Cheat meals have both physical and psychological benefits while dieting.
I personally like my clients to engage in “refeeds” where they intake excess calories from quality sources rather than an all out feast on not-so-healthy options
Reguardless what you decide to do, cheat meals and refeeds only work when you are in a calorie restricted diet 98% of the time.
And their frequency is to be determined by how much of a calorie deficit you’re in.
The casual dieter should wait around 2 weeks to let themselves indulge, while someone who is generally leaner and has to really restrict calories to drop weight would benefit from a more frequent “refeed” or cheat of 1x/week.
Here is how to set your cheat meal up to get all of the benefits and mitigate any negative outcomes such as weight gain
1) Activate the right GLUT transporter
There is a way to prime your body before a meal to deposit excess calories into muscle rather than adipose tissue.
The way to do this is by activating the Glucose Transporter type 4 receptor (Glut-4) . The transport of glucose into muscle and fat cells is regulated by a family of GLUT transporters. GLUT-4 specifically helps transport glucose into muscle.
When these receptors are present on the surface of muscle cells, they “open the doors” to allow more glucose into cells.
The more GLUT-4 present, the more carbohydrates we can shuttle from blood into muscle specifically.
How do we does this?
Full body Resistance exercise with 60-90 second muscle contractions
As close to your cheat meal as you can, schedule a full body workout with reps in the 8-15 rep range with a 5020 tempo (5 second negative, no pause at the bottom, 2 seconds to lift the weight, no pause at the bottom).
No time to workout? Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body recommends doing 3 simple exercises right before you eat to activate GLUT-4. Do 1 set of each exercise for 2 minutes-air squats, wall presses, band pulls to chest- all of which can easily be done anywhere
2) Protein first, then Carbs, then fat
The rationale for this is the following
-Protein will satiate you faster
-Protein has the highest TEF (thermic effect of feeding) which means you will burn more calories simply by digesting protein than any other nutrient. = less overall calories taken in
-Carbs are usually the macro nutrient most deprived when dieting, even if your not necessarily eating a low carb diet. If your calorie restricting at all, your glycogen stores (how carbohydrates are stored in muscle) won’t be fully topped off. This means that in conjunction with GLUT-4 stimulation methods I stated above, that your body will happily take in excess glucose to fill glycogen stores before depositing extra glucose into fat.
3) Minimize the release of insulin
The goal is to blunt sharp spikes in blood sugar to reduce the total insulin response from your cheat meal. We can do this with a couple supplements.
-Apple cider vinegar– 1 tbsp on an empty stomach in the am, 1 tbsp in the evening after the feast
-Green tea with Saigon or Ceylon cinnamon (1-2 tsp) with or prior to feast (mix with water or tea)
-Fish oil and Vitamin D– These should honestly be taken daily
-Hit up your diabetic friend for Metformin. Kidding, kind of…
Try it out. Beyond these measure I recommend eating quality food with some fiber leading up to the cheat meal. Don’t starve yourself all day. Adhere to these principles and I guarantee you will avoid any potential pitfalls of your cheat. Enjoy!