As odd as it may sound, cheat meals are a great way to break the monotony of your eating habits. This can ultimately lead to a spike in your metabolism, which can result in fat loss.
When I first started training, I resorted to cheat meals on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, this approach prevented me from ever reaching my fitness goals. On average, I would indulge on my favorite junk foods 5-7 times per week.
At the time, I simply didn’t understand the overwhelming importance of nutrition. I thought that if I continued to train hard each day, it would eventually outweigh my poor eating habits.
Needless to say, I was wrong.
You see, fitness is no different than most things worth having in life. It isn’t one dimensional, and often times the strategies that work appear to be counter-intuitive. Remember, the masses are always wrong. If you follow the general consensus of society, you’ll most likely fail each and every time.
The Pareto Principle
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle before? It suggests that 80% of your results will come from only 20% of your efforts. This concept can be applied to most endeavors, and fitness is no exception.
Unfortunately, the majority of people will focus on the activities that generate only 20% of their results.
Don’t believe me?
Next time you walk into your gym, take a look around. Analyze the people on the stationary cardio machines, and then pay close attention to those who are lifting weights.
Ask yourself, “How many of these folks look any different than they did a year ago?” I’m guessing the answer is not many.
You see, working out is just one aspect of fitness. Most people fail to realize that you don’t grow in the gym. In fact, you merely create the demand for growth in your training. Muscle growth occurs only when you backend your workouts with the proper nutrition sources at the proper times.
Unfortunately, it took over a decade for this one concept to resonate with me. I never understood how the foods you consumed mattered more than the labor you put into the gym.
Then I thought about it from a time perspective.
How many hours do you spend training each day? 30 minutes, maybe an hour at the most? Now, think about how you spend the rest of your time. Those remaining 23 hours are spent working, eating, or resting.
Regardless of how hard you train, your workouts will account for no more than 5% of your entire day.
Once I understood the overwhelming importance of nutrition, I started to modify my eating habits. Instead of eating bland, horrible tasting foods each day, I discovered ways to make them taste delicious.
After testing hundreds of different marinating techniques, spices, and dressings, I finally created a system that made my favorite tasting foods healthy.
I knew that I couldn’t rely on my willpower and motivation to eat grilled chicken and broccoli each day. I began eating clean for 3-4 day increments at a time. Each week, I would indulge on 2-3 cheat meals. This kept me motivated during my transformation, but also accelerated the fat burning process.
The Plateau Phase
If you want to build lean muscle and burn fat, then you need to constantly modify your workouts. Whenever you force your body to adapt to new movements, it will respond with initial growth. You’re body will feel sore, and you’ll probably notice some decent gains in the first few weeks.
Within a month, you’ll stop feeling sore. When you look in the mirror, you’l realize that your growth has become somewhat stagnant. This process is referred to as the dreaded “plateau phase.”
When your body becomes acclimated to your workout regimen, it’s time to switch things up and generate “muscle confusion.” You can alter your rep counts, throw in some bodyweight workouts, or adjust the weight being lifted. This puts your body into a state of disarray, which ultimately breaks the plateau phase. As you gradually incorporate new exercises into your routine, you’ll be able to consistently build on your gains.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the “plateau effect”…
It also applies to your nutrition. If you’re eating healthy for weeks in a row, your internal digestive system will become accustomed to the foods you’re eating each day. This will cause your metabolism levels to gradually decrease, which can impede your body’s ability to burn fat. The best way to shock your system is to throw in a cheat meal.
When you indulge on a cheat meal, it will drastically increase your insulin levels. This can skyrocket your metabolism levels and often cause your muscles to blow up. Now keep in mind, a cheat meal isn’t a “cheat day.” If you are in the process of transforming your body, then try and keep your cheat meals to 2-3 times per week. If you’re serious about overcoming your bad genetics in the shortest amount of time possible, then I suggest sticking with only 1-2 cheat meals per week.
So what types of foods constitute a “cheat meal?” Perhaps a nice Subway sandwich, salad, or a grilled turkey wrap?
Absolutely not my friend.
If you’ve followed a solid workout regimen and nutrition plan for that week, then feel free to indulge on whatever you want. I have no desire to eat a “veggie pizza” when it’s time for my cheat meal. Instead, I will have an extra cheese pizza with pepperoni, sausage, and a side of ranch dressing. Get the point?
The benefits of a cheat meal go way beyond the satisfaction of your taste buds. When used properly, they are a perfect way to incorporate healthy nutrition habits over the long-term. Remember, nutrition is all about consistency. Cheat meals will satiate your cravings and set the pace for the next week. Whenever I eat my favorite junk foods, I normally don’t crave them for another 6-7 days.
Cheat meals have made a profound impact on my own transformation, in addition to many of my clients. I have been able to eat clean for the past couple of years, while indulging on my favorite foods in moderation.
Exercise and nutrition are no different than anything else worth having in life. If you don’t enjoy the process, it will become difficult to stay consistent over the long-term. When you’re passionate about something, it makes it much easier to cultivate a solid work ethic. This is when you can achieve drastic results in a short amount of time.
Keep training hard, and reward yourself when the time is right. When it comes to cheat meals, you can “eat your cake and have it to.”