The Holiday Belly Burn - Guide to Cheat Meals
Before I get into the cheating rules, let me explain a bit more on how your body works. I explain a bit of this in the Fat Loss Guide, but let me go a little deeper.
Chronic overeating makes you fat. You knew that.
Chronic under eating especially when over exercising KEEPS you fat. You might not have known that.
That’s why normal “diets” stall and ultimately fail. We go from states of overeating to states of damn near starving. Your body freaks out and holds onto its stored body fat through a series of hormonal checks.
One of the big hormones involved is leptin. It is considered one of the most important hormones in body fat regulation. Leptin is nice and high when we eat a lot and when we carry a lot of body fat. When leptin is high your body has no problem allowing fat loss to occur. Understand that it does not just happen because leptin is high, there must be a reason for the body to give up the body fat.
That is where a caloric deficit comes in. That means we need to consume less calories then we burn. Eat less and move more which means diet and exercise.
Uh, no. You see that is where the problem comes in. When calories are restricted leptin levels begin to fall. When leptin levels are low the body will bring all fat loss to a halt. Great, now what?
It seems we have no choice but to eat more to get leptin levels up. But if we eat too much we get fat…..See the Problem?
But there is good news- We can use this information to our advantage. We can take what we know about leptin and make it work FOR us instead of against us.
How do we do this? Simple: Strategic cheating coupled with specialized workouts.
To be clear, a “cheat” or "splurge" is a predetermined period of high calories. The best cheat for our purpose is high in carbs, moderate protein and low fat. But basically anything will work so long as your carbs are high. The Goal is not to Stuff Yourself, but there is no need to limit either. I will further say that you should plan a minimum of 1 of these Splurge meals per week even if there is not a holiday party planned.
So here is the plan...we will be keeping calories low on “normal” days, but then going much higher on “cheat” days. By keeping calories low, we will be creating a caloric deficit so your body must turn to body fat for fuel. BUT we will also be using resistance training (specialized workouts) to maintain and even increase the metabolism. This is backed by research that shows even when calories are dropped to RIDICULOUSLY low levels, lean body mass and metabolism are maintained and even increased – so long as there is resistance exercise as part of the program.
OK, no problem. You will be training 3 or more times per week. So we have that covered.
But remember what I said about leptin levels when you diet? They drop. And what happens when they drop? Fat loss stops.
That is where the cheats come in. We will use the cheats to up-regulate leptin levels. You see your body produces leptin when calories are high, and it does it fast too. So, that means even a short cheat can get leptin pumping again and get you ready to burn fat once again. Also, you need not worry about fat spill over either. Trust me when I say the likelihood of that is EXTREMELY slim.
To be a bit more specific, leptin levels are influenced by 2 main things: Caloric intake and muscle glycogen levels. Glycogen is the stored muscle sugar (carb), and is in general a good thing. When dieting and working out glycogen levels will fall as we exercise and the sugar is used to exercise.
You can think of your muscles like sponges. When you workout they get rung out. And that is just fine as it forces your body to use fat for fuel. But to get leptin levels up we should refill these glycogen tanks.
Again, this is where the cheat comes in. So let’s put it all together.
When we diet, calories and glycogen drop and thus so to do leptin levels. Then fat loss comes to a screeching halt. OK, let’s fix that with the cheat. A short cheat as close to your workout, but anytime within 6-12 hours will do the trick quite nicely. Leptin levels rise, and now you are in a perfect position to burn fat again.
So there we have it - a simple and effective solution. But we are not done. Let’s super charge it.
First, let’s really get you primed for the cheat. To do this we are going to perform a “depletion workout". Remember that muscles are like sponges? Well with the depletion workout we will ring them out. Getting the glycogen levels as low as possible. This does a few things, but the most important thing is now those muscle sponges will soak up your cheat calories (carbs specifically) like nobody’s business. The likelihood of fat spillover has just been obliterated. (That is also why it is next to impossible to overdo a cheat. Don’t go nuts, but enjoy.)
Now your glycogen levels are full, you have temporarily spiked your calories and leptin levels are now flying high. That means your fat burring potential is VERY high.
Now it is time to fire up your metabolic furnace with the “Ignition workout". This happens the day after the cheat. Because your leptin levels will be at their highest we need to take advantage of that and create a massive caloric deficit via getting back to the “normal” phase of our diet and attack the workout.
You should see a very simple pattern emerging:
Workout, Cheat Meal, Workout. You earn that cheat meal and then use the calories to incinerate your body fat.
So here is what an OPTIMAL Holiday Belly Burn week with a Friday cheat would look like.
Monday: Normal diet + workout
Tuesday: Normal diet
Wednesday: Normal diet + workout
Thursday: Normal diet
Friday: Normal diet until cheat /holiday meal + Depletion workout prior to cheat
Saturday: Normal diet + Ignition workout
Sunday: Normal diet
Also, optimally the depletion workout would be as close to the cheat as possible. Now this might not always work out (no pun intended) exactly like above, but the basic rule of thumb is:
EARN YOUR CHEAT, BURN YOUR CHEAT.
Don’t freak out if you can’t do a depletion workout at the studio. You’ll still be just fine. But if you can…The depletion workout does not need to be anything special. Remember the muscle are like a sponge. Just wring out the last remaining bit of glycogen with this little burner:
Basic Depletion Workout:
10 Squats – 10 Push Ups – 10 Sit Ups
20 Squats – 20 Push Ups – 20 Sit Ups
30 Squats – 30 Push Ups – 30 Sit Ups
20 Squats – 20 Push Ups – 20 Sit Ups
10 Squats – 10 Push Ups – 10 Sit Ups
These are the Basics. Stick to the “normal” diet on most days, cheat on specific days and workout with us 3-4 x per week. That’s it. Email me with any questions.
Bonus Fat Loss Tactic:
Expanding on the 8 hours feeding window principle (intermittent fasting) we can further accelerate the fat loss the day AFTER the cheat day by extending the non-eating period. This can simply be accomplished by not eating the day after the cheat until 5 or 6pm. At that time, you will just eat a “normal” dinner. Do not try to eat all of your calories at that one meal (so your numbers will be off on this one day), just eat the one meal that day and that’s it. Chances are after the cheat day you will not be hungry anyway, so this will probably be a lot easier than you think.