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Take the shackles off your diet every once in a while

Cheat smart

Take the shackles off your diet every once in a while

A well-structured cheat meal can help you surmount weight-loss plateaus and help you maintain your sanity when you are on a diet.

Our bodies don’t want to change and weight-loss plateaus are expected as you try to lose weight and lean out for a bodybuilding show. Losing weight also becomes harder the closer you get to your target weight.

Cheat meals work well when you structure them carefully. Cheat meals are known for resetting hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for harder training sessions in the gym and keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms at optimal levels.

You have to pick your slip-ups wisely though and implement them after several days of consuming fewer calories than you burn in the gym.

“…if you plan your cheat meal you will also know what you will be eating and you can then cut a few extra calories earlier in the day to compensate for the cheat meal…”

Cheat meals can rev up your metabolism for your next workout but should not be an excuse to binge uncontrollably as you cannot out-eat your workouts. A caloric deficit is important if you really want to lose weight. A good rule of thumb is to consume high protein and carbohydrates on your hardest day of exercise in the week.

One of the simplest ways to cheat is to plan a cheat meal once a week. If you plan your cheat meal you will also know what you will be eating and you can then cut a few extra calories earlier in the day to compensate for the cheat meal.

You can only do this when you have self-control and you are determined to reach your weight-loss objectives. Another option is to enjoy a cheat day where you are allowed to eat whatever you want for an entire day. This is only for those who can stick to healthier meal plans for the rest of the week.

When you have been dieting for a prolonged period low leptin could become an issue. Leptin is  the “satiety hormone,” that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. When your body is in a calorie deficit leptin drops. The opposite happens when your body senses a calorie surplus. Leptin gets boosted which leads to fat oxidation. Cheat meals can, therefore, be beneficial.

Also remember the following:

  • Weight-loss goals are reached when more calories are burned than what you consume
  • Focus on nutrient-rich calories
  • Don’t out-cheat your workouts because they will then only end up as time wasted
  • Cheat meals will keep your metabolism humming without hitting weight-loss plateaus
  • Don’t approach a cheat day in a deprived mindset. Plan a cheat day properly
  • Reduce your meal frequency as much as you can or reduce your calorie intake on your cheat day
  • Drink coffee or eat fibrous vegetables if your hunger pangs get out of control
  • If you follow your diet religiously you won’t gain weight after eating one cheat meal
  • Make sure you eat one high-quality, high-protein meal before you cheat with high-fiber vegetables to slow down your digestion because it maximises satiety for the lowest amount of calories. A green salad with a chicken breast and a squeeze of lemon, for example, would be an ideal pre-cheat meal

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