This blog is going to be about refeeds and cheats. I am going to explain the differences between them, why they can be beneficial, and who would do best with which option. Keep in mind, these all vary depending on the person and their goals. Also remember that if you have a coach… Do not just give yourself a refeed or cheat meal. That is up to your coach to decide.
What is a refeed meal/day?
What is a cheat meal?
What is a free meal?
*Cheat Meals, Refeeds and Triple-X Eating
By: Alexander Juan, Antonio Cortes
Let’s start with REFEEDS.
Refeed meals or days are mainly for athletes. And by athletes I mean someone who trains and diets intensely. Someone who is on point with their program.
Refeeds generally consist of the normal foods that you already eat. “Healthy food.” You just get to eat more of it. And on this day or with this meal, you will most likely be consuming mostly carbs and protein, no added fats (or very little).
Refeeds are normally a full day versus just being one meal (of course this will be different for each person). The reason you can do a full day with this is because it is still healthy/clean foods. Plus, in my experience, refeed days still have specific macros. So it is pretty much a high carb day of your diet/plan.
Why would you want to refeed?
Here are some benefits of a refeed…
1. Replenishes your glycogen. When you are dieting and training hard, you deplete your glygogen levels.
2. Helps maintain performance.
3. Avoid metabolic slowdown. When you diet and lose weight, your metabolic rate slows down because your body is not using as much energy.
4. Maintain hormones. Going into a big calorie deficit can really mess with your hormones; having this refeed can help keep things a little more balanced.
5. Energy levels. We all know dieting can making you feel drained. So it is nice to have a day with more food to bring your energy levels back up. I can it my hyper day! High off carbs! LOL, jk!
6. Digestion. Once your macros get so low, your food sources become limited. So when you go back to eating “normal,” your stomach will most likely not agree with it. The refeed day allows you to continue to eat a variety of foods. Plus, sometimes people have a hard time pooping when they aren’t eating a lot; so this day helps with that.
It is exactly what it says it is. A meal where you get to cheat on your diet. You can eat what ever you want for this meal. Healthy or not so healthy foods. This is just ONE MEAL, though! I would also recommend you make it the last meal of the day. The reason for this is because it is very hard to go back to eating “normal,” meals afterwards. Therefore, if you make it the last meal of the night… You eat, then go to bed.
WARNING! After eating a cheat meal, the next day or two might be a little challenging to stick to you diet/plan. This is because your will be hungry after the metabolic boost. TIP: Don’t keep any of the foods you eat during your cheat meal. Throw it all away (unless you have self control and are able to keep it, and NOT eat it).
Cheat meals can be had 1-2 times a week (definitely talk to your coach about it). And this meal is still a PLANNED thing! Generally, you would want to pick the same day to have this meal each week. Preferably on a big training day, like legs (this goes for refeeds as well).
Now why would anyone want to cheat? Or why wouldn’t they want to? LOL.
1. Mental relief. Dieting is hard, and can be stressful at times.
2. Digestive flexibility (like above).
Aka. Have a life meal. I don’t call it that. But the article I read did…
Cheat meals can cause a disaster depending on the mentality of the person who is dieting. This is when free meals come into play. Calories of a free meal match the calories of your meal that you are replacing. You don’t have to follow your exact macros, just the total calories.
Free meals can also be 1-2 times a week, again, IF YOUR COACH SAYS SO.
Free meals are more for people who are just trying to live a little healthier, but nothing too serious. So this free meal doesn’t really have to be planned. For instance, if you had a work dinner party, that would count as a free meal. You just want to try to choose wisely with what you eat. And DON’T EAT LIKE AN ASSHOLE. But all in all, one meal isn’t going to kill you.
Now that you know a little bit about each option of a refeed/cheat… I want to talk a little bit about my take on it all. I have done all three.
When I first got into health and fitness, I was one to have a free meal. I would follow my diet the majority of the time, but if my friends invited me to a lunch, I would go. I would definitely be mindful of what I was ordering (make sure it was healthy). But I didn’t stress over counting my macros or calories.
I do think that free meals are good for those who are more relaxed when it comes to nutrition and the gym, but still want to live a healthy lifestyle. Free meals are also great to experiment with healthy versions of your favorite recipes.
Once I got into bodybuilding, and was a lot more strict with my eating… Cheat meals is what I did. I would have one cheat meal a week after a leg workout. It was the last meal of the day, and generally my post workout meal (I worked out at night). This was nice because I was able to eat whatever I wanted for that meal. It gave me something to look forward to. But these meals eventually got out of had.
I would eat way too much! I would eat until I was in pain.
The cheats also made me crave things the next few days.
I definitely didn’t have the best mindset or relationship with food during this time.
Now… I am in a way better place!
I have had my share of cheat meals, free meals, and now I have weekly refeed day (for now).
To be completely honest, I think I like the refeed days the best. I mean, don’t get me wrong… Who doesn’t like a cheat meal?! But when it comes down to achieving my goals… Refeeds are the way to go. I get to eat a lot of food. Food that I know is yummy and beneficial. Food that won’t make me sick. Plus, I follow macros, so I know I won’t over do it. And because I don’t over do it, I don’t gain a bunch of weight the next day.
Mic drop 🙂
Wanna see what my refeed days look like? CLICK HERE!