I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I really enjoy indulging on something I normally wouldn’t allow myself to eat. Sometimes I’ll go weeks staying on an eating regimen. Other times, I’ll find myself once or twice a week indulging in something that’s off my normal plan. This can either be a big help or—it can work against you. There’s a fine line, so let’s distinguish between a cheat meal and what I like to call—a re-feed.
A cheat meal is exactly that—having something that’s completely out of the norm that offers more of a psychological reset than anything else. For those that follow a strict eating plan, a cheat meal is a splurge—probably something you would have had as a child. Mentally, this is a fantastic reward and a great way to hit the “reset button.” I find this really motivates one to be able to tighten back up and push you to achieving a goal. In my experience, I’ve found the problem with the cheat meal is many times people tend to go overboard, leaving them with a food hangover. For those who’ve gone through this, please raise your hand right now! By going overboard, you’re causing not only a hormonal imbalance, but you’re giving yourself too much of what it doesn’t need. You could continue to cheat but just leave it to one or two meals per week to be safe.
Now let me introduce you to something called a re-feed. I love using re-feeds for not only athletes, but individuals with serious physique goals. This is a way to keep the metabolism working at its best and to prevent your body from adapting to your daily eating regimen. A re-feed could still be somewhat of a cheat except this time, you’re paying close attention to the ingredients. Let me give you an example. If I were to go out and cheat on cookies from a supermarket, most likely I would be consuming a lot of chemicals and harmful ingredients that might be used in that cookie. Because of that, the next day, my body will have to work that much harder to detoxify. However, if I make sure that cookie is from an organic source or better yet, homemade with organic ingredients, I will without a doubt fight less of a food hangover the next day.
My body responds much better to re-feeds over cheat meals which leads me to the next question—when to have them? I benefit from having them twice a week. Typically you might see me doing a re-feed on a Wednesday or Thursday as well as Sunday. Furthermore, I find the next day my energy level is optimal, as well my workouts.
So if you’re using cheat meals once in a while to indulge and live, do so sparingly. If you’re re-feeding the body, please make sure to enjoy it, but be wary of the ingredients that you’re consuming. Both can be beneficial but as shown above—clearly different. Hope this helps!