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Diet & Bodybuilding

A structured and regimented diet is crucial for bodybuilding success. While the diet changes depending on your short term and long term goals, the general idea is to have good, clean calories free high in unrefined and complex carbohydrates, high quality bioavailable protein and good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats while keeping saturated and trans fats to a minimum.

What is a Cheat Meal

The ‘cheat meal’ is a meal where foods not normally part of your diet are consumed in quantities that would exceed your normal caloric meal intake at a time. A modest cheat meal can be of benefit for some – but should not be a blatant excuse for a food binge. Cheat meals are appropriate when you are in a mass gaining phase. Used weekly, or once a fortnight, cheat meals can be employed as part of your mass gaining strategy, as long as this fits with your training aims. As a general rule, the leaner you are, the more frequently you can cheat, considering the above guidelines. A cheat meal is also an important psychological strategy to ensure that cravings experienced during times of strict dieting can be met but not compromise your entire food plan.

Who Should Use a Cheat Meal?

If you have over 15-20% bodyfat, the cheat meal size, or frequency should be minimised. Below this body fat percentage,  a cheat meal causes you to release greater levels of thyroid hormones, and you actually burn a greater amount of calories due to the energy needed to digest the extra calories. This overeating increases non-exercise related thermogenesis for people who regularly weight train, meaning that most of the extra calories are burned, not stored.

Cheat Meals For Mass Gaining

A well designed cheat meal, and the meals around it, can improve how your body responds to this deviation from your normal eating. To get the most out of this meal, eat meals in the frequency and size you normally employ leading up to the cheat meal. Also ensure that you do not fast in the lead up. Once you’ve had this meal, do not eat until you actually feel hungry again. If you are not used to eating so much at a sitting, the excess saturated fat and calories in general will mean that this is released slowly for hours. On the day following this, don’t try to diet, eat as you normally would.1 Compensatory behaviours such as dieting and starving before and after cheat meals can lead to a vicious cycle which can lead to a possible eating disorder, which you want to avoid.

When to Use a Cheat Meal

The ‘cheat meal’ can be a useful tool to help you gain mass. If you do train regularly, and are in a mass gaining phase, the cheat meal can be a useful to help you work towards your desired physique. Strategically planning your eating around this meal, ensuring that you do not attempt to ‘starve’ yourself before the chat meal and ‘diet’ afterwards can enhance this. The frequent overeating of large amounts of good foods will ensure that you are ingesting the required calories to enable growth.

1 Damage Control By Dr. John M Berardi, Ph.D.
2
Nutrition Quest 3 by Mike Roussell

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