Dieting and counting your calories doesn’t have to mean depriving your body (and your mind) of the things you are craving. In fact, even if you’re training for an upcoming event, a cheat day—a day or a meal you set aside to relax your food rules with your daily diet —can actually be a good thing, and actually help you shed more fat. Here are our tips to make the most of a cheat day to help keep you on track with your competition goals:
If you strictly follow a low-calorie, low-carb diet for a prolonged period of time, your body can actually start to make up for the lower intake by burning fewer calories. This will actually inhibit your goals. Incorporating a cheat meal in controlled increments will give your metabolism a boost and keep your body working towards your body-weight or training goal.
Cheat days help stimulate the leptin levels in the body; an important hormone secreted by fat cells which helps regulate your energy levels. When your leptin levels have reached an optimal point, they signal to your body that you’re full. On the other hand, when these levels drop, your body’s hunger signals for will spike dramatically, which can result in overeating or binging. This makes it important not to restrict calorie intake too much over a prolonged period of time—you could actually be setting yourself up for failure. A cheat meal every so often is a good way to maintain a balance in your leptin levels so your body doesn’t fall into binging mode.
Reward yourself for all your hard work. While you don’t have to go crazy, maybe have that slice of pizza you’ve been craving all week as you eat your skinless chicken and broccoli—but get back in the gym tomorrow! Generally, best practice is to schedule a cheat meal of 500-800 calories every 7-10 days, depending on your size.
Birthdays, weddings, family reunions—you don’t want to be “that guy” or “that girl” bringing your two afternoon meals of chicken and egg whites in Tupperware to the family barbeque. This is the perfect opportunity to use a cheat meal. Go ahead and enjoy a burger and some of Mom’s famous potato salad, just eat right the rest of the day and get back on track tomorrow.
Just because you’ve allowed yourself a cheat meal, doesn’t mean you get a hall pass to clear out the buffet and gorge on drinks all night. There are meals that are a “treat” but still provide benefits, like protein, vitamins and minerals. Consider a juicy steak, a burger topped with guacamole, thin-crust pizza loaded with chicken and veggies, zucchini noddles spaghetti (aka “zoodles”) and meatballs, etc.
Don’t fall victim to the guilt of binging—that feeling when you realize you’ve let yourself down after all that hard work. One cheat meal—or even a cheat day—isn’t a reason to let yourself completely fall off the healthy eating wagon. Just make sure you respect your body and get back to your routine.
Again, a cheat meal can actually be a good thing in your event-prep regime, as long as you’re still following a strict regime the rest of the time. For optimal results, many fitness competition regimes will consist of eating 5-6 meals per day while controlling the amounts of calories and fats you’re consuming, increasing your protein intake, and maintaining a training regime of cardio and strength.
You can also try incorporating amino-acid supplements like BodyHealth’s PerfectAmino™ to help boost your results when combined with effective diet and training.*
PerfectAmino contains the eight essential amino acids that help support and maintain your body’s muscular system when combined with healthy diet and exercise.*
PerfectAmino is an all-natural amino-acid supplement that provides the exact balance of amino acids your body needs to perform at a maximum level. With up to 99% of it available to help your body grow, build, repair, and heal, PerfectAmino is a valiant partner in health whether you indulge in cheat days or not.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.