Cheat meals, a dispensable temptation or a necessity? The dilemma ensues for anyone who is chasing muscle anabolism with utmost dedication.
For someone eating clean, pumping iron and counting reps and sets, day in and day out, cheat meals come as a trap. Something that they look forward to, as it breaks the boredom of pristine nutrition, albeit with a twinge of guilt. Get the guilt out of sight, because cheat meals are required for muscular folks on anabolism trail. There is a method to cheat, but first the basics.
DO YOU NEED A CHEAT MEAL
Before you sink your teeth in the luxury of a cheat meal, assess for yourself.
- Feeling cold all the time
- Stuck on a weight loss plateau
- Trapped in less than average workouts
- Lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time
If you’ve any or all of these symptoms, a cheat meal will help you reset your metabolism, refill glycogen reserve and regulate insulin.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WITH CHEAT MEAL
If you’re serious about carving an awesome physique, you can’t discount the role of diet. However, strict dieting can be callous and catabolic, and even upset the leptin-ghrelin duo. A cheat meal can offer a way out from the weight loss plateau.
1. OFFSET SLOW METABOLISM
Extreme diet required during the run-up to competitions and events can slow your metabolism. When you consistently eat fewer calories, your body slows metabolism in the last ditch effort to spare the calories it is gaining from the limited intake of food.
A weekly cheat meal of surplus calories ensures your body that the food is plentiful with the secretion of leptin hormone. When leptin kicks in your body begins to use fat for energy by improving metabolism, rather holding on to it.
2. MOVE TO AN ANABOLIC STATE
Moreover, as much as you dislike, the continuous limited intake of food in a strict diet is a starvation signal for your body and it responds by sparing the fat and burning your hard-earned muscle for fuel, a situation where you would not like to be in at all.
As your metabolism improves with a weekly cheat meal, your body switches to fat as a source of fuel, thereby moving you into an anabolic state.
Most importantly, strict dieting upsets your leptin-ghrelin balance. Leptin is the satiety hormone that your body releases after a satiating meal to signal your brain to work the energy it has acquired with the recent intake of the food. Leptin levels are naturally low in leaner folks. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. A long-term low-calorie diet and chronic exercise has been shown to increase the ghrelin levels. This leads to increase in food intake and body weight.
Within 72 hours of calorie restricted diet, significant changes occur in the leptin-ghrelin levels. A once- a- week cheat meal assures your body that there is enough food it doesn’t need to hold on to the energy reserves. Consequently, leptin the satiety hormone kicks in and ghrelin goes down, thereby making metabolism amends.
3. REFILL GLYCOGEN STORES
Glycogen is the longer chain version of glucose. Stored in your muscles, it is the primary fuel used by the muscles for work-out. Extreme dieting and workout can dry your glycogen reserve. The carb content in the cheat meal is the shortcut to replenish the muscle glycogen, much needed for that bang in your workouts.
THE GOOD CHEAT MEAL
Wolfing down anything or everything in sight is not the idea of a cheat meal. Like discussed earlier there is a method to it.
1 Sugar-laden treats, foods with poor nutrients are best left untouched in a cheat meal because you do not want to spoil a week’s hard work by giving in to a temptation. A good cheat meal incorporates foods that are rich in protein and carbs with limited fats. The calorie content will, of course, exceed your normal intake. Two slices of pizza with meat and veggies as toppings, cheeseburger, a helping of pasta or noodles with meat for protein qualify as good cheat meals.
2 Equally important is the timing of a cheat meal. Dinner is a preferable time because it’s the last meal of the day; hence, there is no scope for limitless munching throughout the day.
3 Moreover, fasting on a cheat day is not such a good idea after all, because chances to over indulge increase on an empty stomach.
It’s equally important, to be honest with your coach about your cheat meals. Watch out for intense food cravings. They may signal macronutrient deficiency. Plan your cheat meals in advance and make the most of these much looked forward to meals.