How to Manage Your Figure Prep Cheat Meal
A figure prep cheat meal can be the little exciting part of your contest prep diet if you have been strict and focused. While a cheat meal in a effective tool to use for fat loss, it is also an earned event. Quite literally, a cheat meal could make or break you. If you use it right, as a tool, it works at burning body fat like crazy. If you abuse it, you’ll pack on the fat and never make it to the competitive stage.
Setting the Stage to Earn a Cheat Meal
Before you even start a contest prep plan, your body fat has to be in check. A contest prep diet is to lose fat and fine-tune your physique. You have only 12 weeks to do that. Your body fat should not be higher than 25%, and that’s high for a competitor. If your body fat is 25% or higher, you need to lose body fat first, before you even start your prep diet. Diet the excess body fat off first. When you reach the 20% body fat mark, then you are in the contest diet prep zone. A prep diet is about conditioning. That’s why the lower your body fat when you start your prep, the better you will be on contest day.
The Start of the Prep Diet Journey
Here we go. You’ve been on your prep diet for a few weeks. It’s working great. You, and others, notice your body fat dropping. You are looking great, feeling great, and your workouts are amazing! Then BAM, out of now where the changes stop, the scale is even stuck. All that hard work has come to a screeching halt.
The Rookie Plateau Fix
If you are new to the sport, you probably make a lot of rookie mistakes. One of the mistakes a competitor makes when the diet plateaus is the competitor cuts calories. It sounds logical. It’s what you did to get to this point.
In addition to the caloric drop, the competitor kicks-up the cardio. After all, adding cardio has helped the fat loss up to this point. So it makes perfect sense to lower calories and kill the cardio.
Two more weeks pass by and still no change. Oh wait, there is change. You are weak, exhausted, and starving. Listen, contest prep is not about beating your body to death with cardio and starving it. Too many competitors are getting on stage with little muscle and strung-out from starving themselves and doing excessive cardio. The purpose of this article is to prevent and correct this dieting issue. Let’s get to the fix.
Solution – Up the Ante
If you have fallen to rookie dieting mistakes, a figure prep cheat meal could be your salvation. A good ole’ fashion cheat meal can pull you out of the rut and get your metabolism on fire again. I know it sounds counter productive, but hear me out on this. Simply by eating out of the norm and getting your calories way up for a short amount of time can help boost fat loss. Simplyshredded.com chimes in, “As long as you are following your diet plan perfectly, a cheat meal is not just allowed, it’s encouraged.” Note the key word, perfectly. If you aren’t 100% on your prep diet, you didn’t earn a cheat.
Why increase calories? Listen, your body doesn’t want to lose fat. It certainly doesn’t want to get in the single digits body fat percentage range. It’s not the norm, so it’s going to fight your every step of the way. You have to be prepared for this. When you diet down your body reduces hormones and slows down the metabolism because it thinks you are starving. It doesn’t know you are prepping for a show. Your body is doing you a favor, it thinks, and is trying to keep you alive. Therefore, the only way to regain control is to eat, eat out of the norm. This is your chance to get in some of the sinful food you wasn’t suppose to have before.
How to Implement a Figure Prep Cheat Meal the Right Way
To get your body fat dropping again, you need to eat. You need to trick your body into thinking it’s being fed, and fed well. We have a small window of opportunity to do that. There are a couple of different ways to tackle this.
This option is one cheat meal, just one meal. This one cheat meal can be anything you want. It can be a clean, high-calorie meal such as 6-oz steak, loaded mashed potatoes, and a house salad. Another choice is eat junk food such as pizza, a hamburger, or any other sinful food you have been denying yourself. You’ve been dieting weeks on end, ONE dirty cheat meal is not going to hurt you. In fact, it’s going to send your metabolism blazing through the roof. The trick to this cheat meal option is you must get back on your prep diet after your cheat meal.
This choice, option 2, is a full cheat day. Yes, you would take the entire day off of your prep diet and eat what you want, when you want, in the amount that you want. The trick here, it’s just one day. If you go over the 24 hour mark, you have made a mistake and it could backfire. After 24 hours on your cheat day you must resume your prep diet. If you take any longer than a day, you will have defeated the purpose.
When to Stop Having Cheat Meals and Cheat Days
At some point, most competitors will have to stop their cheats in order to pull in nice and tight on contest day. There is a small percentage of genetically-gifted people or those who have been super diligent with nutrition for years that can get away with a cheat close to a contest. To be your best, just don’t attempt a cheat close to a show.
This is one reason competitors diet 12 weeks or longer. The extra time allows for them to have a little wiggle room in their diet in the beginning. The more time you give yourself to prep, the more flexibility you have. But, every good thing has to come to an end. When it comes to controlled cheating, it’s good to stop them about 6 weeks out. At this point, it’s ideal to use a re-feed meal or a re-feed day rather than an actual cheat.
A re-feed day runs in the same pattern as a cheat. However, with a re-feed day you just eat more calories from your healthy contest prep meals rather than cheating. Such things as carb-cycling can be tinkered with, but not to extreme. You have to keep a tight check on your physique.
How to Take Your Figure Prep to the Next Level
Contest prep is rigid. You are going to be on stage in less than a yard of material. You will be standing under bright stage lights with a panel of judges deciding how you measure up to the competitors standing next to you. It is 100% absolutely critical that you get on a contest prep diet that’s going to strip the body fat off of you. While your diet does need to be rigid, know that you can still have a cheat here and there, provided you earned it. The trick in contest prep is to not carry all your eggs in a basket at one time. Always leave something to fall back on.
Now, if you want more guidance on your goal to competing, check out my Contest Prep Crash Course below. It will give you an insiders look into what you are going to be doing to get stage-ready.
Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT
Thanks for reading over my article! I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions you can contact me directly using the “Contact Link” at the top of the page. I answer all emails.
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