Sunday, March 6, 2011

THE Cheat Meal...

is my saving grace. For me it makes eating clean less painful throughout the week and something to look forward to. 

I usually like to save my cheat meal for the weekend, when temptation is at its height. This weekend I enjoyed my cheat meal at my all time if-you-leave-it-up-to-me I-will-pick-it-every-time favorite restaurant Old Chicago's.  

But what does the fitness/nutrition world think about the cheat meal?  And do they love the cheat meal as much as I do?

The following an a excerpt from a personal trainer.
When you are dieting and in a submaintenance level for a prolonged time your metabolism, thyroid production, and leptin levels down regulate and this is usually when weight stalls or there is performance issues during training. The first thing people do on plateaus is reduce calories which actually makes things worse and causes your body to start storing fat to survive and you damage your metabolic rate as well. So when you cheat (calorie spike) it up-regulates your leptin hormone , which controls thyroid, test levels and GH. This basically jacks everything up and your body starts burning fuel more efficiently again. The thing is you shouldn't do this more than once every 7 days to make sure you need it and it works. ( )
This scientific sounding theory makes me feel almost entitled to eat my cheat meal every week.

But don't go eating that cheat meal just yet. The following is a slightly different take that is a little more level headed.
If you want to raise your metabolism, you don't do it by eating one splurge meal or even spending a day eating junk. You do it by raising calories for a week and still eating clean.

For example, when my clients find their metabolism is so slow they can barely eat anything or would have to do hours of cardio, we simply set them with a goal to *maintain* for a week. If they are on, say, 1500 calories, this may bump their calories to 2000 or 2500 etc. They don't gain fat, but they maintain and are eating much more. They find that their metabolism may go up a few hundred points during that week and that they can then ramp down again.

For a mental reason, I support cheat meals and cheat days as some people need this crutch to hang onto as they adjust their thinking to embrace healthier foods. What's dangerous is when people start to justify it to themselves because they know they are overdoing it but it's so good to have an excuse to make it sound practical (i.e. the metabolism raising idea).

A free meal where you don't overeat and don't miss your next scheduled meal is optimal - allows you to consume foods you crave without throwing everything out of whack. (
The important fact to remember is a cheat meal is one meal not an entire day or weekend. As long as I continue to remember this, I am keeping my cheat meal!

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