6 Steps to the ideal Cheat Meal, I mean Refeed

6 Steps to the ideal chaet meal

6 Steps to the ideal Cheat Meal, I mean Refeed

A cheat meal or a refeed meal is about consuming more calories than you have for the last X amount of days.  A refeed meal is normally used in fat loss plans to bring someone out of a calories deficit, ideally boosting your metabolism, stopping it from dropping too low or crashing.  It can also help with the up regulation of certain hormones that can also have a positive effect on your metabolism and mood and therefore speed up fat loss and improve mental wellbeing.

Whilst on a fat loss plan and eating a clean food diet, aside from fat loss people will start to experience other benefits including improvement in gut health, bloating, gas, digestion, immune system, cognitive function and sleep. All these and other improvements occur because you are cutting out foods you would normally eat which are poor in quality or foods you may have developed sensitivities to.  These foods may cause inflammation within your body, resulting in a bloated stomach, disruptive sleep, blemished skin, low mood or even brain fog.  By starting to improve your health from the inside out, you will help your body to function optimally.

It’s not the time to go out and eat all the foods that will run you straight back to where you started from!

A cheat meal is eating whatever you want, breaking your clean healthy food choices and eating poor food choices.  I like to call this “back burning”, that is, going in and killing off a lot of the healthy gut bacteria you have created. Yes you still get the hormonal and metabolism boosting benefits, however, think about what damage has been done and how long it will take to repair?

A refeed meal is about sticking with healthy food choices but just increasing the amount of food you eat.  You might be on a low carbohydrate plan so for your refeed meal you might have your normal meal plus X amount of white rice to bring up your calories to bring you out of a deficit, in addition to the other hormonal benefits it will have. No harm done to the body and the refeed will have a desired effect on your metabolism and hormones.

I’ll let you decide if you want a cheat or a refeed meal.

During a fat loss plan, for the past X amount of days or weeks you have been eating less than your body requires.  This causes the following:

a)  Puts you in a calorie deficit, with your metabolism asking for more than you are putting in, it has to make up the gap in calories.  So ideally it goes to body fat stores; it could go to muscles or bones but when weight training and eating a baseline of protein your body will move more towards fat as you are telling your body you need these muscles for lifting weights.

b) Eventually your metabolism will slow down to match your new lower calorie intake, this time frame is different for everyone and many factors will effect this rate. Once your metabolism matches this low calorie intake fat loss will stop and then we hit a plateau.

c)  You have also depleted the amount of glycogen in your muscles by eating low calories and carbohydrate foods and have now created a lager then normal sensitivity to carbs. Your muscles are depleted of glycogen from weight training and are craving carbs to restore those empty glycogen stores (insulin sensitivity), this is the optimal time for carbs to be used to feed your muscles and not your waistline.

d) Because carbohydrates have a big impact on hunger hormones (ghrelin & leptin) and your metabolism, cutting them out for a long period of time will cause your metabolism to slow and fat loss to also slow or stop. Cheat meals or refeed meals are designed to reboost your metabolism and hunger hormones and keep the body burning body fat.

Now the real problem becomes figuring out when and what to eat, cheat meal or a refeed meal, when and how often. Just because you have been good all week doesn’t mean you deserve a cheat/refeed meal.

6 Steps for your cheat meal or refeed meal

Step 1. Figure out how often you can cheat. The leaner you are and the more often you train the more frequently you can make a cheat/refeed meal work in your favour.

To start your fat loss plan I like people to be low carbs and in a 20% calorie deficit from their active basel metabolic rate for 14 days before they are allowed a refeed meal. Then depending on body fat percentage, refeeds will be anywhere from every 2 weeks to every 3 days, it all depend on current body fat and insulin sensitivity. The fatter you are the less often you need a refeed, the leaner you are the more often you need a refeed. Note that I haven’t referred to a cheat meal, only a refeed meal.  I think a cheat meal should only be used for special occasions or when there is no other choice.

Step 2. Decide how you will refeed/cheat before hand. It is a good idea to plan how you will refeed/cheat beforehand – look up the menu before heading to the restaurant or plan what you will cook, this way you will make the right choice and not be rushed and choose a meal that doesn’t work in favor of weight loss.

Step 3. Determine your carb allotment. First time cheating/refeeding is a bit of a test, follow the morning after assessment to see how you went. I recommend women start with 50-100g and men 100-200g of carbohydrates by eating white rice.  The aim is to match or go slightly above your active basel metabolic rate.  To determine if you ate the right amount, you should wake up in the morning feeling flatter and leaner, only a little, but looking in the mirror you should be able to tell. This approach will not work with a cheat meal, if you eat something you are sensitive to it will more than likely cause your stomach to bloat, increase inflammation and hold more water.

– If you wake up feeling leaner then you got it right, next time try to eat 20% more carbs than last time and reassess.
– If you wake up the same it can go either way so next time increase by 20% more carbs than last time and reassess.
– If you wake up feeling fatter you had a little too much, reduce carbs by 20% next time and reassess or you had a refeed too early (wasn’t deserved).
– If you wake up bloated and feel off, you ate something that doesn’t agree with you, avoid that food next time.  Rice and gluten free options are your best choices.

Step 4. Make the best cheat/refeed choice you can. This is an indulgent meal not a blowout so choose a cheat meal that is higher in carbohydrates, moderate protein and lower in fats. Just because its a cheat meal doesn’t mean you go out of control and eat whatever you like.  We are still focused on fat loss, improving health and getting you your ideal body.  Use this meal to have foods you haven’t been able to have such as rice, sweet potato, quinoa or gluten free pizza if you can handle dairy – these are all good choices.  Aim to stay away from trans fats, deep fried foods, gluten, refined sugar and heavily processed foods.

Step 5. Eat your protein first. As with every meal you have you still need to hit your protein goal, so eat your protein first. Women are still looking for a minimum of 100+g of lean meat and men 200g of lean meat. This will also help prevent overeating.

Step 6. When your butt leaves the chair, no more eating. This a cheat meal, not a cheat buffet or a cheat day!  Choose your meal, sit down to that meal and when its finished or you leave your seat for any reason – its over!  Whichever comes first; no going for re-fills, bathroom breaks, 10 minute breather.  These all indicate you are eating too much.

Enjoy yourself but remember your goals

To Healthy Living

Daniel Christie

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