As bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts we all have a secret love for food but the question is when and where do we implement these “cheat meals”? How often and are they beneficial?
First thing you have to take into account is what phase of training are you in? Are you looking to gain muscle or are you getting ready for a show? That will play a vital role in how you approach your so called “cheat meal or refeed”! I will give you a insight into my personal approach and what I do both offseason and contest prep
So what is the difference between a cheat meal and refeed?
a cheat meal is generally a off plan meal of your personal choice, this may have some calorie restriction but it will usually be a free meal of personal choice. It can be used to kill cravings, fuel workouts or replenish after training.
A refeed is a more structured approach where you would pre plan according to the individual’s needs, this would be used more in a contest prep phase as and when needed. A refeed May be a simple case of increasing carbohydrates for that day or overall calorie intake.
Offseason I’m a huge believer in consistency but I also believe in balance during the offseason. i personally prefer to incorporate 2-3 cheat meals per week to give me some sense or normality, I can switch off, make time for family and friends and enjoy a meal out without thinking about it. I always say in Offseaon you need relax to a certain extent, remember you can’t drive a car at 100mph constantly, eventually it will run out of gas or worse the engine will blow, so know when to take a step back and when to put the peddle down. My offseason approach really helps propel me into prep as when the time comes im ready, fresh and prepared to go all out. I would generally have a cheat meal when I feel like it, to kill a craving or just enjoy a night out. This may be anything from a pizza to a burger. The only thing I would say is do not binge or over eat, always remember to be in control, once you are full stop. My guidelines for a cheat meal would generally be a main meal and a dessert, in my opinion I think that is more than enough. Control is always key.
Contest prep I generally incorporate refeeds. My reason for this is I believe you should feed the body only as and when needed, I don’t believe you should ever schedule anything. You must monitor constantly and use them to you advantage rather than making it a habit. We can utilize refeeds during prep to help fuel us or replenish the body during long durations of calorie deficit. My typical refeed would be a overall increase in calories for that specific day. Generally I would increase carbs around specific meals of more Calorific dense foods. Sugars work great around workouts and a larger denser meal before bed. I find refeeds much more beneficial on your digestive system as you have complete control of what you give your body when compared to a “cheat or free meal” we can use food sources that we know our body will tolerate and work well with taking the stress off the digestive system. So for example I may add a calorie dense food such as a muffin or cookie pre workout.
Both cheat meal and refeeds have there place but it will vary from individual to individual, you have to take into account how a person reacts to the above, if you gain fat easily i definitely wouldn’t recommend 3 cheats in an offseason as you would end up with unwanted bodyfat. So when planning always remember it will differentiate from person to person.
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