If you’ve ever been on a diet you know that cheat meals are a God send. There is nothing like that first bite of a greasy pizza after a week of lean meats and vegetables.
Any good, sustainable diet factors a cheat meal or cheat day in. Will power can only go so far.
If you aren’t used to eating lean meats and vegetables, what is called “eating clean”, dieting will suck. And not just suck, but suck to a perceived degree that seems inhumane. Seeing everyone else around you eating out all the time can make dieting that much harder. This is one of the main reasons why most people fail diets. They miss the social aspect of food. Back before TV and social media, there was really only two things that people did when getting together, eat and drink.
I don’t want anyone to miss out on the social aspect of food. No one wants to be known as that crazy health nut.
When I was getting ready for the bodybuilding competition, there was more than one occasion where my friends were getting together for UFC fights or a party and I had to stay home because I knew that my will power would only take me so far. Had I known these tricks, it might have been different but the strictness of the diet for a bodybuilder and someone looking to get in shape is vastly different. Thankfully getting into shape allows for some leeway.
I am a big fan of the cheat meal. Cheat days are a little too much for me. For me, it seems like a whole day of eating crap is a slippery slope. The one meal I can eat anything I want is a huge mental help. It keeps me on track if I know I can get a treat at the end of the week. If something tickles my fancy during the week, I’ll write it down so I can have it on the weekend. I’ve come to realize as I get older; I am motivated by the same type of things as my dog. Food and exercise. I’m on the fence if that is good or bad.
If you can eat clean for 6 days, these tips will help you not sabotage yourself on that 7th day. This way you can have your cake, eat it and not skip a beat to hitting your weight loss goal.
The perfect cheat day requires a few things:
- Limit insulin response
Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugars throughout the body. The higher the insulin response the more the sugars are converted to fat and no one likes that. Insulin also transports the sugars to the muscles to replenish the glycogen stores. This we like.
- Open your muscles for the extra calories
Contracting muscles requires energy to do so. That energy comes from the glycogen stores. See what I did there?
- Quick emptying of the stomach
You don’t want these junk calories hanging around in your stomach and intestines. A quick empty will limit the digestion time and limit the time available for absorption by the body. Long story short, you want to get the crap out. Literally.
My advice, granted it is free advice so do with it as you wish, combine all of these tips below. One might work fine, but combining all of these tips will ensure the least amount of fat added as possible.
Enough rambling Bonollo, here are the hacks you can do to crush a cheat day.
GET 30G OF PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST
Start your day with 30g of protein. This doesn’t have to be exactly 30g but be in the general vicinity. A scoop of protein in water, a cup of egg whites, 3 eggs and 2-3 strips of turkey bacon. Omelet with spinach if you go out to a restaurant. No bread, no potatoes. Keep the carbs to a minimum for this meal.
Additional tip: Get some fiber in your system as well. Any legumes or green leafy vegetables. This will help you later on. Trust me on this.
CINNAMON IS YOUR FRIEND
Cinnamon helps lower your insulin response. It lowers the Glycemic Index of foods as well by as much as 30%. Cinnamon takes a little more to digest which speeds up the metabolism like a hot pepper would. It also slows down digestion which makes you feel fuller longer.
So sprinkle some on your food, in your coffee or in your protein shake. Word of warning though, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” so keep consumption under 1.5 teaspoons a day to prevent stomach issues.
ADD SOME CITRUS TO WATER
Fruits like lemons and limes are acidic which causes the food you eat to be broken down slower. This slower digestion helps keep your insulin response lower which means less of what you eat is stored as fat. Lemon or lime juice would work as well. 1 -2 table spoons will do the trick. Don’t go overboard with this because the citric acid in the lemon or limes will do a number on your teeth.
CAFFEINE AND GRAPEFRUIT JUICE
Small quantities of fructose in the grapefruit juice almost flat lines insulin response and the naringin in the juice prolongs the effects of caffeine. 4-6 oz. of grapefruit juice before your second meal will provide all the fructose you need to lower insulin response for the day. Be sure to get grapefruit juice and not grapefruit drink. Big difference. I almost made that mistake.
Have caffeine at your cheat meals. 100-200 mg is enough (1-2 cups of coffee). This will help the food pass right through your system without collecting $200.
Side note, naringin is the reason why taking grapefruit juice with medications is not advised. Naringin inhibits the enzyme in the body that metabolizes drugs which can lead to overdosing.
60-90 SEC OF EXERCISE
About 90 minutes after your cheat meal do 60-90 sec of a bodyweight exercise. This will help your muscles open up for nutrients. So any of the calories that are digested get shipped right to the muscles rather than being stored as fat. Air squats, wall presses or chest pulls with an elastic band are some exercise examples.
All of these tips came from The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. If you have time to read it, I highly advise it. Best $30 (I went to Barnes and Noble) I’ve spent in a long time.
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