“Go have a triple whopper from Burger King with fries.”
– Says coach.
“Wait, I don’t want a burger, and I haven’t had a free meal in 6 weeks, does it have to be a whopper”.
“Yes, the whopper is a food that your body hasn’t seen, so it’s going to rev up your metabolism.”
The conversation you just read was between a close friend of mine and her “coach” last year.
Sweet Oden’s raven, where do I begin…
First off, the idea of a “cheat meal,” serves no metabolic benefit.
It can, however, serve a significant psychological impact, yet I’m not a fan, especially in a diet phase.
I’m not a fan because it establishes this “reward mentality.”
We’re not dogs, and we don’t need our coaches to pat us on the head and give us a “treat” for our good work.”
The idea that a cheat meal might be your last opportunity to enjoy foods for a while almost always results in excess binging (which can be damaging to our goals), is an antiquated, and counterproductive.
This is where the adjunct of a REFEED comes into play.
An increased feeding window, primarily coming from carbohydrates.
Also – there are times when severe depletion comes into play, which the combination of high fat/ high carb can help an athlete “fill out,” but we’ll touch on that later.
Refeeds can provide the following benefits.
✅ Acute upregulation t3>t4 conversion, as well as NEAT.
✅ Restore depleted glycogen stores.
✅ Increase in intercellular water (good thing; you’ll look fuller and more jacked).
✅ Regulate ghrelin (hunger signaling)
✅ Up-regulate leptin stores which sites shrink as BF reduces, and a deficit is recognized.
✅ Aid in neurotransmitter regulation (mainly dopamine) and sympathetic nervous system suppression which both can become compromised while dieting.
✅ Much needed mental break to include foods which you might not be able to responsibly “fit” into your dieting macros.
There is a difference as to how a pop-tart and a potato will affect our long term physiology, however acutely speaking, a calorie is just a calorie.
Just because you ate clean all week, doesn’t mean you are exempt from going over your regular energy intake for the week.
One dirty meal will not put you over (free dinner), but in LARGE QUANTITIES (i.e.: cheat meal/ binge) – it most certainly will.
So “free meal” and “refeed” responsibly my friends, and you really can have your cake and eat it too.
Just don’t listen to dip-shit coaches who tell you to eat whoppers, tilapia, asparagus, or any other magical fairy foods that the twat says hold special powers.
Eat foods you enjoy, prioritize micronutrients, rich, fibrous varieties, and don’t be an asshole.