Cheat Meals

Very often I get asked for cheat meals.

Let’s find out how good- bad – ugly they are.

First and foremost what are Cheat Meals ?

For most people on a fat loss journey, a cheat day is a high calorie day. Mostly they keep food items they avoid during the dieting days saved for cheat meals/days.

Cheat days/meals are completely different from Calorie cycling or diet breaks.

As soon as many start their diet they also latch on to the word “cheat meal”
*eye rolls*

The real scenario that happens with this is people  ‘stop’ dieting and eat and drink anything and everything with reckless abandon.

Many also proclaim that a cheat meal helps with fat loss as it helps push the metabolism up, there is not enough research to support the above. The average increase in metabolic rate is somewhere between 3-10% and this effect only lasts for up to 24 hours.

They also claim that helps improve the Leptin levels – A hormone That Regulates Body Weight or the “satiety hormone“. This too will drop once you resume eating in deficit.

The first thing about Cheat meals is the word – Cheat, a very negative association. If you’re trying to create healthy eating habits, words such as ‘cheat’ shouldn’t be a part of your vocabulary.

It also implies that you are doing something that you don’t like, instead of it being a day where you can include food items which you don’t have during the week, in moderation, add a few more calories, to feel better, to help sustainability with the diet, improve training. It becomes more like i am going to eat as much as i can stuff in my mouth. That washes away all the efforts one has done during the week and the calories level up to maintenance or go into surplus with that one day of mindless hog.

A sizable percentage of people also end up taking the entire week to lose what they put on with cheat days during the weekend, getting them back to square one with their progress.

Your diet has to be extremely restricted if you look forward to cheat meals/days.

The correct term in my opinion should be – Re feed day/ meal

How you approach it :

1. Keep the calories around your maintenance for that day.

2. Keep the protein as it is

3. Increase the carbs, well that would be easy 🙂 . Carbs are more unlikely to get stored as fat than dietary fat in a surplus. Carbs seem to have more of an effect on the cortisol-related water retention that so often comes along with dieting. So by increasing calories (and carbs), you may find a drop in water retention that often ‘masks‘ fat loss. This is why you often find yourself leaner (and lighter on the scale) the day after eating more calories.

4. Another option is to keep the protein as it is and just eat in a calorie limit for that day.

How often one needs a re-feed depends on various factors- Current body composition, adherence with the diet post a cheat meal, many people lose the grip on their diet if the cheat meals are too often.

Before i scoot, re-feeds, if abused, specially if you drink and have high fat snacks along is going to make you end up in surplus and gain weight, of course, the world will not end with that, but it will slow down your progress.

Written by : Nitu Bajwa

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