Cheat meals… we all love them!! Eating is the greatest pleasure in the world, period. And if someone doesn’t agree with this, don’t trust them… they are hiding something lol jk.
However, we all know what happens the day after your cheat meal… you get bloated, retain a lot of water, lose a bit of definition, etc. It’s no big deal cause it’s just a temporary effect caused by the excess of food and in a day or two it’s gone but still, it’s really annoying.
So, in today’s post I’m going to share with you a few tips you can implement to minimize the negative impact of a cheat meal and still enjoy it to the max! Let’s get started!
REFEED DAYS > CHEAT MEALS
Instead of cheat meals, do refeed days. I know, I know, it sounds like “if you don’t want to get bloated after a cheat meal, then don’t have cheat meals…” but that is not what I mean.
While cheat meals are thought to be a break from your diet and provide you with temporary freedom to eat whatever you feel like eating, refeed days in the other hand, have a more precise purpose.
The idea behind refeed days is raising back up your leptin levels. Leptin is the hormone that controls satiety and energy intake. As your body fat percentage gets lower and lower when you cut, your leptin levels decrease with it and as a consequence you start experiencing hunger 24/7 and feel more tired. With leptin levels raising after a refeed day you are able to reduce that hunger feeling and increase your energy levels, at least until your next refeed day.
If you are cutting, the best thing you can do in my opinion, is sticking to refeed days and having a cheat meal occasionally.
This one is pretty obvious but there are two main reasons why you should workout on your cheat days.
The first one: your body will utilize all those extra calories better. It will get the most out of them and use all the nutrients they contain optimally, specially for muscle glycogen replenishment and muscle protein synthesis.
And the second reason: you’re are going to burn some of those extra calories. If you are going to have a solid cheat meal just make sure you work out first to pre burn some of those extra cals!!
That’s why I don’t recommend having cheat meals/refeed days on rest days. You don’t utilize all those extra macros optimally and you don’t burn those calories… so if you want to know my opinion on when is the best time to have a cheat meal, my answer is post workout!
One of the main reasons why people get so bloated and get stomach discomfort after a cheat is because they don’t drink enough water!!
Whenever you have a cheat meal your sodium intake is most likely going to skyrocket, so if you don’t compensate it drinking some extra water, you will just get bloated. Besides, your body needs some extra water to digest all those extra calories you are are going to consume, and if you don’t keep it hydrated, it will take it way longer than usual to digest all that food.
Make sure that whenever you are having a cheat meal, you increase your water intake!!
Another key factor when it comes to avoiding bloating, is when you actually have your water.
Remember that every gr of carbs you consume absorbs 4 gr of water in order to be digested, so if you get a massive cheat meal full of carbs (sushi for example) and you fill yourself up with water after your meal, you are going to get bloated within minutes. Instead try to drink plenty of water during the day and then stop drinking water one hour before your cheat meal till a few hours after it. Actually, if you are having a cheat meal for dinner then don’t drink water till the next morning. This will force your body digest all those carbs with the water it already has in it, so it won’t make you retain extra water weight.
If you are having an actual cheat meal and not a refeed day, make sure you save calories during the day for that meal. Let’s say your cheat meal is going to be your dinner, then try to keep your calories low on the other meals during the day. Just make sure you are getting plenty of protein and save carbs and fats for your cheat.
If you eat like you normally would and then you have a cheat meal, your calories for that day would be unnecessarily high. For example, I’m currently consuming 2200 cals a day (yep pretty low I know…cutting feels lol) and I can easily get 2000 cals on a cheat meal. If I follow my regular diet and then I have a cheat meal, that would put me on almost 4000 calories for the day…not ideal. So, what I do is I actually try to stay low cal during the day so when I get to my cheat meal I’m running very low on calories and I actually have a big caloric window that I can play with on my cheat. If I’ve barely had 1000 calories (probably even less), and I consume 2000 calories worth in a cheat meal then, that would put me around 3000, and since my maintenance caloric intake is 2800-2900 cals, it would be a pretty good caloric goal for the day.
Cheat meals are not an excuse to consume unnecessarily large amounts of calories, it is just a break from your diet. Don’t go all crazy on your cheat, know how to control yourself.
I know, I know, this is not a tip, but it’s even more important than any other tip I can give you: it’s all about moderation.
Don’t go all crazy every time you have a cheat meal, don’t eat everything in sight, don’t always order the biggest option. Just control yourself and learn to enjoy food, not to devour it. Everything in life is about balance, and food is no exception.
WHAT ABOUT THE NEXT DAY?
Alright, so till now we have been prepping for that cheat meal, but what about the next day?
First of all, water. Remember I just told you that you should stop drinking water till a few hours after your cheat? Well now we are talking about the next day so grab a bottle of water and keep it with you all day. Why? Probably things got out of control on that cheat, and even if they didn’t, you are most likely going to still feel full, which means your body still has food to digest. For it to digest all that food it’s going to need water, a lot of water, so drink it!
Second of all, decrease your caloric intake for the day. It’s an old school trick that is very easy to follow. You’ve probably consumed two days worth of calories on that cheat, so it should be easy to stay very low cal for a day. Reduce your caloric intake the next day to force your body to work with the “cheat meal calories” and to give it a break from food!
Also, what I usually do is combine it with intermittent fasting: I wake up early but I don’t consume any solid food till 14 – 15 pm, I just consume water and coffee. That allows me to, first, reduce all the bloating because I am forcing my body to work with the calories consumed the day before and, second, to get my appetite back. Let’s be real, the day after your cheat meal you are most likely going to not be hungry, so the last thing you should do is actually forcing yourself to have breakfast or a snack mid-morning when you are not even hungry.
Try doing a 14 – 15 hours fast to get your appetite back, give your body a break from eating and just avoid feeling like shit every time you eat. Try to go high protein, low carb and low-medium fat. Best combo to compensate the excess of calories.
Last, but definitely not least, go work out. It is pretty obvious, if you want to compensate that cheat meal, just go burn those calories!! Besides, if you also worked out before your cheat meal, like we just talked about, you will probably burn most (if not all) of those extra calories!
That’s it for today’s post!! If you have any doubt, question, suggestion or constructive critic, please do not hesitate to let it in the comments section or use my social media.
And don’t forget to share the post!
See you in the next one! :)