The summer season is right around the corner and no doubt you're putting in the work at the gym and at the dinner table in preparation for going tarps off when the weather warms up. I'm sure you're doing your fasted cardio in your Super Freaks religiously and I'm positive you're busting out rep after rep in fine tuning the physique you've been building upon all year long. To coincide with this, you're probably also pretty far into your diet which you had constructed with fat loss and muscle preservation in mind. Hopefully you've been paying close attention to the changes that have been occurring for you which brings me to this question. Is your diet still working for you? If the answer to that question is not as well as it had been, you my friend may be in dire need of a cheat meal! Yes, I know those two words are like music to your ears and you have been waiting for someone to tell you it's fine to have a burger and fries and it just might be if you have been experiencing any or all of the following 3 scenarios.
Stalled Fat Loss
Our metabolism is what controls our ability to burn and/or store fat. Because of this, we have to implement strategies in which we can control our metabolism based on the time of year we are in. When fat loss is a priority, we have to ensure that our nutritional and training strategies are so that it keeps our metabolism running high. This is extremely important and also sometimes extremely difficult to maintain. If you have noticed that your fat loss has stalled or has slowed down some, it's because you're body has adapted to the foods you've been eating, has recalculated its homeostasis baseline and no longer feels the need to release or oxidize fat stores. When this happens you need to jumpstart your metabolism, get it firing again and a nice cheat meal usually does the trick. Once you have this meal, you should see things working very well for you again in the next couple of days.
Anyone who has ever engaged in a true bodybuilding diet knows just how taxing it can be. When your caloric expenditure far exceeds your caloric intake, you just feel downright exhausted all the time. When peeling away the unwanted fat that you've been carrying around, you have to get into a depleted state where you have just enough food to maintain the muscle mass that you have while getting your body to utilize the fat that you're trying to get rid of for energy. When this happens, you'll notice a significant dip in energy, a loss of mental focus, a lack of desire to even train and really little motivation to do anything but sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Now, there's nothing wrong with being in this state because you have to spend some time here to get shredded, but only to a point. When it begins to significantly interfere with your training, go have a cheat meal. You'll feel re-energized and motivated to carry on with what you're trying to accomplish.
The thoughts of self doubt and the questions that run through your mind when you're on a strict diet will have you asking yourself why you're putting yourself through this in the first place. Many people are attached to food emotionally and don't know it until food is being kept from them. When you can't eat what you want when you want and must do so for extended periods of time, it starts to take a toll on you mentally. Cravings set in, hate for the food you are eating sets in and when it gets real bad, the thought of quitting quickly begins to take over in your mindset. As good as you are at ignoring this, sometimes the anxiety just becomes too much for you to take and it starts interfering with other obligations you have in your life because you feel like you have nothing to look forward to and everything you do each day is exactly the same with the light at the end of the tunnel seeming so far away. If you find yourself at a loss and don't think you have it in you to continue with the diet, have a cheat meal and all will be forgotten. Next day, you'll be ready to carry on with your plan.
Like I said earlier, a true bodybuilding diet is tough and it's also the reason why you don't see every other person in your gym walking around with single digit body fat levels. When properly implemented, cheat meals can do wonders for you and your fat loss goals but don't think you need to have one every week. That's where many go wrong in constructing a plan that sees them eating clean all week leading up to an epic cheat meal on Saturday night. You may not need one that frequently which is why I highly suggest you adhere to the scenarios presented above prior to indulging yourself into a meal that when strategically placed, can and will help you get shredded.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.