When the contest season heats up, there are many questions that will surround you. One that often pops up and I get asked is about cheat meals, free meals and re feeds. And you will find first timers to vets who use these variety of techniques to kept their prep moving forward. Some will even claim, that if they didn’t have a “cheat meal” they would not be able to follow through with their prep. I am going to keep my opinion short and sweet as this is from my personal experience and what I favor. So take it as it is!
First thing first, I am not going to expand on a cheat meal, since I think they are garbage. To have an excuse to eat junk and then hopefully bounce back is not my style of coaching. I don’t care if you try to defend this, as I am not going to listen!! lol. I know plenty of coaches that allow this and I do not agree. These can do harm in my opinion and often leads to needing to catch up and possibly do silly things to make up for lost progress….
Although, I am fan of the scheduled “free meal”. My definition of a free meal is simple. Just a meal that you don’t have to count every single macro and a time to relax about the actual meal. This can go a long way mentally for those who need the break. In addition, it is great for balance. And for me, like many others, balance is needed because we have a significant other, and or children. But this meal is not a time to pig out and go crazy. You are still picking healthy choices and can be a little bit more in volume. The timing is usually once a week and can be used throughout the entire prep depending on the person. Last time I competed, I kept this in until about one month out from my show. And a typical free meal for me was going out for dinner, and getting a chicken breast or two with lots of greens. Now was I really going to count all those little veggies?, heck no! But the value was greater in keeping things sane. For most, you can start your plan with the free meal, but if I see abuse and if I need to make a change, it will be taken out of your plan.
The next question is should I have them or not? In the grand scheme of things, it really does not matter because if you are consistent one way or another, the totals for your week will be the same week in and week out. And when changes are made to the plan, the grand totals will change. An issue with many is that they just look at theirr plan meal to meal and not week to week. There are so many variables to consider that get lost in prep. Just something not to make you stressed is ideal. So in a nut shell, if you think a free meal is not best for you, that is fine. But they can be a great tool to get you started in the right direction.
I do believe in strategic re feeds of carbs to keep the metabolism going but again, this is from healthy foods and not junk. All depends on the person though and usually works very well if planned accordingly. Again, this is person dependent. I will have clients incorporate mini re-feeds right from the start of their plan. This becomes a valuable tool in keeping the metabolism from not slowing down. Take note, you do count these carbs as they are part of the macro plan. The number of carbs one would get varies from person to person as this is dependent on their body type and current state of metabolism. The addition of better carb choices allow the body to rev up again, and help fill your energy stores. Often, you hear about the hormone called leptin. This will slow down in time with a caloric deficit and in turn will conserve itself. We don’t want that to happen, so increasing carbs/calories every so often will help increase leptin to go back to wanting to burn fat for energy.
So really it depends on the person and what will give you the most success for your prep and results. You can achieve them either way you like as long as you stay true to your plan. For those who work with me this is to be discussed in greater detail along with the options and time frame.
If you really dont think it has its place in a plan, that is fine also……..