Today, the blog is being taken over By Jason Maxwell.
Take it away Jason …
Cheat days can be your friend or your foe. It all depends on how you approach them. For my friend Matt, they were his foe.
Matt used to tell me –
“I can follow a strict diet plan no problem, my only rule is that I need to have one cheat day per week.”
Here’s how it worked for him.
He’d be super strict for 6 days per week; flawless in the execution of his diet. Meat and vegetables with every meal. Carbs after his workouts and in the evening. Eating well below his maintenance calories in order to lose fat. Using this approach, he’d lose a good 1-2 lbs in only 6 days.
Then, it was that time of the week: cheat day.
On this day, Matt would take a full 180 and turn into a fucking garbage disposal. He was basically following the See-Food Diet: “I see food, I eat it”. It wouldn’t even matter what it was. Peanut butter, soda crackers, baby food, it wouldn’t matter; he’d just eat everything in site. It was ridiculous.
He’d weigh himself and discover that he gained 3-5lbs over his cheat day. “It’s mostly water,” Matt would tell him in a whiny voice.
Yes, it was mostly water, but there were a good 1-2lbs of fat gained too. The next 6 days, Matt would be super strict, lose 1-2lbs, and then repeat the endless cycle. In 2 years, Matt stayed 210lbs at 5’10 using this approach (this wasn’t a lean 210lbs either).
This is a vicious cycle that many people are trapped in.
They feel like they need that cheat day, but then it hinders their progress. To be honest, I only recommend cheat days for people who are very lean (under 10%), and I’ll only recommend one every couple of weeks. If you want to enjoy all of your favorite foods, a cheat day doesn’t necessarily be the method to accomplish this. You can easily do this via flexible dieting.
With that being said, some people just prefer a day of all out binging. I get it. On top of this, the holidays are around the corner, and you shouldn’t suffer. Here’s my approach for the ultimate cheat day damage control.
Let’s say you have a massive holiday feast to attend, and you plan to do some damage. In order to limit the damage, you want to do two things: limit your calories, and perform a full body workout.
In order to limit your calories, the only food you are going to eat that day is your holiday feast.
If you can make it to the feast without eating any calories, then you’re golden. In order to do this, you’ll obviously be fasting until the meal. During your fast, drink sparkling water to help your stomach feel full. When it comes to the meal, fill up first on protein and vegetables. This will help you feel fuller without eating a ton of calories.
After this, anything is fair game.
Enjoy yourself, but only eat something if you truly want it. Don’t just eat it if it’s there in front of you and it tastes like crap. This covered the eating strategy.
The goal of this workout is to deplete glycogen stores in every big muscle group. You see, when you eat carbs (while overeating), they are stored as glycogen in your muscles. If your muscles are already full of glycogen, then the carbs have nowhere else to go besides being converted to fat. Your goal is to limit as much fat storage as possible.
In order to deplete glycogen, you can’t beat the old school 8×8 routine. Perform 8 sets of 8 reps for each muscle group, resting 60 seconds in between. You could use this method on the following exercises:
-Chest supported row
Yes, it’s a huge, long, workout, but it’ll work. Make sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after the workout.
When you finally sit down for your holiday feast, you’ll be ravenously hungry (and possibly even hangry), but the nutrients will be going towards the right place.
The day after the feast, you have a few options:
-Get back on your original plan.
-Only eat if you are hungry.
While both of these methods are great, I prefer using the second approach.
Listen to your body. Oftentimes, if you ate too much yesterday, then you won’t be as hungry today. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, we ate too much and we have ample energy today! Let’s take it easy, ok?”
Your answer should be, “ok, we’ll take it easy and only eat if we’re hungry.”
When you do eat, protein and veggies is a solid choice. If you have a leftover slice of apple pie, this is fine too. It’s the holidays after all.
In closing, you need to decide if a cheat day is something you really need (first and foremost). If this is the route you choose to go (especially during the holiday season), then make sure to do the following:
-Only eat 1 large holiday meal with family and friends
-Drink sparkling water up until the meal
-Perform a full body muscle depletion workout sometime before your meal. Old school 8×8 works great here.
-Fill up on lean protein and veggies once you start eating. Afterward, there are no rules
-The next day, listen to your body. If you’re not hungry, then you don’t need to eat a lot of food.
The method is strict, but it’ll help you from destroying your diet over the holidays.
Jason Maxwell is a Rocket Scientist turned Fitness Professional. Because of this, he appreciates the science of helping people get jacked and lean.
Here are 4 things you should know about him:
1. He graduated Top 3 in his class with a Bachelor of Engineering.
2. He is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and Functional Movement Systems.
3. He has a Master’s level nutrition certification.
4. He knows how to get results based on science and its applications.
You can reach him at www.jmaxfitness.com
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