Concepts for the Refueling Day
Enjoying a hard-earned cheat meal, a.k.a refuel meal, is always good on the physique, and the mind too.
But using cheat meals the right way can make or break your physique.
Strangely enough, with the growing numbers of orthorexics (aka “diet Nazis”) in the field of health and fitness, some might not be cheating often enough. Or eating eat too little extra calories to make a difference in their metabolic rate. Of course, at the other end of the spectrum we have those who think it’s perfectly normal to have a large pizza and a dozen donuts because they’re exhausted after walking an extra block with their dog. Yes Christian Thibaudeau, I’m looking at you.
This is why most diets or physique transformation boot camps last for 12-weeks, by the way. It’s sufficient time to see results and take pictures, while the client can maintain discipline. But after this, most return to their usual habits and binge as a way to compensate for eating boiled chicken and broccoli for 3 months. Often gaining back the fat they lost with a little extra. This is why I’m against coaches who never allow their clients to deviate from their diets. Not only does it stress the client out, but a well-placed cheat will in fact help their physique composition goal. It’s my experience that most client will lose fat faster, and stick to their meal plan longer, if they are allowed to have a cheat meal every 4 to 6 days. But it has to be a cheat meal, not a cheat day.
Here is how I have my clients cheat to optimize their fat loss
1) Proteins must come first.
Protein is an important regulator of appetite, so it will help you eat the right amount and still feel full and satisfied.
2) Eat the right amount of carbs.
This will necessitate a few trial and errors, but you can easily find out by having your body fat measured the day after your cheated. If your body handled the amount of carbs well, your body fat should have decreased and your lean mass (not muscle, lean mass!) should have increased. So if, for example, you cheated on a Saturday, having your favorite cheat meal and an extra dessert, you should be leaner. If this is not the case. Then try to decrease the amount of carbohydrate by 20% the next time you refuel, which should be 5 to 7 days later. Repeat the process and adjust the amount of carbs until you look and feel better the day after a cheat meal.
If you find out that you have lost weight the day after you had a cheat meal, try instead to increase carbs 20% the next time you cheat.
3) Plan what you are going to eat instead of “winging” it.
This will not only create an anticipation that will make you appreciate the moment more, but it will also allow you to make better food choice. A grilled steak with a baked potato topped with sour cream, and a big bowl of mango sticky rice for example, is a better option than 2 cheeseburgers, fries and a box of cookies. Quantity vs. quality matter
4) Make sure you set the environment right.
Put the food you’re going to eat on the table and take the time to appreciate it. Chew and savor the moment instead of eating in front of the TV. And once your butt leaves the chair, it’s over. This will prevent the “evening refuel” syndrome
5) Adjust the amount of carbs as you get leaner.
The lower your body fat and the more lean mass you have, the more carbs your body needs. Once you get to single-digit bodyfat, you can start doing refuel days instead of refuel meals.
Keep in mind that the ratio of good meals to cheat meals should be between 20:1 to 30:1. Never less, never more.
Find your optimal ratios and sticking to a few simple rules will ensure that you can eat out, enjoy life with family and friends, and you won’t cheat yourself of your gains.
Enjoy the path,
Coach Charles R. Poliquin