Is fat loss your goal? Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about having a cheat meal.

26 July 2016

So, you’re trying to lose a few KGs. Whether it be for summer to show off your hot bod or just to feel better about yourself.  You’ve heard somewhere that you should have a “cheat” or re-feed meal once a week because it’s going to help with your fat loss. You’re wondering how a large fatty/carbohydrate loaded meal can be beneficial to your goals!

Well, wonder no more. This blog post is going to outline in great detail (but not too much detail since we aren’t scientists) what happens to your body when you’re trying to lose fat and why a “cheat” or re-feed meal is actually going to help you achieve your fat loss goals.

First things first. How do we lose fat?

We must put our bodies in to what is called a calorie deficit. This basically means that we are consuming less energy than our body is burning. When there is no energy left from the food we have consumed, what source of energy does the body turn to for fuel? Our fat! And our muscle.. but that topic is for another blog post.

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When energy in is less than energy out, weight/fat loss occurs

So, we are in a calorie deficit, consuming less energy than we burn and we are slowly tapping in to our fat reserves for energy. Great! However, as we know, our bodies are adaptive machines. They quickly adapt to any stimulus we put upon them, which poses a problem. As we supply the body with less energy than it needs, it begins to adapt to the decreased energy intake. It says “ok, I’m getting less energy than I need to maintain this body weight, I had better regulate my metabolism so that I don’t burn as much energy”.  The body also decreases your Leptin levels, Leptin is a fat burning hormone – we don’t want this to happen.

Ok that’s great to know you say, just tell me about the cheat meal! Well, I call it a cheat meal, others call it a re-feed meal. The purpose of a re-feed meal is basically to increase your carbohydrate intake that day by 100%. However, most of my clients aren’t training for bodybuilding competitions so I just tell them to go out and feast on a fatty meal full of carbohydrates. What this re-feed does is it replenishes the bodies Leptin levels and raises the metabolism, returning our bodies to the fat burning machines they once were. Yay! These are the physiological benefits of having a cheat meal.

 

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Consume plenty of carbohydrates to help replenish those Leptin stores.

What are the psychological benefits? Well, if you have ever tried to eat healthy before, it gets pretty difficult after day 5, even if you enjoy your healthy meals! Having that cheat meal waiting for you on day 7 is like having a goal to hit each week. It gives you the determination to stick it out with your healthy eating for a few more days. Imagine if you’re on day 6 and there’s no cheat meal waiting for you on day 7, or ever! Do you think you are going to stay true to your healthy eating? The chances are unlikely.

 

So you have just learnt, a cheat meal has two major benefits.

1. Bringing our body back to an optimal fat burning state.

2. Allowing us to push through the week and stay on track with our clean eating.

All my clients have a cheat meal every 7 days, lose weight consistently and don’t feel guilty!

 

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Just don't over-do it.

So if you are in a calorie deficit don’t feel guilty about rewarding yourself at the end of the week. Just try not to order 10 pizzas and a tub of ice-cream. There’s such a thing as going overboard. One meal will do it. Use a cheat meal to replenish your body and mind and get back on that gain train!

Rhys Margan

Spiral Up Fitness

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