HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE A CHEAT MEAL?
Sometimes you just need a food hug, after training hard and eating well all week you feel like a small indulgence BUT like any awesome trainee you seek permission from your coach!
"Hey, ummm so I have this thing on the weekend and well can I…"
Go for it, but first let me share my thoughts on "Cheat meals" before you commit your clean eating sins.
If you have read my stuff in the past you know I'm a big supporter of the 80/20 rule, 80% of the time eat minimally processed foods, focus on organic meats and vegetables with quality carbs when you need them.
Leave the other 20% to indulge, relax, unwind, socialise and do what you want. The time you have on this planet is so incredibly short, you need enjoy what makes you happy. This model is sustainable, allows you to make progress and doesn't feel overbearing.
"Okay I get it, I'm going to eat 10 bowls of ice-cream, a triple decker burger and then 3 of my favourite slices of cake"
Hold your horses cowboy(cowgirl, don't want offend anyone)…
I know it's easy to be mis lead these days, especially with social media! You see popular names in the fitness industry posting enormous amounts of junk with the headlines "CHEAT MEAL" showing off their lean bodies behind the mountain of seductive food.
This is easy to interpret "If they eat that, so should I"
Let me start by saying I don't like the word "Cheat" what are you cheating from, your results? I call them "earned" meals, this sounds more positive and accurate in my opinion. Chowing down an earned meal after doing your nutritional diligence all week is fine in my eyes, just be ware daily cheat meals have never been a staple amongst a healthy and fit persons eating habits.
"Okay well you're kind of a downer Ian, how often can I have this "earned" meal?"
If you're lean, train hard and have an effective metabolism use a 20:1 ratio. This simply means for every 20 healthy meals you have, eat a preferable treat.
What will work well for most of you is eating this earned meal one time per week, use it to socialise, catch up with friends and enjoy yourself.
"Okay, just one meal? Also is there anything I can do to use this meal to my advantage?"
Unhealthy food is a good stress in moderation, but to answer your question I would eat this meal after a tough workout where you've burned a ton of calories. For most people this will be on leg day! When following a strict diet I always wake up leaner after my cheat meal, this is due to my metabolism kicking into overdrive to burn the extra calories.
So grab your ice-cream buddy and hit the squat rack, this makes for a very bromantic man hang out.
If I'm going to eat I like to go big, but once I eat to the point of unconciousness my body knows that's it, Then I actually look forward to my next healthy meal. Remember this is one meal, not a day or week… Make it epic!
Finishing off, those reading this with autoimmune conditions or severe food intolerances it's not worth the flare up. Make sure you find something you like that doesn't irritate you.
Coach Ian D