Oh no…you knew it was coming sooner or later didn’t you?!? From the first resurfacing of the newly named “Xecutioner” last Monday, it was only a matter of time before he was back to answer the question he posed long long ago on this blog about the viability of cheat days (and more importantly…their impact on your six pack success!)
Well…as is quickly becoming customary when the Xecutioner makes an appearance, you may want to hide the women and children and strap on the bullet proof vest because I have a feeling he is going to come out firing here!
Are You Cheating Yourself?
So now that you’re prepared, why don’t we get right to it? Guys (and to my loyal gals reading this as well!)…you are doing nothing but cheating yourself and your results by taking advantage of cheat DAYS!! Holy crap?!? Looks like Mr. Xecutioner has had that pent up inside him since last November (wait, actually he has!)
Notice I said DAY however and not MEAL. Believe me…there is a HUGE difference between the two.
The whole concept of cheat DAYS is just fundamentally flawed as it is. You’re working hard, eating right, training consistently and working towards getting closer to living the healthy lifestyle you know you deserve and the mindset is that your “reward” for being on your best behavior is to get to f&*k it all up with a day of bad eating?!? Am I missing the point? The reward should be that you get to show off the results of your hard work and actually ENJOY being healthier and feeling better than you ever have before.
When the expectations are that eating well and training right entitle you to poor eating and skipped workouts, it just doesn’t seem as if the “lifestyle” is really setting in does it? Not only is it contradictory, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that doing this will cost you ANY chance of having the kind of physique and CONSISTENT low body fat levels that reveal ripped muscle development! It’s like Charlie Sheen trying to say that he’s actually “WINNING” right now…when we all know, the exact opposite is happening!!
Instead of a Cheat Day Try….
Now notice, I did NOT say that a well placed cheat MEAL was just as bad. In fact, it can be downright helpful on many fronts. On top of helping some to maintain their sanity while adapting to healthier eating habits, it can help to restore depleted muscle glycogen when you’ve been training consistently hard, can help to reset leptin levels (the fat loss hormone…more on this to come!), and can actually be anabolic if you’ve been restricting fats too much in your diet!
In fact, the math supports the argument as well. If you’re eating 5-6 times a day like I’m strongly advising you too all along, then you’re consuming 35-42 meals a week. Getting only one or at most two of these “wrong” will still leave you at a damn near percentage of perfection! Coming from pro baseball, I can tell you, ANY player would be happy getting 33 hits in 35 at bats!! Just remember, if you’re going to indulge…try to keep it sensible and limit it to that single meal instead of letting it slip into an entire day of crappy eating that leaves you in a food coma that even Ronald McDonald couldn’t pull you out of.
Minimizing the Damage Of Your Cheats
Just remember, the difference between a cheat DAY and MEAL is HUGE! While the single meal can be beneficial if well timed…the day’s worth (or too many cheat MEALS in a week) is going to swing the balance quickly from progression to regression and will shut down your body’s ability to get to those sub 10% body fat levels that really reveal your abs and hard work. If you’re going to indulge once or twice a week…try these 3 things to minimize the damage even more (you’ll thank me later)!
1. Train HARD the day after a cheat meal. With muscle glycogen levels at their peak…you should be ready to put out your best efforts in the gym!
2. Drink LOTS of water following a cheat meal! With every gram of carbs soaking up 3 grams of water…(that’s where the HYDRATE part of carbohydrate comes from), you’ll be able to minimize the bloat caused by excessive carbs from your meal by taking in the water to help flush it away.
3. Finally, wait at least 3 days (or ideally a week) before you indulge again. Old habits often die hard and you don’t want to relapse back into your pre-ATHLEAN ways of eating now do you?
The bottom line is…when it comes to “cheating” on your nutrition, the only one getting cheated is yourself…or more specifically…your abs! Rather than looking for rewards in bad foods for good behavior, seek out instead the TRUE rewards of better health, compliments from friends and family on your improving body, and the confidence in knowing that you CAN DO THIS! You can be ATHLEAN!
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.