Cheating Towards Success

Cheating Toward Success

Ten years ago I knew absolutely zero about the world of health and fitness.  In fact, I was 15 at the time, under muscled with low body fat.  I could virtually eat anything and still play 10 straight games of street ball.  Fast-forward to 2013, my athletic goals have changed 10 fold and my knowledge on this subject has spiked like eating a cup of rice post work out.  HAHA!  A dieting joke!  Ok I’m corny don’t hang me.

So what exactly do I mean by “cheat towards success!”?  I’m not referring to the use of anabolic steroids or some miracle drug.  I’m referencing scheduled “cheat meals” and how they’re extremely helpful when attempting to lose weight and drop body fat.  In this article I’ll show you how and why plus I’ll spare you the scientific jargon.

Cheat Meals and Fat Loss. GTFO!

So anyone who’s done a successful run with a good dieting protocol knows and understands why cheat meals or re-feeds are important.  The concept has grown over the last few years and rightfully so.  Proper cheats can:

  • Refill glycogen stores to support hard training
  • Recharge stagnant metabolism
  • Give an individual something to look forward to, which helps get through tougher days of restriction.
  • Fight potential catabolism from long diet protocol ie; dieting lasting more than 16 weeks.

The only issue here is people who want to implement this principal often abuse or even use it when it’s not necessary.  Hence why I advocate having a coach; ok sorry for the shameless plug lol I’m just saying.

Cheating 101

Bodybuilders seem to get it right when it comes to dieting.  Because for one, it’s their lifestyle and two, their entire goal is to look absolutely shredded come contest time.  What method do you think they use during the 20 or so weeks they diet for a 2-day half naked show your muscles contest?  Yes cheat meals!

But you’d ask, “How would this help a person that doesn’t want to be half naked? But only wants to look good naked?”  Well as a non-competitive lifter you’ll notice after having a cheat meal your energy goes through the roof.  You tear the gym in your next session and my personal favorite, VITALITY gets a boost.

How is this possible?

The cheat meal is packed with calories coming from all the macros:  carbs, fat, and protein.  These calories will give your metabolism a temporary boost.  If you’ve ever had a big cheat meal, you’ll know about the accompanying sweating.

The additional carbs will replenish muscle glycogen and the fat will fill out the muscle a bit too.  Then the elevated sodium will help with glycogen storage and water retention (both of which improve strength).

Add all these together and you’re in for an awesome diet and training boost, one that can take your progress to the next level… if properly implemented.

Follow the Signs

Cheat meals are great tools when used correctly, but used incorrectly they can derail progress in a major way.  When is it really time for a cheat meal?  Look for the following signs:

  • Your workouts are shitty on a regular basis – no pump, poor strength, lack of focus.
  • Your body temperature is starting to drop (you feel cold ALL the time).
  • Your fat loss has plateaued and lowering calories isn’t helping.
  • 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 the first week of dieting when you drop water and glycogen weight.

If one or more of these apply to you, a cheat meal is warranted.  If none of these apply to you, you probably don’t need a cheat meal, regardless of how much you may want one!

Master Your Cheat Meal

It’s a little more sophisticated than just “eat a bunch of crap,” but not by much.  When implementing a full-on cheat meal (as opposed to a carbohydrate re-feed), I typically use the following guidelines with my clients:

Have the cheat meal replace the last meal of that day.  This keeps you from extending the cheat and ruining a whole day of eating.

Keep it around 45 to 60 minutes.  Again, this keeps you from making it an all-out binge that will set back your progress rather than accelerating it.

If possible, have your cheat meal the night before you train a large (or weak) body part, like legs or back.  The additional glycogen and fullness will ensure that you have an awesome, powerful training session.  Some people like to have the cheat meal after a big training session in the hopes of aiding recovery.  That can work as well, but my preference is the night before.

Other than that, have whatever you want, as much as you want.

Sample Re-Feed

Full-on cheat meals are easy:  eat what you want within a limited timeframe.  A re-feed is a little cleaner.

A sample, carb-filled re-feed for a 200-pound male might look something like this:

  • 2 cups cooked rice (any kind is fine)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 pieces Ezekiel bread toast
  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 piece of fruit

Cheat Wisely

Cheat meals are frequently misunderstood and misapplied.  But use the guidelines here and you’ll be able to wisely harness the power of pizza in your next fat loss diet!

Onyx Truth Contributor:  Marcus Straker
photo credit:  Thomas Hawk

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