There has been a lot of discussion about cheat days in recent years, especially regarding the benefits they can offer for those who wish to achieve fat loss. 20 years ago, if you told someone you were going to have a cheat day to help your fat loss, you probably would have received the stink eye look and possibly a punch in the mouth for speaking such heresy.
These days, you can search the web for an entire diet plan that revolves around the concept of a cheat day. Some of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve found were: When should a cheat day be implemented? What the heck is it? And which people should steer clear of it?
Increased fat loss with junk food.
Just about everyone who has stood around a barbell for more than 5 minutes can understand some of the basic concepts of the cheat day and the benefits they can provide. A cheat that is done correctly can:
Refill depleted glycogen stores to support hard training in the future.
Gives those who follow the diet something to look forward to, which will help them get through the darker days of the restriction.
Kick-start a metabolism which may have slowed down.
Ward off the potential catabolism from a prolonged diet.
The problem is, many dieters can fail to properly implement a cheat day. They do it at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons.
The basics of cheating.
While it’s not my particular drink of choice, bodybuilding (and those who participate in the sport) must be given a good deal of credit when it comes to dieting breakthroughs. It’s easy to assume, and correctly so, that it was a bodybuilder who was one of the first to implement a cheat day after weeks or months of following a restricted diet. And guess what…he ends looking better because of it!
Those who don’t participate in bodybuilding can still reap the same benefits of cheat day. A couple of days later, you can notice that your lifts have improved and you bodyfat has decreased. But how is this possible?
As any good cheater will tell you, a cheat meal is packed to the brim with all the macros: carbs, protein and fat. All of the extra calories will give your metabolism a temporary boost, so don’t be surprised if you start noticing some sweat appearing after your meals(the sweat means its working).
The extra carbs will replenish your glycogen stores and the fat will help fill out the muscle. Also, the elevated sodium will help with water retention and glycogen storage, also useful for strength.
How to know when you need a cheat day.
As we’ve discussed, cheat meals are great for diets–so here are a few signs to watch for that could indicate you need a cheat day:
You are having bad workouts on a regular basis.
The temperature of your body is starting to drop.
Lowered calories isn’t helping your fat loss plateau.
You just dropped a lot of weight in a short amount of time (more than one percent of your total bodyweight in a week-not including water weight).
If one or more of these apply to your situation, then you need a cheat meal. If none of these apply, you probably don’t need one–even if its all you can think about!
Become the master of your cheating domain.
There is a little more science to eat than just “eating a bunch of crap”, but not much more. Try to use the following guidelines:
Keep the meals around 45 to 60 minutes in length.
Have the cheat the night before you work a weak lift. The additional glycogen will make sure you have a powerful training session.
Have whatever you want, as much as you want; keeping in mind that you need a lot of all THREE macronutrients.
Remember to not fast the next day and only have water or juice, as this will definitely start resembling an eating disorder. Instead, reduce the following days calories by 10% or so.
This weekend, I am planning to have the most epic feast that it’s possible I will never recover from it. Hint: There will be about 6 types of meat and 2 types of desserts. At least. Be sure to look for it my new blog post next Monday!
My good friend Arnnie showed me this. Its been on repeat all day.