Whether you are dieting for competition or just to look and feel better, we all at some time experience food cravings. In this article we will be looking at the pros and cons of Cheat Meals and Refeeds, while exploring some other dieting strategies that may keep you powering towards your personal goals.

The term Cheat meal means different things to different people, ranging from 3-day food gorging at one end of the spectrum to extra sweet potato at the other end. Straight up the 3-day gorging festival is not conducive to anybody’s fitness or fat loss goals and is a great way to undo all of the past week’s good work. Let us have a look at what a sensible cheat meal would look like

What is a Cheat Meal? Basically anything that you have been craving over the past few weeks you can now indulge in for ONE meal. Regardless of calories and your specific macro breakdown, if you can consume it in one sitting then you can eat it. Typical choices for cheat meals are usually high in fats and carbohydrates and include burgers, pizza, ice-cream and chocolate. Cheat meals usually address a Psychological Need, as opposed to the purely Physical need of addressing T3 Thyroid optimisation and strength.

What are the Benefits of a cheat Meal? At some point in the dieting process the body will catch on that there is a calorie deficit and reduce your metabolism. It does this by down regulating the conversion of your storage T4 Thyroid hormone into the active T3 Thyroid hormone. Less T3 means slower metabolism which translates into less fat loss. By spiking your calorie intake with a cheat meal you can temporarily trick your body into thinking that calories are abundant and it can continue to make active T3 Thyroid hormone. Most competitors will notice an increase in fat loss in the days following a cheat meal. Having a scheduled cheat meal can be enough for some people to retain their sanity and stick to their eating plan.

What are the disadvantages of a Cheat Meal? The main problem with a cheat meal is usually the quantity consumed. By having large quantities of slow digesting/nutrient poor foods you can feel very sluggish for hours after a large cheat meal. Extra sodium content may also take several days to normalise, causing a water retentive look to the physique. The final problem associated with the dirty cheat meal is that people often turn a cheat meal into a cheat weekend, un-doing all of their good work for the past week.

What is a refeed Meal? Refeed meals usually involve the calculating addition of carbohydrates in one or several meals for the purpose of up-regulating T3 Thyroid hormone and maintaining strength/muscle mass. A common example of a refeed meal would be increasing the quantity of carbohydrates by 50% in the first 3 meals of the day.

What are the advantages of a refeed meal/meals? Because the extra food consumed is clean and what your digestive system is already used to, then this type of refeed will generally result in an increase of strength, energy levels and a fuller appearance of the muscles. Thyroid levels are reactivated causing fat loss to increase in the following days.

What are the disadvantages of a Refeed? Um…. Not many. Refeed meals fails to satisfy those craving certain foods not in their regular diets. If you are new to eating a balanced nutritious diet or your motivation levels waiver sometimes, then a refeed meal may not be enough.

Cheat Meal V’s Refeed Summary: Straight off the bat let us restrict cheat meals to something sensible that is not going to bloat you for the rest of the day. If you are craving a particular food, then a regular size serve of this food once per week could prove to be beneficial, both mentally and physiologically as well. For those with a lot of discipline a refeed periodically will be beneficial in keeping the body fat levels dropping. You need to pick the one that suites you best. Refeeds are designed to address a physical (metabolic) problem. Cheat Meals are designed to satisfy a psychological need.

Just be honest with yourself, are you adding clean calories to optimise your physique or are you just rewarding yourself (good boy, here have a biscuit 🙂  )

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