Find Out What a Cheat Meal Really Is
This post is a long time coming because of the confusion that goes on with cheat meals and cheat days. I have made my opinions known on my preference of clean bulking vs. dirty bulking and that I do not use the conventional cheat meal strategy that a lot of people employ. First and foremost, practically no one ever needs a cheat day. That is simply overkill. A cheat day would be an entire day of eating whatever you want all day long. That is just bad news. Enough said on a cheat day.
A cheat meal, on the other hand, is something that benefits a lot of bodybuilders out there for many reasons. To define what a cheat meal is, we will say that it is a meal in which one can consume foods that would not normally be part of one’s daily diet, or one can consume macros that would exceed your normal caloric intake for a one time period. The difference between a proper cheat meal and a blatant excuse for a food binge can be strictly semantics at this point. To me, a cheat meal would be to sneak in a sweet treat after your meal, or to consume twice the amount of carbs that you would normally consume in a meal.
The subtle item that I would like to mention is that a cheat meal should be a scheduled meal, not a meal on the fly. You would not start eating your lunch and then decide that you want to add a couple of slices of apple pie to it and call it a cheat meal. That is binging on food.
As far as bodybuilders are concerned, a structured and regimented diet is crucial for one’s success. For my tastes, even when bulking, one should be clean bulking by consuming clean foods as part of their macros. Protein should still come from lean protein sources. Carbohydrates should still be slow-burning carbs. Fats should come from good, lean sources. As an example, a fried chicken drumstick is loaded with protein and fats, but one should consume lean chicken breast and avocado for a meal to get their protein and fat.
Cheat meals can vary for bodybuilders depending on their needs, but still need to remain structured. These meals should be planned and still should fit within your short term and long term goals.
As a general rule of thumb, the leaner you are, the more often you can utilize cheat meals. For a lean bodybuilder, they want to think about having one cheat meal per week. If you have more body fat, you should think about a meal every other week, or even once per month.
What Should a Cheat Meal Consist Of?
Cheat meals should still be centered around your needed macros. Complex carbohydrates should still be low. Good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are fine, but saturated fats and trans fats should be kept to a minimum. I believe in no trans fats myself. As mentioned above, a cheat meal is fine to exceed your normal macro intake. That is the point of them. Just make sure that the cheat meal is still aligned with your goals.
When and Why Should You Consume a Cheat Meal?
A cheat meal can be a useful tool for adding mass and can also be used to satisfy emotional eaters. A well designed cheat meal, when used in conjunction with its supporting meals, can improve how a body responds to this normal eating deviation. In terms of deviation, this does not mean that one should change the way they eat around the cheat meal. One should still maintain their normal eating schedule of 5-6 smaller meals per day. In terms of satisfying emotional eaters, one can always know that they have a cheat meal coming, so they can save their food cravings for this cheat meal.