Pizza, burgers, frozen yogurt and candy... They all sound amazing, but you don't allow yourself to ever eat any of it. Why? Because you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight. Well, what if you can have a cheat meal and still lose weight? Does it sound too good to be true? Not quite, as managing cheat meals is actually a great way to boost your metabolism and get over plateaus.
Mentally: More often than not, you’re making a lifestyle change. You are deciding to turn over a new leaf and make healthier choices in life and eat better. It’s not just some kind of fad that you are going to only stick with for a few weeks, it’s a new lifestyle you want to stick with forever. In this case, nobody expects you to eat clean 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most people decide to have a cheat meal once a week. Instead of having their last meal as they normally do, they swap it out for a cheat. Now don't go overboard and turn a cheat meal into a cheat day. You will put your body into shock and regret it almost instantly. Try and keep your cheat meals on the same day every week. This makes it easy to look forward to something at the end of every week. Also, it helps refuel and refocus your mind to get ready for another kick ass week, both in and out of the gym.
Hormonally: Your body is made up of all different types of hormones. The two I am going to talk about play a huge role in affecting your appetite.
- Leptin is a protein created in the body (by fatty tissue) that controls your appetite, energy and expenditure. The longer your body is in a calorie deficit, the lower your leptin levels are and your metabolism slows down. This makes it hard to shed those last few pounds. With this being said, it’s much needed to incorporate a good cheat meal or a re-feed to help restore your leptin levels. I like to make sure that I schedule to train legs the day after a cheat meal or re-feed. With all the extra calories from a cheat meal, why not put them to good use and go have an awesome leg day. Energy levels will be super high and you'll be able to lift hard and heavy.
- Ghrelin is an enzyme made in the stomach that controls your appetite. It is also known as the "hunger hormone." While dieting, your body is taking in a fewer amount of calories and with the stress of exercising, your body will create more ghrelin. This will cause the brain to feel hungry and it will cause more cravings than usual. Weekly cheat meals will help subside those cravings and help you get back on track for another week of goals you have set for yourself. Don't be afraid to have a cheat meal, but don't go overboard. You don't want to lose all the progress you have made (remember there is always next week for another cheat). Train like a Beast, enjoy a great cheat meal and set new goals for the week ahead.