People ask me all the time, Do you have a cheat meal and if so how often? Is it once a month, once a week, twice a week…? Well, I wish that was a simple answer but its not. The answer is, it depends on where I am at with my training and what I am working towards. To understand what I have and why, first you need to know the point behind a cheat meal. Some people use it just to satisfy a craving they may be have had all week. For me its much more focused than that. A cheat meal has a few benefits. The first being that it can boost your metabolism. Our bodies are very smart, it will quickly realize when it is in a calorie deficit. If you stay at a deficit for to long your body will start to go into starvation mode and slow its metabolism down to conserve energy. Yes this can happen even if you are eating often and don’t FEEL like you are starving. This is where a cheat meal can be beneficial, by indulging once or twice a week you shock the system and rev up your metabolism. Basically you are letting your body know it is not in starvation mode.

The second benefit of the cheat meal is to replenish your glycogen stores. When you have a hard workout (especially one where you are lifting heavier weights) you deplete your glycogen (aka sugars) this combined with a low carb diet can lead to mental fogginess, dizziness and poor workout performance. Having your cheat meal will replenish your glycogen stores. This will keep you focused and performing at optimum levels. Now comes the fun part of determining how often to have your cheat meal.

If you follow me on social media you know that I’ve spent the last few months working on growing my legs and my butt. This is easier for some than others. For me it takes a concentrated effort. I work my legs 3 times a week. After each leg workout I would have a cheat meal. I actually had to eat a little “dirty” to get my gluteus to grow…that means I would eat something higher in carbs and sugar like cookies a doughnut or a waffle. Sounds like fun right? Yes and no. Yes it tastes great for the few minutes it takes me to eat it but honestly its not my favorite thing to do. The added sugar usually doesn’t make me feel very good and when I up my carb and sugar intake I tend to lose my abs a little bit. Id be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me a bit when Im in my “bulking phase” but its all part of the process of sculpting my body to look the way I like. I spent 4 months growing my legs and gluteus and I can say that I am very happy with how they look right now.

Now that they are at a size that I like I go back to my cutting phase. This is where I trim down and tighten up. When I am in this phase of my training I usually only have a cheat meal once every few weeks. Im more strategic with my carb choice after my leg workouts. I still eat carbs but I choose things like brown rice and sweet potatoes, my body burns through these a little faster than it does a doughnut and it doesn’t really store anything as fat.

When it comes to your cheat meal you need to know why you are having it. Is it to satisfy a craving? Which is perfectly acceptable or is it to help you reach a goal. If it is to reach a goal, know what that goal is and how the cheat meal will help you achieve it. This will help you decided what to have and how often.
Your partner in health,
Autumn Calabrese