designed. But I am smart about it. I add things to my prepackaged foods several times a day. What I mean by this is that I add fat-free, sugar-free syrups to smoothies, puddings, and cappuccino. Sometimes I also add fat free whipped cream. I also add fat-free cheese, sour cream, and hummus to chili, eggs, and soups / stews. Sometimes I also add sparkling water to smoothies for a fountain-type fizzy drink. I use the dry ingredients for the pudding to make “safe” muffins, cakes, and cookies.
In short, I take a lot of liberties with food, but I try to use fat-free or sugar-free ingredients when I do this. This gives me more variety and makes me more excited to eat food.
The liberties I take with my lean and green food: Each day, you will eat five packaged meals on this diet and prepare one meal yourself. (Some people will skip this meal, but you shouldn’t because I think doing this will slow down your metabolism. I’ve experimented with this and it has almost always slowed down my results.) You are supposed to eat lean protein and low glycemic veggies and for the most part, I stick with this. But, if my family is eating minced steak, sometimes I’m not going to make chicken breast just for myself. Or, if my family has sweet green peas, I’m not going to say no because they have a high glycemic index. And every once in a while, I don’t refuse a hamburger if I take the bun from it.
I imagine that if I am eating a “lean and mostly green meal”, I am doing quite well. And even with small mistakes, I still eat a LOT less calories and carbohydrates than normal. And, if my weight loss is any indication, I’m fine.