Skip the Cheat Meal, Fatty

Dr. John Berardi
John Berardi

Since the late 1990’s Dr. John Berardi has published 8 scientific abstracts; 15 scientific papers and textbook chapters; presented at nearly 50 scientific, exercise, and nutrition related conferences; and published countless articles online.

His first articles at Testosterone Magazine so many years ago, provided me with the basis for everything I know about nutrition today. Now I will turn some of that knowledge over to you in the form of Nutrition Tips written by Dr. Berardi himself.

Today’s Topic – Cheat Meals

I have used the concept of cheat meals extensively throughout my 14 some-odd years of dieting and weight training.

Where has it gotten me?

When I get down to lower bodyfat levels, cheat meals help give me motivation, energy, and seem to rejuvenate my system.

When I’m hovering between 15-20% bodyfat, cheat meals pretty much only function to stall my progress.

At this point in my training, when I am under 15% bodyfat I will use a cheat meal on a Saturday night to jumpstart my metabolism and replenish the old glycogen stores. I keep the cheat meal under control by not maxing out on sugar and greasy fat. I keep the protein content high, and I use the next day (usually Sunday) to completely rest my body and let those extra calories help with recovery from the previous week’s workout.

Any other time, I leave cheat meals for the fat folk.

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The truth of the matter is that when you have a high percent bodyfat, your body is more likely to store every extra calorie in adipose tissue. If you are not already lean, skip the cheat meal.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s see what JB has to say about it:

Tip: Skip the Cheat Meal, Fatty!

“Cheat meal frequency should be minimized when you’re over 15-20% body fat.

Basically, the fatter you are, the more likely that any excess food will be shuttled toward body-fat storage rather than muscle mass. So skip the cheat meal unless you’re lean. And even then, think of it as an alternative food meal – not a cheat. Cheat meals are usually glorified forms of dietary debauchery.

Alternative food meals allow for something a little different from the norm without the trough.”

See Also

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6 Responses to “Skip the Cheat Meal, Fatty”

  1. Ha ha! Nice title there, Mr. Sensitive! Not the most sympathetic of the fellows in the scooters visiting the Walmart McDonalds, are we?

    I am still at the point where my metabolism maintains me at a healthy weight that is fairly attractive (some muscle definition all over and a decent six pack when I am hungover or otherwise dehydrated). Because this is a finite period I figure I might as well enjoy, I just concentrate on eating healthy, but in general am not on a diet to lose weight. However, every now and then I get it into my head that I should try to slim down to 24/7 sixpack-status and also to get some discipline in place before the metabolism crashes and burns.

    During these short spells (usually about 2-3 weeks at the most) I have not had much luck with cheat meals (they tend to completely derail the diet train). The best mental tool I have come up with is telling myself “It’s JUST food!”

    Whenever I get hungup on should-have/shouldn’t-have/want, like being in a restaurant and being torn between the $12 salad and the $7 cheeseburger, and start getting wrapped up in how GREAT the cheesburger will be, I settle down and say to myself “Its JUST FOOD for gods sake!” It’s not a cure for cancer or a full savings account or your desperately lonely friend finding true love. It’s JUST food! Calm down Sally Struthers!

    After that I can be a little more objective and just order the damn salad.

    • MTGirl: Great comment! These are the types of thoughts that go through my head too, although I don’t tend to call myself Sally Struthers. Indeed when I am trying to lean out I will say to myself, “Just don’t eat that cheeseburger and you will psyched 3 months from now when this all pays off.” Cheat meals are best used when eating really low carb IMO.

  2. I would have to agree with this as I have had similar experiences. When I’m down to around 10% body fat and have a cheat meal (I like Sunday mornings), I’m absolutely rejuvenated the next day.

    Unfortunately too many people get carried away with their cheat meals and turn them into gorge-fests.

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