Are Cheat Meals Once A Week Your Friend Or Foe?
Cheat days and cheat meals are a fairly common strategy with the fitness crowd. Bodybuilders, athletes, models, and fitness enthusiasts often practice this “cheat” system where they allow themselves untracked and unregulated caloric intake.
This means at least for one meal a week they give themselves free license to consume whatever they want, guilt-free and with complete disregard for their regular dietary restrictions.
On the surface, the cheat meal seems like a rather simple premise, but in reality, it is a relatively complex subject.
Are cheat meals a friend or foe to fat loss? Read on to find out.
There are plenty of people who support and recommend participating in this practice and some who say it is dangerous and even counterproductive towards fat loss.
Those who support cheat meals say it provides benefits to metabolic health and it gives a sort of psychological leeway that alleviates the stresses of strict dieting, but it is this same mental aspect some people say presents specific risks.
When most people start a fitness plan, often the first thing they adjust is their caloric intake. Most people looking to lose weight will turn to some version of a diet alongside a workout routine to expedite the weight loss progress.
Playing around with your caloric intake
While most diets require a severe reduction in total calories consumed which leads to an initial net weight loss, this weight loss often hits a wall as the body gradually adjusts to this reduced level of caloric input and slows down metabolic functions.
The thinking goes that a cheat meal can kick-start your metabolism back up and so fire up the calorie burning engine again allowing for weight loss can be maintained.
Psychologically speaking, many people find it extremely difficult to stick to a reduced calorie plan if no end in sight is to be seen.
The assumption is if the promise of a treat is present, people will have a stronger will and be able to hold off on temptation during the week.
You need the discipline for a diet
We all know dieting takes control and I am here to tell you if you decide to participate in a cheat meal system, then you must approach your cheats with the same discipline you apply to adhering to your diet.
Often people lose control when presented with their favourite foods after so many days of abstaining from them. If you allow your cheat meal to turn into a cheat weekend, you will be doing yourself no favours, and in fact, you will be pushing your progress back.
If you are not strong-willed enough, a cheat meal might do more harm than good, so assess yourself and be honest before attempting to cheat.
What about the psychological side of eating your cheat meals?
Some have even stipulated that cheat day and cheat meals produce an unhealthy psychological association with food that could potentially lead to eating disorders since many people begin to associate food with guilt.
The science behind hunger cravings and your cheat meals
Let us talk science for a second. There are two hormones that are primarily in charge of regulating hunger; these are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, which is chiefly secreted within fat cells and stomach tissue is in charge of decreasing hunger. Ghrelin is secreted in the stomach and is control of increasing the sensation of hunger.
These hormones are intrinsically related to the amount of food that is ingested. This means that leptin levels will drop after extended periods of reduced calories and make losing weight more difficult.
What good can your cheat meals have on your body?
A Cheat meal can boost leptin production back up to more acceptable levels so that continued weight loss can be maintained. It is important to note that this hormonal balancing act will only take effect when caloric reduction has been significant and continuous.
If your diet is not that strict, a cheat meal will probably make losing weight harder in the long run. Another potential benefit of a cheat meal is that it can provide a way to recharge glycogen stores that are sure to have been depleted after an extended period of reduced caloric intake.
A routine you should adopt when it comes to cheat meals
I recommend you hold on starting on a cheat meal approach for at least a few weeks of continued exercise and diet so you give your body time enough to acclimate to your new caloric consumption.
Ideally, you will only need to cheat once per week, and it is vital to maintain a clear head and think of this as a sort of indulgence; if you feel you can go about your diet without needing a cheat meal, then it is just not necessary.
The cheat meal system can provide tangible benefits, especially for those people that struggle with keeping up with reduced caloric consumption over extended periods of time.
Think of the cheat meal as an aid and not as a means to an end. The end goal is weight loss and reduced fat levels and not a juicy hamburger. Be sensible with your cheat meals and reap the benefits.
Have you considered adding a multivitamin?
A perfect way to a strict dietary regime and give yourself some leeway when it comes to consuming cheat meals is to take a daily multivitamin such MULTIVITA REVOLUTION.
This multivitamin has been carefully dosed with a full spectrum of micronutrients to optimise your fitness and overall health. MULTIVITA REVOLUTION has been formulated to include essential phytonutrients from the entire fruit and grain complex.
The experts at MUSCLESPORT have also made sure to include a potent blend of dedicated digestive enzymes so that your body is better able to absorb all the benefits of this fantastic product.
MULTIVITA also comes dosed with an antioxidant complex of MSM, green tea, and grape seed extracts to stop oxidative and inflammatory stress caused by free radicals. No better product to synergise with a full-time diet than MULTIVITA REVOLUTION.
- Penney, Stacey, C. E. S. NASM-CPT, and FNS PES. “Do cheat meals make diet sense?.”
- Wing, Rena R., and Suzanne Phelan. “Long-term weight loss maintenance.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 82.1 (2005): 222S-225S.
- Van Itallie, Theodore B., and Mei-Uih Yang. “Diet and weight loss.” New England Journal of Medicine 297.21 (1977): 1158-1161.
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