** This is a repost of an old blog from April 2013 **
At the time, this was my most-read post, but since then, I’ve gained a fair few FB followers, and e-book downloaders, so I thought “hey, why not make a 2014 version of this?!”
Unlike some of my other older posts, I still fully agree with everything written here.
And actually, this blog was the initial driving force behind “The Fool Proof No-Fail Guide to Flexible Fat Loss” as I 100% believe that “cheating” on a diet is a pretty awful approach to take, and that actually, including foods you enjoy in your diet certainly isn’t a sin. In fact, it will give you BETTER, FASTER Results.
Want to read more? Check out
Here’s the article………….
If you’re a wannabe meathead like me, or misspent hours as a teenager reading Flex magazine in your room rather than going out drinking and chasing members of the opposite sex, you’re no doubt about as excited about the release of bodybuilding-based movie “Pain and Gain” as a turkey is at the prospect of getting through the holiday season unscathed.
This is no movie blog, so I won’t go into detail on plot lines, editing, the soundtrack, or all that jazz, but here’s the synopsis ripped from IMDB –
“A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.”
Sounds pretty cool, but I’m not here to discuss that. I’m here to talk about this –
Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?
A few months back, this picture and the story that goes with it went viral.
To play a bodybuilder realistically, The Rock (or Dwayne Johnson, but I’m gunna call him The Rock as an homage to his wrestling days) had to go from being in great shape to freaking awesome shape. To do this he followed a “clean” diet for months on end. I’m guessing this meant typical bodybuilding fare — egg whites, grilled chicken breast, oats, veggies, sweet potatoes and extra lean beef. No sauces or condiments, processed foods, sugars, dairy, or any of the fun stuff like that, just plain old “clean” food.
To reward himself for following said diet for months on end, he gorged on –
– 12 pancakes
– 4 double dough pepperoni pizzas
– 21 brownies with a giant jug of milk
Basically, he binged on crap food.
This Approach Sucks
I’m probably being harsh here. There’s a lot of science behind cheat meals working for fat loss in terms of their metabolism-boosting benefits, giving you a psychological break from dieting and boosting your glycogen levels to give you a strength boost in your sessions.
Sounds good right?
I still hate this approach. Here’s why –
Engaging in cheat meals means you buy into the mantra that some foods are “clean” and okay to eat, while others are “dirty” and can’t be consumed at all without a negative impact on your physique.
This is simply ludicrous. It makes no difference to your body composition whether your carbs come from wheat bread or white and you won’t suddenly stop burning fat because you ate pretzels instead of your regular bowl of oats. Likewise you can eat a whole load of quote-unquote clean foods like meat, fish, nuts and veggies and still gain fat.
Categorizing foods into just good or bad can lead to a seriously unhealthy relationship with food.
To read more on why clean eating is farcical, have a take a look at the following –
Your metabolism is a precious thing.
It needs care, love and attention. By throwing a huge amount of calories, carbs and fat at it in one sitting, you’re seriously abusing it. Let’s look at a typical example of a female client, weighing 140 pounds dieting for fat loss.
Six days of the week, her macros may look something like –
On Sunday, she thinks “Hey, I’ve been great all week and my metabolism needs a boost, I’ll ramp up my carbs and give everything a kickstart. Gotta get those leptin levels back up and start Monday with plenty of energy. It’s cheat meal o’clock,”
A few hours later and that small cheat meal has turned into
100g protein (lower due to less need for protein when carbs are elevated)
A bazillion calories (almost)
Suddenly, her metabolism is screaming “WTF! You’ve just trebled my calorie intake, what am I supposed to do now? Yeah, I was running a little low before, but Jesus woman, what are you doing to me? Right, I can’t possibly get through all of this, I’m sending these calories to your fat cells – I hear they’ve got some room to spare.”
Boom — fat gain.
Don’t kid yourself, you can gain a significant amount of fat from one huge unrestricted cheat meal or day. Not only that, but you seriously screw with your metabolism. It takes more than one blowout to inflict metabolic damage on yourself, but you do have to be careful. Mistreat your metabolism and you’re on a steep downward path to kissing goodbye to leanness forever.
I used to absolutely love my cheat meals. For 13 and a half days every fortnight, I ate sooooo clean you’d think I’d disinfected my food. Grilled meats, grassfed butter, veggies, berries, organic eggs, you name a clean food, I ate it. At around 2,200 calories each day I was losing fat steadily. Then once a fortnight on a Sunday afternoon I would go all out and cram in as much food as I could.
While I didn’t quite rival the rock, my “PR” for a cheat meal was 8,500 calories worth of Dominoes pizza, Ben and Jerry’s, Frijj milkshakes, whole milk, cookies and homemade cake. It was delicious, but I did end up in a sugar coma.
Then on my last birthday, I decided that after months of strict dieting, I’d let myself go. 3 days (and one all you can eat Chinese buffet, 4 tubs of B&J (can you see my weakness now?) an Indian meal, cooked breakfasts, some beers and several slices of various birthday cakes) later I sent an email to my coach Layne Norton –
“I screwed up. I’m up 12 pounds, so bloated I look like I’m 8 months pregnant, I have cankles and am sweating like a fat bitch, what happened?”
I received a stern reply telling me that while Layne had seen worse, we needed to get back on the plan ASAP.
It took two weeks to get that bloat off and I had horrendous feelings of guilt afterwards.
It was at that point I realised
Cheat Meals Don’t Work.
Shit food tastes good, but that feeling when you’re curled up on the floor in the foetal position following a binge is certainly not good.
They just encourage disordered eating. Here’s what I do instead
So what if you eat some ice cream a few times a week, decide to get a footlong from Subway for lunch rather than make your own whole-grain turkey breast sandwich or grab a Poptart instead of an apple.
It really does come down to calories and macronutrients, not the “types” of food you eat.
A few times a week, I have a tub of ice cream, go out for dinner and have something not too healthy or have popcorn post-workout. The key is to still hit your macronutrient goals and to regulate portion sizes. By still meeting your carb/fat/calorie targets and allowing yourself some naughty foods, you have a far healthier relationship with dieting.
You do need a bit of a boost when dieting, but refeeds work far, far better than cheats.
Once every 3 to 4 days, increase your carb by 50% and lower your protein and fat by 10% each. This simple, moderated approach is enough to boost leptin, kickstart your metabolism and refill your glycogen stores. All the gain of a cheat meal, but none of the pain.
For more on re-feeds, check out THIS ARTICLE I wrote for EliteFTS.
Say goodbye to feelings of guilt, massive food babies and the pain of cheat meals. Embrace your new-found moderation mentality and the joy of eating a bit of what you fancy every single day.
The Rock may know his peoples’ elbow from his crippler crossface, but I’ll still take him on it a dieting war.
Now got your copy of the Flexible Fat Loss Home Study Course yet? – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/flexible-fat-loss/Tags: cheat meal, fat loss, fat loss myths, IIFYM, metabolism, nutrition, pain and gain, the rock
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