If you’re like most people, you have a love/hate relationship with cheat meals. On the one hand, you get to indulge in food you typically don’t consume while on a diet, but then, on the other hand, you know it’s food you shouldn’t be consuming, and you may risk binging and never getting back on your diet due to a lack of self-control and discipline.
What many fail to realize is that you don’t need to eat chicken and broccoli or steak and rice at every meal in order to achieve the results you desire and unlock new muscle growth. Many people look at dieting as a punishment. They assume you need to be locked into certain foods while other foods are considered off-limits. If you’ve ever dieted like this, you know how hard it can be to say no to many of the foods you love. But you don’t have to! You can leverage cheat meals as a secret weapon to enhance your physique while enjoying the process.
Unless you are a competitor going into a show where low single-digit body fat is a must, you can see great results by including cheat meals in your diet. Not only that, but cheat meals are a great way to maintain your sanity.
Enjoying a cheat meal each week can help reduce your overall cravings as well as provide you with a sense of relief. In fact, many look at cheat meals more so as a psychological benefit than anything else to break up their regimented weekly nutrition plan.
With all that being said, in this article, we are going to dive deeper into three ways you can optimize cheat meals to improve your results and unlock new growth.
Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak with your doctor or dietician before making any major changes to your current nutrition plan or supplement regimen.
1. Schedule Cheat Meals Around Workouts
One of the best times to toss in your cheat meals is around your workouts. Many will leverage cheat meals around leg day or around a larger-muscle workout such as chest or back day to help bring up lagging body parts that could use some extra size.
Following one of these workouts, you’ll have an increase in insulin sensitivity, which can help shuttle high-carb cheat meals into the muscles to spark the recovery process and help replenish glycogen stores in the muscle.
You may think that as soon as you walk out of the gym, you need to run and grab your preferred cheat meal. While adding cheat meals directly after a grueling workout is ideal, you don’t need to worry about the urgency.
In fact, insulin sensitivity can remain elevated following your intense workout for upwards of several hours. Therefore, you could even slam a protein shake following your workouts, such as your favorite flavor of NutraBio Whey Protein Isolate, and then grab yourself a jaw-dropping feast of a cheat meal a few hours later. But this is all personal preference, as you could immediately utilize cheat meals after training if you wish.
Here’s something you need to understand, though. And that is that cheat meals are not meant for you to indulge in anything and everything you want. This isn’t the last supper where you’re going to want to have a massive feast as if it were your last meal. You still want to have some restraint with your cheat meals and pick and choose your battles.
Something else you’ll want to do is, when incorporating cheat meals to unlock new growth, you’ll want to look at utilizing a bathroom scale that can not only check your weight but also your body fat. Will the body fat percentage be exact? No, but at least you’ll be able to track if your body fat goes up or down. If you notice you’re putting on body fat and not lean muscle mass, you need to reconsider your cheat meal strategy.
When thinking about your cheat meals, your macro ratio should still be within your crosshairs. The bulk of your focus should still be on quality protein but allow yourself a little leniency for some added carbs and fat to enjoy yourself. There’s absolutely no reason to smash a 3,000-calorie meal just because you’re considering it one of your “cheat meals.” This process isn’t a free-for-all. Have a little restraint.
2. Drink More Water
Being that majority of your body is made up of water, it should come as no surprise that you should be focusing on your daily water intake. Staying hydrated comes with many benefits, such as supporting fat loss and muscle growth.
But what’s the purpose of focusing your water intake around cheat meals? It’s actually quite clear when you think about it — your cheat meals are typically much higher in sodium than your typical meals while following a diet or nutrition plan.
When your sodium intake skyrockets, it can cause you to retain water and feel (and look) bloated. This ultimately creates a soft and blurry physique — not the look you’re trying to achieve. Therefore, you need to consume more water around your cheat meals to help flush out some of the excess sodium you’re taking in.
Additionally, the increased water can help keep your muscle full and volumized.
One of the most important reasons for increasing your water intake around cheat meals is to help keep your hunger in check. We both know that you could easily consume thousands of calories before satiety sets in.
A trick is to consume water prior to cheat meals to help trick yourself into feeling fuller. This can help prevent you from overeating to the point your cheat meal isn’t helping your cause. While cheat meals can help spark your metabolism, you also need to realize that too much of a good thing is never a good thing — and you’d rather put on muscle mass than fat mass, right?
Drinking a glass or two of water before your cheat meals is a great way to fill up your stomach and trick your brain into thinking you are (somewhat) full. Consuming water prior to cheat meals can help increase fullness by increasing leptin levels (a satiety hormone) and minimizing ghrelin levels (a hunger hormone).
3. Utilize Glucose Disposal Agents with Cheat Meals
Not only do cheat meals give you a break from your current diet, but you want to be able to maximize your results and unlock new muscle growth, right? What if there was a way for you to shuttle your cheat meals into your muscles rather than having them stored as body fat? Seems too good to be true, no?
But that’s precisely what glucose disposal agents (GDA), also called nutrient partitioning agents, can do. No more regret following cheat meals!
Through the use of glucose disposal agents, you are able to seemingly devour carbs without worry. Using these supplements can help maximize your muscle fullness and volume following cheat meals by helping transport the carbohydrates into the muscle.
What glucose disposal agents can do is help carbohydrates align with your goals versus being used against you when consumed in excess. Now, this isn’t something I would recommend you do regularly, but when leveraged around cheat meals can be incredibly beneficial.
Utilizing glucose disposal agents, such as UNBOUND SLYN, can help your body use the carbohydrates and sugars as energy storage and muscle volumizing rather than storing them as fat and increasing your body fat percentage.
Related Article: What is SLYN?
Another amazing benefit of using a glucose disposal agent like UNBOUND SLYN is the fact that they aid in digestion, helping you properly break down and utilize your meal. After all, you can’t utilize what you can’t break down, right? The last thing you want to do is waste all those delicious carbohydrates you had during cheat meals when you can use them to improve your physique and results.
- Bird, Stephen R, and John A Hawley. “Update on the effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity in humans.” BMJ open sport & exercise medicine 2,1 e000143. 1 Mar. 2017, doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000143
- Parretti, H., et al. “Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT.” Obesity: A Research Journal vol. 23, 9. Sept. 2015, doi: 10.1002/oby.21167