Some people are completely opposed to cheat meals, saying that it could undo all the hard work and effort they have put in with their nutrition. This is an understandable concern, but I would say it comes from a lack of knowledge on how these kinds of refeeds are supposed to be executed.
When used correctly, cheat meals can actually improve your health and your results.
Of course I’m not talking about bingeing on junk food here, but rather about going out and getting some ice cream with your girlfriend or having a big bowl of pasta at a dinner date. That kind of stuff.
Cheat meals are especially helpful if you have been dieting for a long period, but can also be a great tool when you are still trying to lose weight and body fat, but want to give your muscles some extra glycogen.
That’s why I believe cheat meals can be beneficial for pretty much everyone. They just have to be done right, so here are five tips on how to do that.
5 Tips On How To Do Cheat Meals Right
1. Place your cheat meal strategically in your diet plan
The first and most important thing when it comes to planning out a cheat meal is deciding when you want to do it. You can follow the “rule of thumb” which says that you should have one cheat meal for every 7-10 straight days of eating clean, but you should consider your own personal schedule and daily needs.
Personally I like to have at least one cheat meal per week, but sometimes it happens that I go two or three weeks without having one. On the other hand, I once did a 10-week bulk where each day of the diet had a refeed built into it. It all just depends on your preference and where you are at in your diet.
2. Keep it small
The whole point of a cheat meal is getting the extra calories, so I wouldn’t worry too much about going overboard here. You don’t want to eat yourself sick, but one or two high-calorie meals isn’t gonna make all your hard work go to waste.
The main problem with eating more than about 800-1000 extra calories on your cheat meal is the extra load on your digestive system, but as long as you are not doing this every day it should be no big deal if you eat a little too much.
3. Get some protein in there
Protein is important for muscle growth and maintenance, so it makes sense to get at least some protein into your cheat meal. A good idea would be to eat a regular meal before your cheat meal and use that as the primary source of protein, while allowing yourself to fill up on carbs for the rest of the calories in your diet plan.
The same can be done on cheat day, but not everyone wants to go through the trouble of buying and preparing food on their one day off a week.
4. Don’t stress out about it
One thing I see many people do is that they needlessly worry about how their body will respond to the increased intake of calories. They think their muscles may start leaking out of the muscle fibers, or that they might get some horrible disease because they had a piece of cake.
Believe me when I say that it’s pretty much impossible to grow noticeably fat from just one meal. Your body is extremely good at regulating your weight and if you were to do this only once in a while your muscles would probably look a little more puffy the next day, but that’s about it.
5. Control your alcohol intake
A lot of people don’t drink beer or liquor on a regular basis, so when they do it goes straight to their head and the next thing you know they are stumbling around and making fools of themselves in public places. Alcohol is definitely very bad for your body, but as long as you are drinking infrequently and in moderation there is no reason to let it ruin your diet.
If you do go out with friends or co-workers for a couple of drinks from time to time I would suggest that you make sure to eat some food beforehand and then maybe drink some water while you’re at it, to avoid becoming too intoxicated.