Can 1 Cheat Meal Ruin a Week of Hard Work in the Gym?
Many people think of a cheat meal as a personal reward for their hard work in the gym and their dedication to packing a meal prep bag and sticking to their nutrition plan throughout the week. But there are serious consequences to indulging in cheat meals, and better ways to reward yourself than poisoning your body with processed foods and refined sugars.
Processed foods and refined sugar trigger an intense reward response in our brains that makes it easier to overeat. The more poor choices you make when it comes to your nutrition, the less ability your brain has to ‘hear’ and react to the biochemical signals that tell it to stop eating. It's not a cheat 'day' or cheat 'afternoon'..its a cheat meal.
When most people think of a cheat meal, they imagine foods such as pizza, hamburgers, fries, ice cream, chips, candy; processed foods that are not in the diet plan, foods that do more harm than good. A 're-feed' however, involves increasing the amount of calories that you take in on a single day. A typical re-feed lasts between 8-12 hours and involves a consistent combination of carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables.
By treating yourself to a re-feed once per week you ensure that you stay on track with your nutritional diet while avoiding drops in leptin and thyroid hormone levels. You should still plan and pack your food in a meal bag to ensure you are eating the right foods in the correct amounts during your re-feed.
Keep in mind that whether you’ve never had processed food in your life, or you used to live off of it, cravings are inevitable. It’s important that you recognize your cravings but avoid caving in to them. Remember that cravings and urges are like waves that rise to a peak before they fall. They will dissipate even when you do not give in to them.