If you are reading this article then you’re probably a few weeks into your diet and you’re thinking “fuck this” I miss the delicious taste of pizza and donuts. We’ve all been there, myself included. In a world full of consumer goods its hard to stay on your diet. Well I’m here to tell you, you can have the best of both worlds in moderation. We’re going to take a deep dive in to the secrets of getting away with cheat meals and having them help you lose weight.
common myths about cheat meals
A common misconception about cheat meals is that they will not help you progress in terms of fat loss. With the right strategy you can turn your cheat meals into fat burning bombs that will increase your metabolic rate and energy levels. I’ve done about 8 bodybuilding shows where I have experimented with different cheat meal placements and strategies and this is what I’ve learned.
Timing is everything
When you have your cheat meal it is extremely important especially if you are practicing a low carbohydrate diet. Learning how to leverage your cheat meal is extremely important. Your cheat meal can either be looked at as a guilty pleasure or a tool you can use once a week to increase your fat loss journey.
When is the best time to have a cheat meal?
The best time to have a cheat meal is post workout, this allows your body to use the sugars from your cheat meal as an insulin spike and help put you into an anabolic state. This will help you put on muscle and lose fat.
How many times a week should I have a cheat meal?
Once a week is all you need when it comes to cheat meals, the more muscle mass you have the more cheat meals I would have on a given day.
Choosing the right cheat meal is important
Not all cheat meals are created equally, your cheat meal should be looked at as an opportunity to fulfill your craving and have practical applications as well. The more muscle mass you carry the more protein you’ll need on a daily basis to sustain the quantity of muscle on your frame. If you’re going to reach for that Cinnabon you’ve been having wet dreams about its best if you wash it down with a protein shake so you’re still getting your daily requirement of protein.
I’m a glutton for junk food, it’s like my weekly tinder date … seems like a good idea at the moment and then I wake up with regret and sadness. With that being said I would try to keep your cheat meals as clean as possible.
What are good examples of clean cheat meals?
Anything you have to cook is typically a good cheat meal. You want to avoid processed foods, when you diet for a long period of time your body rejects these processed goods and has you getting acquainted with your porcelain thrown in the morning.
How big of a cheat meal should I have?
If you are having a clean cheat meal I would say eat as much as you want, your body can only process so much food at one time so you’re not at a huge risk if you add a few more 100 calories to your cheat meal.
Cheat meals can help you lose weight
It sounds counter productive right? Eat the cheeseburger and you’ll speed up your metabolic rate. When this is done correctly it can help you push past plateaus for multiple reasons. I’m going to give you a quick list of how to justify that cheat meal.
- Increase in insulin - When you have a cheat meal, specifically one with high carbohydrate content you’ll be able to spike your insulin a rev up your fat loss capabilities and muscle growth. However this response should be used sparingly, once a week is the best option to make sure you get the most out of this.
- Restore glycogen storage - You know after you’ve eaten something a bit on the bad side and you go workout? Bet you get a pretty nice pump. Like Arnold said “the best exercises for health are pumping and humping” I can’t guarantee you’ll get the second statement accomplished but achieving a pump post workout is 100% possible. When you have a surplus of carbohydrates on your cheat meals the glycogen will be stored in your muscle for a few days giving you the energy you need to workout.
- Reduce craving - Personally I find if I have a cheat meal it helps me get through the rest of the week. I spend quite a bit less time goggling at the candy aisle at my local grocery.
Don’t sugar coat the truth you’ll eat that too
Okay so If you’ve read any of my other articles you probably know I’m honest. And in order for this relationship with you and cheat meals to work out you need to be honest with yourself as well. Congratulations Becky you’re on week two of your diet and you still have 60 lbs you’d like to lose, you don’t need to have 2-4 cheat meals a week. You’ve had enough of those which has gotten you to where you’re at now. Which is fine you can’t change the past but you can be honest with yourself now and kick ass on your new diet and workout program.
When Do I know I need a cheat meal?
There is not an easy answer to this question because i’m not personally in front of you, so you’ll have to gauge that one for yourself. What I can say is that the further you are away from your weight loss goal, the less likely you need a cheat meal.
When Will I know I have enough muscle mass to justify increasing my cheat meals?
If you are on the first 6 months of your fitness journey than its pretty safe to say you probably don’t look like Hercules yet, sticking to one cheat meal a week for the first 6 months is a pretty safe bet.
Over the past 10 years my perspective on proper cheat meal strategy has definitely changed. My earlier conclusions were probably due to my love of junk food and wrongful justification of these processed foods. As I have gotten older and hopefully a bit wiser I have found that once a week is all you need. Making sure the timing of the cheat meal is post workout is equally as important as this gives the cheat meal more function. Lastly, you need to be honest with yourself. I am just as guilty when it comes to this subject, I can with 100 percent accuracy tell you eating 4000 extra calories in a day from processed food and candy will be counter productive for helping you lose weight while utilizing a cheat meal and it will probably have you shitting your brains out the next morning. So lets save the environment and not use extra toilet paper and cheat correctly on our diets for the best results.