You know, there’s so much information out there on contest prep dieting. But one of the topics not really covered much gets into some of the more controversial opinions when it comes to meal plan set up. And more specifically, cheat meals during contest prep – when you should drop them, and when to actually include them. Let’s jump in and discuss how to use this tactic wisely.
Cheat Meals During Contest Prep: When to Include Them
So, you’ve embarked on a contest prep diet. You’re doing well, sticking to the plan. Weeks go by and you’ve been seeing some REALLY great progress! You’ve been getting leaner, and leaner. And you’re really seeing your body take off. You’re following ALL of the advice and programming your coach has given you. But then…
Suddenly everything grinds to a screeching halt!
It seems like nothing you do can make that scale drop again. Even doing more cardio makes you feel weak and exhausted, and even worse, doing very little to move the scale. Worried that you’re doomed for a long haul stall, you cut calories even further and that gets things moving once again!
For a few more weeks, everything seems fine! Then DAMN IT! Another plateau! Now, you have a few options in this case.
- Cut calories further.
- Do more cardio.
- Do a combination of both.
- Up your calories a bit by way of a cheat meal.
What I would do in this situation with any contest prep client of mine is to err on the side of feeding my competitor MORE, and throw in that cheat meal.
Raising Calories Can Help to BOOST Fat Loss
You know, sometimes the best next step for those who’ve hit a plateau isn’t racing to cut calories down. Sometimes, the best next step is actually upping calories! During phases of dieting, the body downregulates a host of hormones that slow down the metabolism. Your body is literally fighting AGAINST you when it comes to your fat loss efforts. And the only way to gently coax it back on track is by way of upping calories.
Cheat meals present a great opportunity for this.Cheat meals are important during contest prep to help boost metabolism! Click To Tweet
Now, keep in mind, when I say cheat meal, I don’t mean that you are going to be gorging down on some crazy food. Or that you’ll be getting out of control. That’s probably one of the main reasons why folks often lose control, and throw themselves off track.
The purpose of this SINGLE MEAL is to help raise calories for the day to hit closer to maintenance. It’s in doing this that allows the body to upregulate those hormones responsible for metabolism. Thereby giving you that metabolic boost you need to continue to lose fat! And at the end of the day, that’s the purpose of this meal.
Now, I know some of you are reading this like, “Roxie, I get WAY out of control with my cheat meals – so I can’t have any.”
To that, I simply say suck it up and grow up!
Ok, that was a little harsh, but I’m serious! You’ve got to think about your long term goals, and keep your discipline in tact because you have a GOAL. And getting on stage in a smart way is one of those goals. To help you out, here are my general rules for cheat meals.
Roxie’s General Cheat Meal Rules
- Plan it out! Never go into a cheat meal situation without knowing what you’ll be eating. This helps to keep binging to a minimum.
- Have it as your final meal of the day. It’s easier to get back on track the next day if the cheat is your final meal. You’ll be super full by the end of the day, and have less of an urge to overindulge.
- It’s best to order out, or go to your favorite spot than cook at home. Having leftovers can be a dangerous temptation. You want to be one and done with your cheat meal.
- It doesn’t have to be gluttonous or dirty. You can have a cheat meal of whatever you wish. Remember the goal is to simply raise calories. So even simply increasing the foods already on your plan, and maybe throwing in a bit of something extra that you crave, is a smart cheat meal strategy.
- Get BACK on plan right away! In order to stay in control and not completely kill your diet as a whole, it’s important to get back on it immediately. Your next meal after the cheat should be the next one on your plan.
Cheat Meals During Prep: When to Drop Them
Now, I’d love to say that some of you can go into your contest prep, all the way to the end enjoying weekly cheat meals. But the truth of the matter is that’s not the case for most.
In general, when I’m setting up a client’s contest prep plan, I like to start with enough time to allow for freedom at the beginning of the diet.
16 to 20 weeks out is PERFECT, and allows this kind of flexibility. At that point, clients are enjoying weekly free meals (what I prefer to call cheat meals – as it has a more positive connotation). I give the client the same guidelines above, and they have no problems with sticking to them.
What’s awesome is that very rarely will the client hit a plateau.
Fat loss and weight/measurement drops are seen weekly during their check-ins. But there comes point in time during their prep that we have to get more strict, and more strategic about how we program their diet.
I normally cut cheat meals back for clients starting around 9 to 8 weeks out.
And it’s at this time that I instruct the client to instead move this to every other week. What this allows is for the client to spend more time in a caloric deficit phase, and thus really push fat loss. And we have the cheat meal in there every two weeks to prevent plateaus – as well as boost the metabolism.
There is also the benefit of better dietary adherence at this point when the competitor is pretty hungry.
By about 6 weeks out, we start to move more into carb cycling and using refeeds instead of cheat meals. I love taking this kind of approach because it allows us to literally run a peak week over and over again. Perfecting the process so that by the final week of the show, we are LITERALLY sailing in.
Final Tips on Cheat Meals During Contest Prep
Knowing when to drop cheat meals is all about what your body needs! Here are a few extra things to think about as you figure out when is the right time to drop them.
- Those with higher metabolisms may NEED weekly cheat meals to keep muscle on. Experiment and see what works for you, especially if you are feeling like you’re losing too much muscle.
- If you have a more “normal” to slower metabolism, the above advice in this article is perfect for you.
- I’d say for slower metabolisms you may want to switch to bi-weekly cheat meals a bit sooner. So at 11 to 10 weeks out, do them every other week. Drop them and focus more on high carb refeeds at around 8 to 6 weeks out or so.
- Experiment with the type of cheat meal that works best for you. Look at more of a “meal” and avoid sugary desserts, cakes, ice-cream and things that have less nutritional value overall. I always say think more “savory” and less “sweet” when it comes to food choices.
- Don’t go overboard! Stay in control so that you can stay right on track.
Are You Ready to REALLY Take Your Prep to the Next Level – Through a SMARTER Approach to Nutrition?
Let’s face it… It’s CRAZY that in our day and time, people are STILL adhering to old school bodybuilding methods that have proven to do more long-term harm than good. Especially for women! So why are you still following those same ole protocols?
- I want to show you that prepping for a show absolutely does NOT mean eating asparagus and tilapia for every meal.
- That cheat meal CAN be and ARE an integral part of your contest prep diet.
- How to have energy to train, and look forward to every workout and meal as you prep for your show.
- That you can do things the HEALTHY AND SMART WAY when it comes to getting ready for your upcoming bikini, figure, or women’s physique competition.
If you’re feeling stuck with your current approach to contest prep, or perhaps you’re ready to hop in and want to do one of the best preps of your life… One where you actually see your body, shape, and muscularity IMPROVE all while you get leaner… Then you have to check out my Contest Prep Crash Course eBook – FOR FREE!
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- But more importantly, to approach your contest prep training and diet in a way that will consider your health, sanity, motivation, and more.
- You can STILL bring a winning physique to the stage, even when you do things the right way.
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Take the next step in bringing out your best this contest prep season, download my FREE ebook today. And guess what… Your training for your contest prep season actually starts in your OFF SEASON! So even if you are about to lay low from hitting the stage – THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE!