Cheat meals

Cheat meals: everyone’s favorite topic. Questions regarding cheat meals are the most common questions I get asked. How often can they be incorporated into a diet, what’s off limits, what do I recommend?


Typical Out-of-Control Cheat Meal

First, a cheat meal is not supposed to be an amateur episode of Man Versus Food. I have seen people blow a weeks’ worth of work by a single cheat meal. I am guilty of this myself. Eating an entire jar of Nutella or gallon of ice cream in one sitting is counterproductive to your goals, no matter what your goals are.

I like to use the analogy of a sponge. When you are training hard and eating clean, your body is going to get depleted. Your glycogen levels will be very minimal, thyroid levels will start to drop, and leptin levels will be suppressed. Anecdotally, most people notice this by feeling cold, feeling tired, and not getting the same pump and aggression as normal when training.  Your body is like a shriveled sponge at this point. It will basically absorb back into the liver and muscle cells any calories you ingest. However anything above and beyond what your body needs to replenish will be stored as body fat. A general rule I like to use for a cheat meal is to double the number of calories in a meal that you would normally eat.  For example, if a 200-pound male is eating 6 600-calorie meals per day, on his cheat day he should consume 5 600-calorie meals and 1-1200 calorie meal.

Besides the physical benefits, the secondary benefit to the cheat meal is to enjoy foods outside of your diet and break the monotony of eating the same food choices every day.  You should enjoy the social aspect as much as the physical aspect of the caloric reefed. This is why I always recommend timing your cheat meals for when it’s a friend’s birthday, mother’s day or other social event so you can enjoy the social aspect of the meal, as well as the physical.

The same guidelines about trying to eat wholesome, non-processed nutrient rich foods in your everyday diet also apply to your cheat meal. I want you to go out and enjoy yourself and eat whatever you’re craving but don’t just go out and eat junk. Try to stick with calorie dense nutritious options like a quality burger with sweet potato fries, homemade spaghetti and meat balls, or a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Personally, my favorite cheat meals usually involve breakfast foods. 6 whole eggs, with a big plate of pancakes and sugar free syrup, and some melon on the side is one of my favorite cheat meals.

The last point I want to address is frequency. For the average person, a cheat meal frequency of one meal per week is optimal. However, the leaner you are, the more cheat meals you will need because your metabolism is faster and you have less of energy (body fat) reserves stored. In other words, someone in competition shape may require 3 cheat meals per week. If you have a significant amount of body fat to loose, cheat meals should be limited to maximum once per week.

You afraid your cheat meals will be too big? need help? try N2Slin:  

What is N2Slin? Why use it?  It’s a nutrient partitioner that helps you store glucose in muscle tissue instead of fat tissue during cheat meal spill-over.  Imagine, eat bigger cheat meals without worrying about gaining bodyfat!


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