Last updated on November 21st, 2021 at 11:00 am
In my eyes cheat meals and indulgences should be a part of every single diet.
They’ve been a part of mine ever since I started SHJ, regardless of which particular diet I was guinea pig testing (and that’s been a lot).
For example, while I was using daily intermittent fasting and strict low carb system I was still incorporating carb reloading to support that, and add in the cheat meals I wanted.
That worked not only to benefit my performance levels but also to give me something to look forward to while on such a strict system.
Nowadays I’m working with the specific calorie counting system, combined with intermittent fasting and indulgences that we utilize in our SHJ Superhuman System 4-Tier-Nutrition-System.
That’s a lot of systems…
The problem is that some peoples versions of cheat meals and indulgences are much different than what mine are.
So, in order to give you an idea of how we incorporate cheat meals and daily indulgences in order to not only make our nutrition more sustainable, but also more efficient and effective, I wanted to give you a breakdown and guide on just how we do this.
Celebrities Using Indulgences
In my book Superhuman Secrets we talk a lot about how often the top celebrities utilize indulgences within their daily diets.
And yes, all while looking and feeling incredible.
There’s actually a handful of them that make specific mention to it; stating it as a very essential must.
Some of those celebrities include:
But that’s just a small list of many.
There are also a ton that don’t even feel the need to make mention of it because it’s just the norm for them.
Sure, some celebrities might choose to give up a little extra when they’re preparing for a role, but you can be certain that the celebrities that continue to come back in better shape each and every time are sustaining it for the long haul.
And that involves a system to make it sustainable; including eating what they love (like Jason Momoa and Guinness, for example).
On top of these examples there are countless women who mention adding in chocolate and specific indulgences on a near daily basis (think wine or some type of treat).
Why? Because it makes the entire process more sustainable and doesn’t effect your overall goal.
But everyone has their own way of doing it, so next up on the list is actually discussing some of the variations of involving cheat meals and indulgences.
Again, my personal favorite is including them on a daily basis, and that’s how we do it in The Superhuman System.
Different Ways To Leverage Cheat Meals and Indulgences
The first thing we need to understand is that regardless of our nutrition plan: calories are still going to matter.
Yes, that means regardless of whether we’re using keto or intermittent fasting, or anything else for that matter, we still need to be aware of our overall caloric intake.
For that reason, if you don’t have a good understanding of how this works I would immediately suggest starting with our SHJ Guide to Calorie Counting.
Once we have a foundation in place and know how we’re going to be losing fat and gaining muscle, we can begin to start leveraging our cheat meals and indulgences in a more effective way.
Example One: The Carb Reload
Knowing we still need to be under our overall caloric intake even if we’re utilizing ketosis allows us to plan ahead for a surplus of calories on our carb reload day (or at the very least know we can’t exceed our daily intake).
This approach, which we’ve seen Dwayne Johnson utilize at some points, involves staying extremely strict throughout the week so that you are generally way under your caloric intake, then replenish your carbohydrates with room to spare for an excess amount of calories.
It’s a bit tricky being that most people are doing this without specific tracking, but it can definitely work for people, and it’s something we leverage quite effectively within The Academy.
That being said, it’s not my favorite.
I personally like to know where I stand every day and every week rather than playing a bit of a guessing game and hoping my overall activity level and weekly restriction will be enough to allow for my weekly indulgence.
For that reason I actually build my diet around indulging daily.
Example Two: The Daily Indulgence Method
This is actually what we see most utilized by celebrities and top performers.
Some of them call it The 80/20 Method, some of them make mention to indulgences, some of them make mention to cheat meals, and some even just make mention to a very specific food or treat they allow themselves to have within their plan.
For myself, I like to build this method around “free calories”.
The way I set this up is like this: If I hit my overall protein goal (or know I’m going to because I planned my day ahead of time) the extra calories I have for the day can be used towards whatever foods I’d like.
This is actually how we do it inside The Superhuman System as well, but we help you plan it a bit more than this.
But we can take it an example further: let’s say I ate Chipotle, a protein shake and some chicken and now I hit my protein goal but I still have 500 calories left for the day, while being under my BMR by 500 (refer to the calorie guide if I lost you on this part) to stay within my cutting calories. I would now be able to utilize those 500 calories as “free calories” to indulge or fit in other vitamins or nutrients my body is craving.
And voila, rinse and repeat daily and you can eat virtually whatever you’d like….on a daily basis!
Oh, and the best part? We tested MUCH lower daily protein levels for The Superhero Physique being that it has a very specific goal in mind, and it allows us to free up even more calories day in and day out.
Which is why SHJ Army members like Bri and Nick are able to lose over 100 pounds each and continue sustaining their transformations for the long haul…
Example Three: The Weekly Cheat Meal
This is another method that is actually quite popular.
Again, it can be a little tricky because a lot of people end up being very lenient with it and turn it into a “I’ll just eat whatever I want for a day” or an hour, or whatever they decide.
This isn’t that efficient, and can actually turn your diet upside down (we’ll discuss that later).
But, if done right it can be really effective.
This is something Dwayne Johnson does when you see him eat those really big weekly cheat meals!
Here’s an example of how it is done effectively:
If your overall intake per day needs to be at 2,000 calories in order to drop a pound or so a week, then you would drop that down to 1,750 per day and be able to eat an extra 1,500 calories one day per week (your cheat day) while still dropping the same amount of weight.
Boom, boom, pow; genius, right?
This is something we do for some of our Superhuman System members, but if I’m being honest most of them like the daily indulgences better once they get the hang of it.
How Cheat Meals Can Destroy Your Goals
Okay, now it’s time to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.
Minus the good; which leaves us with just the bad and the ugly, actually.
This is how cheat meals can absolutely destroy your goals.
I’ll start with a picture, and then I’ll continue with my own equation for us (separate from the image) that is right off the top of my head as to not cheat the system (whatever system that may be…).
Now let’s go through a week of eating and see how another weekend binger that started as a small cheat meal or cheat day can completely kill your entire week’s worth of work….
Maintenance Level for Example: 2,500 (the amount of calories we’d need to eat to maintain weight)
Calories for Losing One pound a week for Example: 2,000
Weekly Average: 2,571
With just two days of indulging too much you can easily turn your “weight loss diet” into one that is going in the opposite direction.
And for those of you who think it’s too much to assume people can DOUBLE their caloric intake on days of indulging: I promise you this is being generous!
Adding 2,000 calories to your day when you begin to lose focus can be done with a trip out to eat at a local restaurant, or a trip to the movie theater with some popcorn and bags of candy.
It really is quite easy (I know from experience).
Tack this on the fact that calorie counting can never be as precise as we’d like it to be and we’re in hot water with our diet on a weekly basis.
Cheat Meals Aren’t Really “Cheating” If You Use Them Right
Now I should start by saying that the above example of cheat meals being able to destroy your diet is just ONE example of that.
If you utilize daily cheat meals the wrong way they can also destroy your diet.
For example, if you say “Oh what does it matter, I’ll just have a couple bites of ice cream, Mike said daily indulgences are good!” and that increases your daily intake by 200-300 calories and then multiply that by 5 days a week and all of a sudden you’ve essentially voided all your hard work.
So one thing I want to make extremely clear, if I wasn’t already doing that: there is a right way and a wrong way to use cheat meals.
For the sake of this article we’re going to say:
- Planned Cheat Meals = Good
- Unplanned Cheat Meals = Bad
Let’s talk about what that means.
In the above examples we talked about cheat meals and indulgences that included:
- Daily “Free” Calories = Planned
- This involves leaving room in our daily plan to indulge on whatever we want with our “free calories” after hitting our important targets.
- Weekly Cheat Meal Based On Extra Daily Calorie Deficit = Planned
- This involved being in a larger deficit 5-6 days a week to be able to eat an extra 1000-1500+ calories on a given day you have planned to indulge “extra”.
- Weekly Carb Reloads One Day Per Week = Planned
- This involves using keto during the rest of the week and ingulging with carb reloads once per week. This is best used when combined with tracking, but either way it is planned.
And then let’s compare that to the unplanned variations that destroy our diets and weight loss:
- Daily “Cheat Meals” Without Tracking = Unplanned
- If you don’t know what you’re consuming you can EASILY put yourself over 1000 calories in one bag of candy at the theater. A couple times a week and all of a sudden you’re gaining weight instead of losing all while working hard the rest of the time.
- Weekly Binges = Unplanned
- Sometimes weekly cheat meals can turn into weekend bingers. Two days out of the week, whether it’s fancy restaurants with a ton of butter and toppings, fast food runs, or beers and drinks; can all destroy diets and make the other 5-6 days meaningless.
That being said, depending on how you look at it, being that cheat meals require you to plan ahead of time in order to free up you’re diets to eat whatever you want, they aren’t really actually “cheating” they’re just enabling you to eat the food that people would normally consider “cheat meals”.
Why Are Cheat Meals Effective?
So, at the end of our discussion about cheat meals, I want to wrap it up with why they are so damn effective.
I probably don’t even have to add this section considering most people are going to WANT to indulge with their favorite foods (or at the very least be able to insert whatever YOU want to eat with your free daily calories like we do with our Superhuman System), but I’m going to rant a bit anyway.
Here at SHJ, regardless of which program you’re a part of (most our members are with us inside The Academy and our Superhuman System), we preach sustainability.
Without sustainability, what’s the point?
We’re in this for the long haul.
Did you know ninety percent of people who lose weight gain it back?
Well, we’re pushing to change that number. Our systems are all built around sustaining our Superhuman transformations for LIFE.
We’ve seen members like Mike drop 60 pounds to come back and get absolutely SHREDDED and sustain it for YEARS now with us inside our programs.
Cheat meals and indulgences, when used correctly, allow you to live the life you want to live while eating what you want to eat, spending time with friends and family without restrictions and have the system YOU want, all while achieving your goals.
There’s no reason to overly restrict yourself. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.
Until next time,
SHJ’s Nick Fury