What about cheat meals?

I get this question all the time…

Stef, what is your favorite cheat meal? 

I immediately start sweating... should I just say the first deliciously disgusting meal that comes to my mind or should I be that annoying nerd that says “well, I don’t really cheat” and follows up with an explanation that will for sure extend beyond the time expected for a perceived simple question. 

There is a fundamental flaw when it comes to the concept of a cheat meal, as someone who has a history of being unfaithful on my diet plans, I can tell you for a fact there is a better way! 

So today we'll talk about why cheat meals are sabotaging your progress. 

Before getting the bread and butter of this video let me clarify some concepts…

A cheat meal is… a meal or day in which an excess of food resulting in an arbitrary always changing never-ending calorie surplus.  

A term coined by Fitness junkies in an attempt to regularly justify deviating from their diet plan under the premise that it keeps you away from starvation mode and helps reset your metabolism. 

What are we...tamagotchis with reset buttons or something?  Do you see how ridiculous it sounds? 

If you take a break from dieting and gain weight assuming you're trying to lose weight, is it really giving you a break or is it just setting you back? 

This term is not to be confused with refeed days or diet breaks. 

The difference is in the application. 

Refeed days are a strategic short-term overfeeding that focus on specific macronutrient targets and plan to surpass your current calorie intake during a fat loss faze.

The scientific reason why a day of higher calories is encouraged, it’s to bring about hunger harmony. 

There's two main players here, leptin which makes you feel full or after a meal and ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry when you haven't eaten.

These two hormones help you maintain your weight by stopping you from eating too much or too little.

When you are in calorie deficit for too long your body fat drugs your body responds by reducing the amount of leptin in your produce. In response ghrelin production goes up resulting in an increased feeling of hunger and a decreased feeling of satiety. 

Sucks Eh! Your body is literally conspiring against you and this is where it gets juicy! Are you ready? 

Cheat meals have a time and place especially for providing people with a mental break from heavily constructed meal plan,

However if you’re wanting to include refeed days or diet breaks into your diet the recommendation is to do so with an intelligent approach with properly constructed meals. 

A high-carb low-fat meal to boost leptin and suppress appetite. The reason being that a high-fat refeed day especially if goes above maintenance level is more likely to end up as fat storage. 

I don't like the term cheat meal at all. I cringe every time people use it.

I believe in a balanced approach that focuses on macro and micro nutrients and a flexible diet that allows you to indulge in a variety of foods without that feeling of guilt. 

This is what it looks like over a week. 

If you eat 1,500 calories per day and during the week and you have one cheat meal on Saturday and 1 on Sunday you're raising your daily average to above 2000 calories per day, for some that puts us at maintenance at maintenance or above maintenance calories preventing us from making progress. 

So there you have a guys and girls cheaters never win. Play by the rules and avoid overly restrictive diets.

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