Cheat Meals: Good Or Bad?
So you’re prepping for a show or cutting and you’ve had an awesome week of dieting. It gets Saturday night and you’re ready to load up on the dirtiest cheat meal known to man. Burgers, Pizza, Fries. After all you’ve been so good all week you deserve a reward and your metabolism needs a kickstart right?
Cheat meals (and it’s bigger brother ‘the cheat day’) can be one of the biggest killers of results for competitors or someone looking to get lean and mean. While its true that dieting decreases your metabolic rate and lowers hormones which are beneficial for fat loss. Having a cheat meal is probably not the best way to go about rectifying this issue.
Acute refeeds like cheat meals don’t really do much for improving metabolic down regulation. In fact studies show its more like 48-72 hours (minimum) of refeeding to start to see the benefits. The only real benefit to having a cheat meal is phycological e.g knowing your favourite cheat meal is not far away keeps you on track until that time plus after that cheat meal you’re ready to get back on your diet. For this reason i don’t have an issue with cheat meals regardless of their ability to regulate metabolism.
But When you think that the average cheat meal is usually between 1500-3000 calories in one meal this is where the issue lies. That would be someones entire weekly deficit blown away. Also as I’ve mentioned above when you’re dieting you’re most likely already in a place where you’re metabolism is negatively impacted so you’re body is primed to store fat. In other words that burger or pizza is most likely going straight to your hips.
If you’re going to have a cheat meal make it smaller and organise your daily calories so that it fits into your plan and doesn’t blow out your weekly deficit and stall your results.
For a more effective approach plan 2-7 day refeeds or even longer diet breaks into your prep or cutting phase so that you get all the metabolic benefits associated with refeeds along with the phycological benefits.
Client in Photo: Petelo
Strength Lab - Personal Training, Body Transformation Coaching and Competition Preparation
Personal Training Camberwell, Melbourne