Apart from being fun, cheat meals are actually a great way to boost your metabolic rate. If you think they are necessarily a bad thing, you are wrong, because your metabolism burns hot after a sudden intake of those extra calories. A nice cheat meal once or twice per week won’t get you fat, so there’s no reason for feeling guilty, because it potentiates the effect of enhanced muscle gains and fat loss. Protein is utilized better, metabolically damaging gut bacteria is reduced, as well as your cravings, which makes it easier for you to get and stay lean.
I’m sure that some of you will find this a bit suspicious or too good to be true, so let’s dive into the matter.
Two Ways of Programming Your Body
Many lifters look at muscle gains and fat loss as two different and separate strategies. Many people, thus, make the mistake of mistakenly programming their bodies to work as an efficient fat-storage mechanism that’s stubborn about pumping muscle at the same time. When it comes to gaining muscle and losing weight, you could be your own worst enemy. Body composition is dynamic, always leaning in one direction, and many people accidentally cause it to lean in a direction opposite to their needs and aims. Their metabolic rate doesn’t become slow, but sluggish.
Muscle cells are resistant to pulling in nutrients required for growing, while fat cells get swollen. As a result, your body is left with two choices – to be chubby-strong or skinny-fat. In order to fix these body composition problems once and for all, you need a strategy to program your body for being muscular and lean.
What are Cheat Meals?
Cheat meals are high-carb, high-calorie meals composed of foods that you don’t normally eat in your day-to-day nutrition regimen. I must also mention that it refers to a single meal, while cheat days are something else (cheat days can only produce a negative effect for your body, and you should follow a 90/10 plan – stick to 90% of your diet plan and let the rest be cheat meals).
Cheat meals are a great tool to use to ensure you maintain micronutrient fulfillment, hormonal balance, and a healthy metabolism. You need this to achieve low levers of body fat, while sustaining weight loss. After keeping your body in a calorie deficit for a certain period of time, cheat meals help to continue to maintain physical, metabolic, and psychological health, as well as avoid plateaus and continue losing fat. However, most people feel guilty immediately after consuming a cheat meal, start a dietary restriction straightaway, and don’t feel the advantage of these effects.
The Psychological Benefits of Cheat Meals
Even the most lean-built gym enthusiasts would lose it while sticking to a strict diet over the course of 3 months. The psychological benefit of cheat meals is that they make your diet seem more achievable. You reward yourself with a plate of your favorite, delicious, but not so healthy food, which has a delayed gratification effect. Some lifters add a bit of marijuana smoke after a hard training, to alleviate the tension, relax and recover more quickly. If you’re a marijuana aficionado or want to try it for the first time, make sure you know what you are inhaling. You can do so by making your purchases at a medical marijuana dispensary. Also make sure you don’t do it before your training, because there’s a possibility your focus will be decreased.
Cheat Meals vs Re-Feeds
A cheat meal, such as french fries, hamburgers or pizza, are cheat meals – typically, these are junk foods that are not included in your diet plan. On the other hand, a re-feed is a planned increase in caloric intake (usually a large amount of carbs) that lasts 8-12 hours. Re-feeds are still healthy, but should be consumed for a specific purpose. They are often used by low-calorie dieters who need to spike their metabolism and replenish muscle glycogen.
Cheat meals are most effective during periods of prolonged and definite caloric restriction. The need for them will depend on your hormonal and metabolic profile, and the duration of your calorie deficit. The longer and more restricted the diet, the more frequently a cheat meal will benefit the recovery of your hormonal levels. Cheat meals should be high in carbs and calories, but not massive in volume.
If your body finds the cheat meal unnecessary for hormonal and metabolic recovery, you will most likely notice no changes in energy levels, increased water retention and scale weight. Otherwise, there will be little to no excess water. And an increase in energy, scale weigh, and vascularity. When assessing when a cheat meal is needed, just listen to your body, as every person experiences different hormonal changes.
About the Author:
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Check out his website ripped.me and follow him on Twitter.