Cheat meals-the double edge sword. This is the meal you look forward to but also dread at the same time. Once the meal is over you automatically start thinking of what the physical outcomes is going to be. Here is the thing:
Cheat meals actually have benefits, here are a few:
- Speeds up metabolism
- For some, a boost in testosterone levels
- Restores glycogen
- Give your body something different to deal with and creates confusion
- There are also Re-Feeds
Refeeds seems to be the sexy industry word as of lately. We tend to see a bunch of garbage being thrown around social media claiming these high calorie meals are all refeeds aka cheat meals. You need to be careful before you just start taking back more calories and telling yourself ‘oh it’s okay, this will be my refeed’. The issue we have with this mindset is the individual is missing the point of the refeed. Do they really need it; will this benefit or hurt them?? With all this confusion around the refeed meal(s) let us try and break it down for you.
A REFEED is a period of higher caloric intake, typically coming from CARBS and FATS when one is in a caloric deficit.
HOW LONG DO REFEEDS LAST?
Refeeds can last for a few hours up to a day or more depending on the individual.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN I REQUIRE ONE?
This is a very important aspect, when does one need a refeed meal or day. There is no simple answer, it varies based on the individual, and some may need to refeed more frequently. Each individual needs to study how their body reacts and adapts to certain caloric intakes and routines and can make a more informed decision from that point.
Here are some typical signs that you may require a refeed:
- loss of focus
- constantly hungry
- muscles flat, won’t hold much of a pump
- workouts lack intensity, drop in strength
SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND
DO NOT just refeed because you have become lazy with your diet. Refeeding serves the purpose to raise leptin levels, metabolic rate, testosterone and dopamine. Strategic refeeds will help you lose additional weight when you have hit a plateau. DO NOT refeed as much as that athlete you follow on social media just because!! Everyone refeeds at different rates. Take the time to study your body and adjust accordingly. You will get a hang of it and be able to truly feel when your body NEEDS a refeed if you give it the time.
Personal Goals Must be Kept in Mind
Someone below 10% body fat can get away with more cheat meals per week then those higher into the 20’s. I would recommend that if you have a certain goal then stick it through and get to where you want to be before you start setting aside cheat meal days. Re-feeds are a better option at this point for those dropping fat. Once you are where you want to be it is always easier to handle that cheat meal.
The Psychological Aspect
Many people include cheat meals to deal with cravings, emotions, just life in general. Having a certain day where you can have a cheat meal tends to keep others in line during the week with their diet making this tactic beneficial to them. A proper cheat meal will not ruin your diet, it is one meal- the psychological part is what can be the killer. Are you mentally strong enough to limit yourself to just one meal that day?? Or will it continue on for a few days? Once the mental aspects of cheat meals are conquered it becomes smooth sailing when dealing with these meals.
- Use that cheat meal as an energy source hours before your workout
- Use the meal for post-workout refueling
- There are always healthier versions of meals that taste just as good
- Remember your usually daily caloric intake, stay in the ballpark- not go 2-3X usual amount
- Relax and Enjoy it!
- Eat well, drink well and smile while doing it!