Cheat Meals for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss

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Do you need cheat meals? How often should you have them?

I have been criticized for being too strict about nutrition, I admit it, I’m a nutritional Nazi. Let me take this opportunity to clarify though, strict nutrition is NOT required for everyone! Strict nutrition is NOT required if you just want:

    1. to get more muscular and stronger
    2. to lose fat and get 6-pack abs
    3. to maintain your current physique

If you just want to get a bit more muscular and a bit stronger, you can eat whatever you want within reason as long as you get 3-6 protein doses a day. If you want to lose fat and get 6-pack abs, all you need to do is make a few healthy substitutions – baked potato instead of french fries or a bowl of oatmeal instead of a donut. If you just want to maintain your current muscle mass and bodyfat levels, you certainly don’t need to be strict.

If you are in one of the above three groups, then you don’t need cheat meals because you can have whatever you want within reason and EVERY meal is a cheat meal! Now lets talk about those people who will need cheat meals because their nutrition is so strict. Three groups:

    1. Those wanting to maximize strength and muscle mass. Someone very serious about fitness who wants to look like a bodybuilder and is willing to work hard to get it.
    2. Those wanting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
    3. Cutters. Those wanting to lose fat fast without losing muscle

If you are in one of those three groups then the quality of every calorie counts. Most people who attempted to stay on these strict nutritional regimens 365 days a year would eventually end up binging and undoing all their progress. You can only eat steamed vegetables, grilled chicken and brown rice SO long before you crave something goopy, salty, creamy, frosty or sweet!

A cheat meal is designed to prevent binging. It’s a safety pressure relief valve that keeps you from exploding. A cheat meal is a pre-scheduled meal where you can have something you are craving so that you can stick to your nutritional plan for another week.

Two important points. First, its not a license to pig out. A cheat meal is not TWO whole pizzas and a case of beer! A cheat meal is a few slices and a few beers. And its not a cheat-day, its a cheat MEAL. Second important point, the cheat meal MUST be pre-scheduled. It needs to be something on your calendar that you can look forward to. You eat strictly every meal until your scheduled cheat meal. You cant spontaneously decide to pig out and then label it your “cheat meal”.

Just as important is that you MUST have your cheat meal, even if you don’t feel you need it. The reason is that many people feel really motivated their first week so they skip their cheat meal. The second week, they think they can skip it again because they did last week. By week three their intense pent up cravings cause them to explode in an eating orgy that undoes weeks of progress. The day after they experience such feelings of guilt and shame that they often give up on their goal completely. Don’t let this happen to you! Take your cheat meals!!!

So, how often should you have cheat meals? I would recommend at least one a week and not more than three. Experiment and see what works best for you. The tougher your nutritional regimen, the more cheat meals you will need. Its better to start with more than you think you need and then gradually cut them out. Start with three and if that seems like WAY too much, then drop to two a week.

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