In this article I will be talking about the importance, implementation, and tracking of how to handle a cheat day / refeed day once a week while following any BE fat loss plan.
Cutting plans can be mentally taxing and cause you to feel down and demotivated. This is normal and is one of the biggest obstacles that anyone will encounter on their journey to a low body fat percentage.
The low calorie and carb restricted nature of most cutting plans can wear anyone down over time. So this begs the question,
is it possible to cheat once in a while? will it be detrimental to your goals? or may it even be beneficial in achieving your goal?
This answer is , it depends.
If you are someone that cant handle having a cheat meal or cheat day because it will bring back cravings for bad food, which wont be easily tamed again.Then a cheat day might do more damage mentally than good.
But, if you can appreciate just one cheat day a week then it can be a beneficial addition to your fat loss plan and I will explain why.
When you begin any calorie deficit and carb restricted diet, a certain number of things begin to occur.
-loss of strength
-loss of mental capacity in daily activities (work , school )
among other things.
Among these effects is one important factor that can not be taken lightly, the loss of strength. Anyone that has achieved a low level of body fat will tell you how difficult training can become , but the most successful ones will simply tell you that while they did not get stronger, they maintained the majority of their strength.
So why is this strength important?
Maintenance of strength is a good indicator that there has been minimal muscle loss. Any time your body enters a calorie deficit , it starts switching into starvation mode. Physiologically your body is built to SURVIVE. As we know, keeping as much muscle as possible during the fat loss phase is imperative to achieving an outstanding physique at low body fat percentages. No one likes to lose fat and muscle only to end up looking skinny.
So what does this “survival machine” do to postpone death by starvation?
It lowers the required amount of energy expenditure the body needs !!
Lower energy expenditure means you can survive on less food ,therefore, postponing death.
How does your body do this?
Put simply, your body modifies its hormonal and chemical balances to start using Muscle instead of Fat as energy.
Its quite logical, your body wants to survive starvation due to this calorie deficit , so burning muscle which is a metabolic tissue (burns calories just to maintain itself) is more beneficial on a survival standpoint than burning fat!
so in essence, your body prefers to burn muscle over fat when it needs to survive longer!!
So how can you reverse this process and protect your muscle while in a cutting phase?
By telling your body it NEEDS THE MUSCLE TO SURVIVE!!!
For those PRO members that have skyped with myself or any BE coach.The supplementation , diet, and training principles that help preserve muscle mass have already been discussed.
So where does a cheat meal fit in this picture?
Having a cheat meal/day allows your body to recover from the 6 days of strict dieting and refuel the glycogen just enough to increase training intensity for the 6 days to come. This boost in glycogen and recovery will help you preserve your ,muscle mass by allowing you to maintain an intensity in the gym high enough to achieve an anabolic balance in the body. You can see this as telling your body ,
“hey I just sprinted after a lion , wrestled its ass to the ground then ate it, I need this muscle mass to survive or I wont be able to catch the next one ! ”
Your body will respond to the intense and heavy weight lifting by establishing a more anabolic hormonal balance promoting a shift to fat usage for energy instead of muscle.
So A cheat day helps preserve muscle,but how do I have a cheat day without having a detrimental effect on my fat loss goal in the BE program?
Our basic principle when it comes to a cheat day , is balance and a rise in calories to maintenance. This can be easily discovered by setting your diet planner to maintenance to get an idea of how many calories you can have on your cheat day. What this means is that you are free to eat whatever food items you like and you dont need to worry about the macro ratios, BUT, you must stay under maintenance calories. So if your allowed 2500 calories at maintenance then eating 2000 calories in one sitting at mcdonalds means you will only have 500 calories left for the rest of the day. This basic principle will insure that you get the benefit of he sugars and fats on a refeed day, without exceeding calories so much ,that fatloss slows down for the days that follow.
Another tip to balance out the oncoming cheat day or meal would be to lower carb intake the last few days before the cheat day. This will deplete glycogen lower than normal and give more room for sugars on your cheat day.
This ofcourse fits in perfectly in a BE carb cycling plan with the high carb day falling on the refeed day at the end of the week .
As you can see , a cheat meal when controlled and moderated, is not only a great mental break, but a fat burning tool. Approach your upcoming cheat days intelligently and see your progress continue.
See you at Sushi Sundays!!