This is Why You Should Never Eat Cheat Meals
After bicep days, cheat days are the second most favorite day of the week for most fitness enthusiasts. Just like some people work for the weekend, most lifters train for the cheat meal.
For the uninitiated, cheat meals are a planned overindulgence (at least in some cases) that can help undo some of the side effects of being in a calorie deficit. To be honest, most lifters use it as a break from their bland chicken breast and rice meals.
Why You Should Quit Cheat Meals
To understand the concept of cheat meals better, you need to know about Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones found in the body that work together to bring about hunger harmony.
Leptin makes you feel full after a meal and ghrelin makes you feel hungry when you haven’t eaten. When you’re following a calorie deficit diet, your body responds by reducing the amount of leptin you produce.
When your body limits the leptin production, ghrelin runs wild which results in you feeling hungry more often. While broscientists sell cheat meals as a way to fix this hormone issue, they aren’t as effective because –
Cheat Meals Encourage Over-consumption & Binge Eating
The first and one of the biggest problems is that some people turn the cheat meals into cheat days. The others turn the meal into a three-course dining experience. They start with a hamburger but have the cravings for fries in the middle of the meal and want to finish with an ice-cream.
Many people can’t control themselves when they are around food that has been deemed forbidden by their diets. Dining-in is a terrible idea for cheat meals. You should rather consider takeaways or ordering food to your home.
They Reinforce the ‘Good’ Food vs. ‘Bad’ Food Mindset
If people don’t do it already, they start categorizing food as good or bad as soon as they embark on their fitness journey. Creating this divide between different foods is not healthy or ideal.
Sure, knowing which foods are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’ can help you make better food choices. However, the reality is that labeling food this way is distorting your relationship with them. This habit is also giving you unhealthy, unproductive and unnecessary eating habits.
Cheat Meals are Ineffective at Raising Leptin Levels
Some people have the illusion that cheat meals are helping them in restoring their leptin levels, reducing hunger and increasing metabolic rate. In reality, they are nothing more than for you to escape your shitty weekday diet.
Cheat meals are usually full of fat which has no notable effect on leptin levels. A study shows that not only do carbohydrates raise Leptin levels but carbohydrate overfeeding also increases energy expenditure over 24 hours, whereas fat overfeeding does not.
The Fix – Refeeding
Refeed days are what you should replace the cheat meals with. A refeed day constitutes of planned meals to consume more calories throughout the day. This helps counteract the negative effects of being in a calorie deficit and restores your Leptin levels.
In a refeeding meal, you have a calorie goal that you need to adhere to. Meaning – even though you will indulge and eat more than normal, you’re given a structure to stick to. Cereals, popcorn, pancakes, syrup, pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, and oats are some of the approved carbohydrates options for refeeding days.