Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why Cheat Meals are good for your Metabolism

As a serious and strict competitive dieter and athlete you probably follow a very strict dietary regimen. Ninety-nine percent of the time this is what you want to do in order to achieve great results with your body. For athlete and competition dieting you have to be ultra-strict and follow your plan. However, I know that having planned cheats in your prep process can have tremendous value. Here are several reasons why:
  • Metabolic boost.
  • Fueling up your glycogen from a depleted body.
As a human being, your metabolism will always try and adapt to what you are doing to your body. If your calories drop each week then your body will eventually learn to live on less. This is why we are still walking this planet. Our bodies have this wonderful ability to adapt and move toward homeostasis, always striving to stay alive and create some kind of balance. As you get four, five and six weeks into a dieting plan, your body is now starting to try and figure out what you are doing most of the time. So throwing in a planned cheat each week can go along ways into tricking your body and your metabolism into thinking that you are getting more calories and nutrients than it really is regularly. The net result is that a good cheat meal can, in these times, help bump up your metabolism. You can tell this is happening actually as you eat your cheat meal. Most people during this phase of dieting will notice that as  they eat their cheat meals they break out in a sweat and get real hot. As a flood of nutrients hit your body’s energy systems, your body reacts quickly and can now regulate temperature better. Often times, your core temperature goes up enough, releasing more heat than normal and you sweat. This is your metabolism kicking up to accommodate for the extra calories.

The key to a great cheat meal is that it still has some sort of quality carbohydrate or protein in it. Sure, a bowl of ice cream or something like that is all fine and dandy. But if you are looking to get the most out of your cheat meal, you should consume something high in carbohydrates and protein. Something like 2-3 slices of sausage pizza is a great example of this.

Let me first break down some different types of cheat meals/days people have them and go from there…

The Two Most Common Types of Cheats:

• The One Meal Cheat – This is the cheat meal where someone only cheats for one meal only. This would be my recommended way to have a cheat meal. You don’t want to get into the habit of cheating too often. It can cause a domino effect and possibly throw away all of your hard work from the previous week!

• The All Day Cheat – This is usually done less often, but it is where for an entire day you are allowed to become a pig. Most people who use this as a cheat make sure to have cheat days less often. This is actually something I am fine with, as long as you have only one of these every 2-3 months. I still would prefer that you stick to one cheat meal every couple of weeks though.

When Should I Use Cheat Meals?

Cheat meals should be used when you want to re-carb up and refill your glycogen stores. This is especially important for athletes. Honestly, the best time to do it is directly after a competition or your biggest training day of the week. The reason is because all of your focus and energy went into that. So, you’re not necessarily entitled to a cheat meal, but it is a good time to take a little break from the grind of your diet.

Another great time to utilize a cheat meal is when you have had multiple bad workouts in a row. This doesn’t seem logical though, does it? I have 3-4 bad workouts in a row and you WANT me to eat junk food? Chances are that your body is pretty depleted and/or starving for some vital nutrients. This doesn’t mean that you can blame every bad workout on being too disciplined. You are most likely a serious athlete and should use your absolute best judgment when you are legitimately rundown and when you just had an off day.

The Science Behind It

Implementing a cheat meal also ensures that you keep your metabolism up running on full blast. It can “reboot” your metabolism or give your metabolism a big kick-start. The key to all of this is a hormone called Leptin. Leptin plays a key role in energy expenditure and regulating energy intake. Leptin is actually an anti-starvation hormone, so we can use it to our advantage! Numerous studies have shown that fasting (or following a very low calorie diet) lowers leptin levels. 
If we don’t cheat every so often in our diet, our leptin levels will continue to rise. This is most likely going to cause us to go on a huge binge anyway. As you can see, there is a big relationship between lowered leptin levels and increased food intake. The key to my Cheat Meal Program is to make sure your leptin levels are low BEFORE you cheat. That way, you can cause a spike in your leptin levels AFTER your cheat meal.


Pearson, Owen. (October, 2011). Importance of Cheat Meals in a Diet.

Burton, Ray. Keep A Cheat Day From Being A Binge Day.

Smith, Jimmy. (April, 2010). Cheat Your Heart Out: Eat What You Want And Lose Fat.

The Science Behind Obesity.


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  2. Wow!You got spectacular muscles!From now I'll also begin to have Cheat meals and follow your way.Can you provide me some guidelines?I was foolishly running behind of getting crossfit sneakers and else until now.

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