What is a cheat meal and how can it help me reach my goals?
Why would I not stick to my meal plan everyday of the week?
Will I undo all my hard work in the gym and get fat?
I believe in the 90/10 rule to maintain sanity, but even more important, I use it as a fitness and lifestyle tool. When used correctly, cheat meals can be a great tool to help lean down or build muscle, depending upon your goals and what rules you put in place for your cheat meal. Cheat meals can reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for increased energy, and keep calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high.
Cheat Meals and Hormones:
Leptin: A protein mainly produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance in the body. It acts on the brain’s hypothalamus to suppress food intake and stimulate the use of energy, or calories. Leptin plays a key role in regulating body weight and fat mass through its stimulating effect on the brain. In fact, studies have shown that within 24 hours of fasting, leptin levels decrease to 30 percent of their normal value. But it doesn’t end with leptin. Ghrelin, a peptide hormone mainly produced by the stomach, is an appetite stimulant that signals the release of growth hormone. Low-calorie diets and chronic exercise have been shown to result in increased ghrelin concentrations, which may lead to increasing food intake and body weight. Since significant changes in the levels of leptin and ghrelin are seen after only 72 hours of a calorie-restricted diet. Weekly cheat meals that are higher in calories and carbohydrates can help raise leptin levels and lower ghrelin. This is important because the return of your hormone levels to normal can help reverse or even prevent any negative effects on metabolism, hunger drive, and energy expenditure. In addition, the increased calories will also help to increase thyroid function, further boosting metabolism.
Cheat Meal Tips:
The best way to cheat is to plan ahead! Remember that, while cheat meals are a meal replacement, they need to fit into your current eating regimen. Cheat meals allow you to satisfy cravings and give you a chance to loosen the reigns a bit, but they shouldn’t turn into cheat days. Cheat meals are for those that follow a meal plan and eat daily based on there activity level and goals. If you don’t know how many calories, carbs, fats, and protein you are taking in daily, then a cheat meal isn’t going to be as beneficial for you. Most likely you are already eating at a maintenance level or higher. Cheat meals or “TREAT MEALS” as I prefer to call them are about having balance with your foods. It’s about NOT eliminating all foods completely out of your life, for the rest of your life. Because that’s not going to happen lets be real, and extreme restriction is what causes people to diet hard, be overly restrictive, and then crack and eat everything in site and feel guilty. Treat meals are a way to enjoy a meal that is maybe less nutritious but even more delicious. The #1 MOST IMPORTANT thing after a cheat meal is to get right back on track with your normal healthy eating. Also remember this is 1 meal, not 1 day, or the whole weekend.