The western culture is rife with junk food and convenience foods. Many health and fitness personalities will sit here and tell you to NEVER eat junk again, take the leap and live a healthier life. Whilst I agree with them I also feel that it is unrealistic and maybe people who were thinking of getting into shape will be put off by such bold commitments. This is why I wanted to advise you on ways to really limit the damage something like a burger and chips at your local pub can do to your body composition. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some magic fairy dust which makes you resistant to the negative effects of junk but it will help!
By being strategic about when you eat your cheat meal can really have a big difference on the negative effects it will have on you. In an ideal world you would have your cheat 60-90 minutes after a very intense leg workout. The logic is simple, your muscle glycogen levels are depleted which means your body is going to be better prepared for the influx in fast digesting calories. As a result the utilisation of the bad calories is improved which in turn means there is less converted to body fat. This doesn’t mean to say cheating after every workout is OK, but having one every 2-3 weeks after an intense leg workout for example will be the best time to limit the damage.
Cardio it up
One of the old school approaches to cheat meals which a very good friend of mine did for years as a pro bodybuilder was to double his cardio on cheat meal day. This is a very simplistic approach, but by doing this you are not only burning twice the calories you are also going to increase your metabolic rate.
Keep it clean
From my point of a view a cheat meal is something which allows you to indulge beyond the limitations of your nutrition plan. This doesn’t mean you have to choose the most calorie dense, sugar ridden meal on the menu. In fact, when you are used to bland meals something which tastes great can sometimes be enough. When you go to the Indian for a meal 99% of the meals are pretty bad, but something like plain chicken tikka is OK as the chicken has simply been marinated so it comes with no sauce.
For those of you who carb cycle there is a great way to limit the damage of the cheat meal. After 3-6 days on low carbs your muscles will be more susceptible to sucking up the sugars so you can even have your cheat meal at breakfast time. Having said that, you can also hold out until the evening of your carb up day and have your cheat meal.
There are a handful of ways you can limit the damage of your cheat meal, but don’t take it out of context and start doing this every day or week for that matter!