What is a Cheat Meal & Refeed Day and How to Do it?
Athletes who are forced to constantly limit dietary habits as getting rid of extra pounds for men and women are considered the most difficult task while giving up favorite foods such as ice cream, chocolate, burgers, or fries. However, few people know that these restrictions have one simple but effective solution called cheat meals.
In this case, the body needs another shake-up and stimulation of metabolism – this is exactly what the cheat meal is for, the function of which consists of two most important aspects:
- Physiological (unloading the gastrointestinal tract, accelerating the thyroid gland);
- Psychological (stress relief to avoid breakdowns).
From the point of view of physiology, the planned inclusion in the diet of high-calorie food intake in a new way shakes the stagnant metabolism.
Morally and emotionally, this departure from the rules satisfies the psychological urge to “treat yourself to something forbidden.” These are the reasons why you need a cheat meal. It is easier for a person to adhere to proper nutrition when he knows that a pleasant reward awaits him on the appointed day. In addition, this approach makes it easier to return to the diet.
| Read more about How to Better to Eat Before or After Workout
Cheat Meal – What is it: the Rule or the Exception?
Of course, a cheat meal has its pros and cons, but the main thing is that it should be a choice made by you in accordance with the tasks set. So, for people striving to lose weight and for those who are trying to gain weight, the cheat meal rules will differ in the frequency of “belly holidays”. For those getting rid of excess pounds, it is recommended to arrange such a joyful event for themselves no more than once every 2-3 weeks. Cheat meals when gaining mass are allowed to be organized once a week.
That is why cheat meals should be considered a deliberate deviation from the correct diet, but at the same time well-chosen and controlled. Because with such disruptions, you can simply lose the results of weekly achievements your weight loss diet.
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The Benefits and Harms of a Cheat Meal
Of course, everyone who decides to arrange cheat meals will have a question about the benefits and harms of this method. Let’s figure it out together.
- Due to the fact that cheat meals are a planned violation, you limit the amount of food eaten and are less at risk of deviating from the rules;
- Easier to endure adherence to the diet, have a positive mood;
- You unload the digestive system, speed up your metabolism, which means you lose extra pounds.
- The risk of a complete deviation from the correct diet and, as a result, the loss of all the results of the diet;
- Weight gain due to carbohydrate loading;
- Possible bloating and abdominal discomfort.
How to do a cheat meal correctly?
Firstly, without undue stress on the stomach and the entire digestive system. A great option would be to have a cheat meal on workout days when your metabolism is at its fastest.
In order to prevent negative consequences, it is important to know what exactly should not be done:
- Arrange a cheat meal more than 1 time in 2-3 weeks if you are on weight loss and no more than 1 time if you gain weight;
- Make cheat meals an obsession.
It is necessary to competently think over and plan the next cheat meal, correctly calculate the number of calories and thoughtfully select the composition of the products. To restore strength and a harmless effect, it is enough that the energy value of the food consumed exceeds the usual by no more than 20%. So, for example, a cheat meal where you will eat 1800 kcal not be acceptable and especially for those who lose weight.
Cheat Meal and Refeed Day: Differences and Features
Under the refeed, high-carbohydrate foods are consumed throughout the day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When cheat meal, a one-time intake of “forbidden” foods is usually used, which experts advise eating in the morning.
Since refeeds last for a whole day, it is recommended to choose more healthy sources of carbohydrates for them (potatoes, pasta, sweet fruits, bread). At the same time, the level of consumed fats in carbohydrates in refeeds day should be reduced as much as possible.
In addition to cheat meals and refeeds, you can often find such a thing as a cheat day. This is essentially the same as a refeed. Its meaning is that you can eat “forbidden food” all day long, but with an important caveat – such a “belly feast” can only be arranged by experienced athletes who have constant physical activity and adhere to a balanced diet.
Cheat Meal and Refeed Day: Expert Recommendations
Nutrition and health experts point out that first of all, such unloading as a cheat meal and refeed day is necessary for those people who adhere to low-carb diets for a long time and have already achieved a decrease in body fat. How to determine that cheat meal is not contraindicated for you?
There are quantitative indicators of the percentage of fat that you should focus on. So, for women, it is 15%, and for men – 10%. In cases where the percentage of fat exceeds the indicated coefficients, you should refrain from frequent cheat meals.
Among other things, in order for a cheat meal or refeed to bring the desired result, we advise you to follow a few simple rules:
- High-calorie foods should not be consumed in front of the TV or laptop while watching your favorite TV show, as this is guaranteed to lead to the fact that you eat more than you should;
- Try to compose your cheat meal menu so that it mostly consists of carbohydrate and protein foods (in the case of refeeds, give preference to carbohydrates) – this will help speed up the body’s metabolism;
- Do not neglect your usual diet, including all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and sports supplements;
- When eating prohibited foods, try not to overeat too heavy and fatty foods in order to avoid negative consequences;
- The best time for cheat or refeed day is between 2 pm and 5 pm, but no later. This time frame is great for fast carbohydrates and fats to be processed before you go to bed;
- Refrain from drinking soda and alcohol – they cause hunger, which is completely unnecessary for dieters;
- Try to connect your cheat meal with an event: let it be a romantic dinner in a restaurant or a relaxed family lunch, and not an ordinary trip to McDonald’s or eating a burger on the go;
- If you are “flooded with water” after a cheat meal, that is, your weight has increased, do not panic and get upset: during the next day, all excess water will go away and your weight will return to normal.
You should also remember about the frequency of such unloading: in cases where your main goal is to lose weight, then cheat meal and refeed should be added to the diet once every two to three weeks, and the refeed should also replace only one meal, but in the second half of the day. Weekly cheats and cheats are only for experienced athletes.
It should not be forgotten that even on those days when you will arrange for yourself the planned cheats or refeed day, you need to replenish the required amount of proteins, amino acids, and vitamins, without which it is impossible to achieve the desired results in a quality manner.