Cheat days are usually seen as a way of rewarding yourself for sticking to your diet. But what if you could turn your cheat days into the ultimate physical and psychological weapons in your battle against stubborn fat?
This might sound impossible but, according to fat loss coach Shaun Hadsall (author of 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss), carefully planned cheat days, strategic binging and structured re-feeds can actually help to speed up your fat loss… if you learn how to use them properly.
- 1 Understanding WHEN and WHY you should use cheat days
- 2 When NOT to use cheat days
- 3 4 Cheat Day Tactics To Accelerate Fat Loss
- 4 Cheat Day Tips For Faster Fat Loss
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do this. They believe that after a couple of sessions on the treadmill and a few days of eating clean, they deserve a food bender and go on a binge.
Sadly for them, it just doesn’t work that way.
A warning is in place here… IF you decide to abuse this technique by stuffing yourself on cheat days, you will be creating a downward spiral and this is sure to sabotage the desired effect, both physically and mentally.
On the other hand… when used correctly, cheat meals and cheat days can help you accomplish specific physical and psychological functions that are directly related to your fat loss goals.
How do you do this?
Let’s start by looking at the reasons for using cheat days
Understanding WHEN and WHY you should use cheat days
Why to use cheat days:
To replenish your glycogen stores. This becomes especially important after prolonged periods of low carb eating and/or intense exercise.
To rekindle a dead metabolism after you have been on a low carb diet.
To provide a metabolic spark for your thyroid and reset fat burning hormones like leptin (more this further on). This usually becomes necessary after 4 to 6 days or longer of aggressive carb/calorie restriction or after maintaining super low body fat levels for prolonged periods of time.
If you are constantly feeling cold, the thermic effect of ‘cheat food’ will heat you up in a healthy way and stoke your metabolism to get it moving again
To serve as a psychological reward (to be used only when you’ve earned the right).
When to use cheat days:
- If you feel like you have no energy or drive in your workouts
- When you’re cold all the time, feeling the chills a lot and your body temperature is low.
- If you constantly feel flat and can’t seem to get a good “pump”.
- When you just can’t find the emotional renewal you’re looking for.
This importance of leptin:
Leptin is probably one of the most important hormones when it comes to regulating your appetite and body weight. It signals the brain about how much fat you’re carrying and also how much you’re eating.
Leptin levels drop fast when you start cutting calories or begin to get super lean. Strategic cheat days can be used to metabolically manipulate leptin levels and reset them. The results of resetting these levels back to pre-diet levels (after weight loss), are an increase in metabolic rate, improved thyroid levels and accelerated fat loss.
Now that you have a better understanding of when and why to cheat, it’s time to look at the other (but equally important) side of the coin:
When NOT to use cheat days
There’s a right and a wrong way of doing things. Even if you’re on a diet, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sweet taste of ‘forbidden foods’ every now and then. The trick is to know when – and just as importantly – when not to cheat.
Here are the most common reasons that might drive you to cheating on your diet when you really shouldn’t:
Lack of discipline:
This is something many people have difficulties with. You probably know the feeling – you start off on you new healthy life-style full of optimism and motivation. Then, as the days pass, you start doubting whether it’s all worth the time and effort.
Well, cheat days should be a reward – not an escape. In other words, it’s either the pain of discipline OR the pain of regret. One of the best ways to stay disciplined is by making sure this is what you really want before you start and by focusing on the end result – not the obstacles you meet with along the way.
You’ve had enough of those boring bland diet foods:
Carb cycling plans and diets definitely aren’t the Food Network…meaning they can be tedious, bland and boring. However, if you want results, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices a few days a week. Remember – keep the goal in mind and use cheat days as a reward, not an escape!
You’re stressed out:
For many people binge eating is a way to cope with stress in their lives. And let’s face it, there’s no lack of stress in our fast paced modern society.
Next time you feel the need for an emotional food ‘high’, keep this in mind:
Food can act like a drug. The more you give in to it, the more emotionally attached you get to it and the more addicted you become. Also – binging actually ads to your stress, because – all the time you’re stuffing yourself – you know you’re sabotaging your goal of a healthier and leaner body.
Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to eat your favorite foods guilt free when you use Macro Patterning (as taught in 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss). Just plan out when your strategic cheat days and re-feeds are, accept that you will have to make some small sacrifices and go on to reap your reward!
Focusing on earning a reward (strategic cheat days) automatically cultivates more discipline with your nutrition plan. This is a crucial factor for your long term success with fat loss.
Additionally, your favorite cheat foods will suddenly taste twice as good after you have deprived yourself of them for a while in order to accelerate your fat loss and become more healthy.
You will also notice that, after a strategic cheat day, you’ll be ready to continue with cleaner eating. This happens over and over again to carb cyclers.
In the next part you will learn the 4 specific cheat day tactics you can use to apply this approach effectively and accelerate your fat loss.
4 Cheat Day Tactics To Accelerate Fat Loss
In his program Shaun Hadsall uses 4 specific strategies he uses in his program that will help you get rid of that stubborn body fat.
1: Strategic Cheat Day
(also known as Carbing UP or Carb Loading) – This is specifically designed to provide a metabolic spark to help avoid the adaptive response.
It is often used mid-week and usually consists of only one or two cheat meals which are typically placed towards the end of your day. Cheats consist of specific foods that help stimulate the metabolism and replenish glycogen.
Although it’s a cheat day, it should not be used as an excuse for binge eating.
2: Hormonal Cheat Day
(also called a Free Day or just the common Cheat Day) – Having hardly any food restrictions, this is the most fun and flexible of the different types of cheat days.
This cheat day helps Reset fat burning hormones and replenishes depleted glycogen. It is normally used after longer periods of depleting or Macro-Patterning™ (see the 14 Day Rapid Fat Loss Program) when fat burning hormones have been suppressed and glycogen levels are very low.
The hormonal cheat day should be done no more than once per week in most cases, sometimes even less. Again, don’t use it as an excuse to binge or stuff yourself to death.
3: Structured Re-Feeds
Of the 4 cheat days strategies mentioned here, this one is the most restrictive, but also the most effective. It is more structured and detailed than traditional cheating and is done for set periods of time, usually one to five hours.
The structured re-feed is ideal for people who are a bit more serious about getting lean. It is typicallycomprised of specific foods which are often consumed in a specific order and for a predetermined period of time to achieve the desired outcome.
4: Strategic Binging
This is a carb loading strategy specifically designed to be used after high intensity weight (or bodyweight) training workouts. After high intensity resistance training the muscles are like a sponge that has been wrung dry. This makes them metabolically primed to suck up and absorb extra nutrients (especially carbohydrates). Strategic binging takes advantage of this post workout “magic window”.
The binge is a little cleaner and only takes place for a one to three hour window. It is comprised of specific high glycemic starchy carbs and fruits, which help to replenish the muscles energy storage. It also helps muscles recover, repair, and grow faster after high intensity resistance training.
Strategic binging takes advantage of the Glucose Transporter ‘GLUT-4’. This is a metabolic trigger – almost like a gateway – that helps re-direct or “partition” the extra carbs straight into muscle.
As you can see – when used correctly – cheating can actually help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. When done this way, losing weight suddenly becomes a lot more fun.
Now you know when to use cheat day, how to use them and when not to use them… let’s look at some tips to increase their effectiveness:
Cheat Day Tips For Faster Fat Loss
Here are some additional tips that will, according to Shaun Hadsall, help you get maximum benefits these cheat day tactics.
First of all, try to avoid drinking a lot of alcohol when cheating. It can really mess up the metabolic and hormonal effect you’re trying so hard to accomplish.
Avoid deep fried foods
Try to avoid eating a lot of deep fried foods as these are basically void of any nutritional value. They don’t provide any metabolic or hormonal benefits for the cheat.
Avoid high fructose corn syrup
Try to avoid eating a lot of high fructose corn syrup. Research has indicated that it can potentially have a negative impact on (or even block) circulating leptin levels.
Remember, it’s a cheat day, so you don’t have to completely refrain from the things mentioned above, just don’t go overboard on them.
Plan for extra water the day after your cheat day. The day after your cheat day your body will carry extra water (from all the extra carbs). This is why why you often hear people talking about “carb-bloat” the day after cheating. Water is great damage control to get you back on track.
Drinking more water does mean you’ll be making your trips to the bathroom, but it’s worth it. Just see it as part of your exercise plan for the day 🙂
Hopefully you now have some insight as to how you can apply your cheats correctly.
Keep in mind, the key words here are “strategic” and “structured”. People sometimes tend to misuse this method, thereby sabotaging all the benefits can bring.
It all comes down to the preparation and the approach. You just have to know what to do and when to do it for the best results! This is exactly what Shaun Hadsall teaches in his program.
If you want tot learn more about Shaun Hadsall’s program and how it help can you fix a broken metabolism and accomplish sustainable fat loss… click here.