Guest Post: How To Effectively Use Cheat Meals

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Our latest post comes from the wonderful and talented Samantha Olivier from Ripped.me. We’re delighted to have Samantha featured on the site again and know you’ll enjoy her latest piece.

Yes, I know, the word “cheat” sounds awful, but before you go all negative on cheat meals, you should know that they can be a valuable tool that can boost your metabolic rate. There are cheat strategies that people of all fitness levels and sizes can implement successfully. However, considering factors such as your previous dieting failure/success, daily eating habits, and fitness goals is a must as part of your self-evaluation.

Eating clean for the most of your week, staying active and rewarding yourself is at the heart of this matter. After a sudden intake of those extra calories, your metabolism starts burning hot, and the effects of enhanced fat loss and muscle gains are increased. Your body utilizes protein better, your cravings are reduced as well as metabolically damaging gut bacteria. So, there’s no need to feel guilty after consuming a cheat meal from time to time, because it actually helps you to become and stay lean.

What is a cheat meal?

bread-food-healthy-breakfast

A cheat meal is a meal high in calories and carbs, composed of foods that are not a part of your daily nutrition plan. It’s not the same as a cheat day, as cheat days don’t have any positive effects on your body.

By following the 90/10 rule (sticking to your diet plan 90% of the time, while letting cheat meals be the rest), you will maintain a healthy metabolism, hormonal balance, and micronutrient fulfillment. If you’re someone who exercises regularly, you keep your body in a caloric deficit for some time. With cheat meals, you maintain your psychological and metabolic health, sustain weight loss and reduce body fat. However, after consuming a cheat meal, people tend to feel guilty, restrict their diets immediately and prevent themselves from feeling its advantages.

Proper body programming

Weight Fitness Studio Fitness Dumbbell
Weight Fitness Studio Fitness Dumbbell

Building muscle and losing fat simultaneously require a good strategy, and many people make a mistake by programming their bodies to work as fat-storage mechanisms. This makes it impossible to pump muscle at the same time. Interestingly, human body composition is dynamic and always leans in one direction. By causing it to lean in the direction opposite than the one you need will make your metabolic rate sluggish. Fat cells get swollen while muscle cells resist pulling in required nutrients, leaving your body with only two choices – being skinny-fat or chubby-strong. Finding a strategy to program your body to be lean and muscular is the only way to fix those body composition problems.

Re-feeds vs Cheat meals

Cheat meals are typically junk food (pizza, french fries, and hamburgers) that aren’t included in your daily nutrition plan. Re-feed, on the other hand, is a planned increase in caloric intake that lasts up to 12 hours. Re-feeds don’t necessarily have to be junk food, but healthy meals consumed for a specific purpose, and are used by low-calorie dieters who need to replenish muscle glycogen and spike their metabolism.

Cheat meals and mental benefits

Any lean-built exercise enthusiast will tell you that sticking to a strict diet for a couple of months is hard work. The role of cheat meals is to make your diet plan seem more realistic and achievable. It shows all the power of delayed gratification – after sticking to your daily meal plan for six days, reward yourself with a plate of your favorite, not-so-healthy, but delicious food (delayed gratification makes us associate hard work with high rewards).

To recover more quickly, relax, and alleviate the tension after a hard training session, some people like to add a pinch of marijuana to their daily routine. Regardless of whether you haven’t tried it yet or are already a “weed person”, you should know what you’re smoking. Thanks to the legalization acts in several U.S. states (Colorado, California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, it’s easier than ever to enjoy weed safely. So, for example, you can visit medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas for quality marijuana strains that will surely produce the effect you need. But be cautious, because you can decrease your focus if you overdo it before training. There are people who support the theory that marijuana is beneficial for weightlifters, increasing our pain threshold as well as our appetite, and helping with our post-workout recovery.

Cheat meals are at their most effective during periods of prolonged caloric restriction. The duration of your calorie deficit and your metabolic/hormonal profile determine your need for cheat meals, and the more restricted and longer your diet is, the more benefits you’ll gain from frequent cheat meals. These meals shouldn’t be massive in volume, but high in calories and carbs.

You can include one or two cheat meals per week to keep yourself sane, if you follow the 90/10 rule. Their purpose is not to fill our bellies, but to satisfy our taste buds and provide the extra calories. Don’t confuse cheat meals with cheat days, because it will be too much and you’ll most likely notice no changes in your scale weight or energy levels. Make sure that your body thinks the cheat meal is necessary. As we all have different needs, you’ll have to learn to listen to your body.

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