Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss

Ep 140: The Freedom of No More Cheat Meals

January 23, 2024 Philip Pape Episode 140
Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss
Ep 140: The Freedom of No More Cheat Meals
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you tired of the guilt and restriction of so-called cheat meals? What if you could eat what you want and still be healthy?

Today, Philip (@witsandweights) challenges the cheat meal mentality and helps you reframe the language around it. He talks about exploring a more balanced and sustainable approach to eating to help you say goodbye to food guilt and cheat meals and hello to a healthier emotional relationship with food.

Today, you’ll learn all about:

0:00 Intro
4:26 What is a cheat meal
7:53 Cheat meal as a reward
9:21 Increased cravings and binge eating
13:31 Flexible dieting
16:21 Manageable calorie restriction
17:45 Consistent tracking
24:23 Outro


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Philip Pape:

Are you tired of the guilt and restriction that comes with so called cheat meals? Today, we are challenging the cheat meal mentality and exploring a more balanced, sustainable approach to eating and a reframe of our language. Say goodbye to food, guilt and cheat meals and hello to a healthier emotional relationship with food in today's episode Welcome to the Wits & Weights podcast. I'm your host Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Wits & Weights community Welcome to another solo episode of the Wits & Weights podcast in our last episode 139 Female strength resistance training hormones and muscle growth with Lauren Kilonzo simple, we dived into the latest research and strategies on female specific topics, including the menstrual cycle and strength training, satellite cells and muscle growth, low energy availability machines versus free weights and functional training plus bonus content on how to get started lifting with machine weights available only to our insiders email list. Just go to wits & weights.com/bonus. If you haven't yet, join that list, it's totally free, or click the link in the shownotes. Again, that's wits & weights.com/bonus to join the insider email list. Today for episode 140. The freedom of no more cheat meals we are tackling what is a pet peeve of mine, and that is cheat meals, both the concept itself and also the term. I think this term is used often and not always in the right context and sometimes in the right context. And we're going to explore both of those. We'll explore why moving away from the cheat meal mentality can be so beneficial for your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and how this ties into a flexible sustainable approach to dieting, like we talked about on the show. Now before we dive into the topic, I wanted to mention an awesome new feature that I just implemented on my website called the podcast finder. Right now we're at 140 episodes and counting. And I know it can be hard to find the exact episodes that you want to listen to. on a specific topic, we have new listeners joining all the time. As much as they want to binge all those episodes, there are a lot and cover a lot of different topics. And since those episodes, including the show notes, and the full transcripts are on my website, I decided to add a Google powered search feature. So you can quickly find what you're looking for. All you have to do is go to wits & weights.com/podcast, and then scroll down to the podcast finder. That's wits & weights.com/podcast for the podcast finder, or click the link in the show notes for the podcast finder. And then you can find any topic you want across all those episodes. Now we talked about cheat meals. And we talked about sustainable approach to dieting. Now when I say dieting, I understand that I mean a few things. I mean, either your diet, which is simply the food that you eat, or dieting, as in being in a calorie deficit with the intent of losing fat while holding on to muscle. Either way, it's still a form of restriction. Now, that restriction in the sense that you want to make smart balance choices about what goes into your mouth, to maintain that calorie deficit, not to mention all the non food decisions like your training, step count, or hydration, supplements and so on. All of these can have an impact on your mindset, and your psychology that ties into this idea of cheat meals. So I'm laying the foundation, the fact that we need to be in a calorie deficit, to lose fat. And that that calorie deficit is a form of restriction. And that sometimes we need relief from that restriction, or fatigue, right diet fatigue is sometimes called. And this leads to the concept of cheat meals for many. Now, I don't use cheat meals, I don't use the term cheat meals, and my clients don't use or need cheat meals to be successful ever. And that is what today's episode is all about and why I'm calling it the freedom of no more cheat meals. So first, I want to dive into what they are. What is a cheat meal? How does it impact our mindset? I saw real recently that said, you know, stop hating on cheap meals, you know, you've got to use them learn in our diet. It's just a refeed. But I think there's something insidious about the term itself that can be destructive. And again, if you're the five 10% of people who just use it kind of in a different way, and it doesn't have that meaning to you. Great. All right. I'm not who I am this you're not the person I'm speaking to. I am defining cheat meals today. As a meal that deviates from your nutrition plan, that is typically high in indulgence foods, which usually means more, you know, carbs, fats, sodium, sometimes sugar. And they're often seen as a way to indulge in foods that you crave, while otherwise adhering to a quote unquote, clean diet that is absent of those foods. Very important definition the way I defined it, that means most of the time you're eating in a way that is quite restrictive. And then you save up for this cheat meal, not save up, but mentally you're waiting. And the cheat meal comes in how you eat whatever you want. And it's all the things you could quote unquote, couldn't eat the rest of the time. Okay, this is the problem. The problem is with labeling foods, as binary as good or bad. And the word cheat is exactly doing that. Because when you cheat, it means you are doing something bad that deviates from something good, right? Just think of any other context of cheating. And you can't help but agree with what I'm saying. All right, now, there's a difference between cheat meals, and refeeds refeeds refeeds are controlled, pre planned increases in calories. As part of your overall calorie intake. That's all they are usually in the form of increasing carbs. You can do it for calorie cycling for psychological relief. But it's not the same as saying I'm going to cut and restrict certain foods, and then I'm going to indulge and binge on those foods for my cheat meal. Very different concepts. Both Yes, are intended to provide psychological relief. But refeeds they're usually at least a full day or multiple days in a row. And they are just a scaled up version of an otherwise normal day, usually by increasing carbs. But not necessarily by gorging on indulgences, or cravings that you've restricted on other days, mainly because you're not restricting those on a sustainable diet. So if you're doing this sustainably, you are incorporating indulgences regularly. Anyway, there's no need to quote unquote, cheat, but you may increase calories in a strategic way, for a refeed to different things. So when we when we label foods is good or bad, we're setting ourselves up for a negative relationship with eating right this is when people say I have an emotional eating problem or a negative emotional relationship with food. That's what they're talking about. This is a black and white thinking it's an on off switch. It's feelings of guilt and failure when you choose the food that is that is off limits, right that you're not allowed to have that is, quote unquote, bad. And this is completely counterproductive. It stranger moral conscience is the term that I think that was what Alexander Alan Aragon used in his book, flexible dieting. Because you are bad if you choose a bad food, right, and now you're putting a label on yourself. The other way that cheat meals are used is as a reward, right? It's a reward for like sticking to your diet or sticking to your training or exercise. And this is something called operant, conditioning conditioning, or misapplication thereof, because instead of getting the proper reward for your training, which is I'm stronger, I'm building muscle, I'm performing better, you're actually rewarding that action with something not related. And in fact, that not only not related, right, with a cheat meal, but as an opposition to the goal of your fitness program, which is, you know, to be consistent, to be strong to perform to improve to be an athlete to train all those things well, cheating, and indulging in whatever is and using that as a reward for fitness is perverse. You know, it's a perverse incentive, if you will. So just keep that in mind. Now, research has shown that cheat meals can lead to binge eating to excessive calorie consumption to guilt, shame, negative impacts on future food choices, to cancelling out your calorie deficit, right? Okay, I'm gonna have a cheat meal. I've been quote unquote good all week, and I'm gonna reward myself and all of a sudden you just wipe out the calorie deficit, because it's not a plan in strategic thing like we do with, for example, refeeds and calorie cycling in a sustainable diet. Research shows that cheap meals can increase cravings and make sticking to a diet more difficult because now, all those days when you're trying to quote unquote, stick to this very monk, like, austere, you know, eating pattern, you're just thinking about that cheat meal and your cravings go up. It's it's counterproductive for the very thing that it's supposed to help with, which is the psychological relief. So by strictly avoiding certain foods, you're now going to have stress related over eating. Anytime you get stressed, you're going to go hog wild, you're going to not be able to control yourself, right? And you're going to experience more psychological Stress and become more prone to binge eating. Now, does this sound familiar? Does this sound familiar we, we haven't really gotten into that much discussion on the show about all of those negative emotional impacts of rigid dieting, but it's there. It might seem that cheat meals provide psychological benefits similar to refeeds, because they give you a break from strict dieting and thus prevent binge eating. But the irony is they actually trigger binge eating episodes, because they are paired with absolute restriction of the foods in question outside of the cheat meal window. So I'm saying this in multiple ways to get it into your head, something that I didn't get for many, many years, it didn't understand this, I thought cheat meals were a way to make it sustainable, but it actually does the opposite. The use of cheat meals implies by definition, just think of the word cheat. It implies by definition that you're otherwise continuously dieting with a rigid level of restriction, or you've got food rules. And now you're cheating on those rules. Just like when you cheat on a game, or you cheat on a person, right, you're breaking the rules. And that is not sustainable. Whereas a flexible diet, we always talk about where you incorporate indulgences, you incorporate cravings, as part of the diet itself. Diet, okay. And by incorporate, I don't mean in an excessive amount, and you're always eating quote, unquote, cheat meal type meals, oh, you're including a little here a little there, you're planning it, and you're planning for the calories and macros, and therefore, you don't feel restricted. Right? Then you can combine those with other forms of psychological relief, like controlled refeeds. And these are going to be much more effective long term. Hey, this is Philip. And I hope you're enjoying this episode of Wits & Weights, I started Wits, & Weights to help people who want to build muscle lose fat and actually look like they lift. I've noticed that when people improve their strength and physique, they not only look and feel better, they transform other areas of their life, their health, their mental resilience and their confidence in everything they do. And since you're listening to this podcast, I assume you want the same things the same success, whether you recently started lifting, or you've been at this for a while and want to optimize and reach a new level of success. Either way, my one on one coaching focused on engineering your physique, and body composition is for you. If you want expert guidance and want to get results faster, easier, and with fewer frustrations along the way to actually look like you lift, go to wits & weights.com, and click on coaching, or use the link in my show notes to apply today. I'll ask you a few short questions to decide if we're a good fit. And if we are, we'll get you started this week. Now back to the show. So this concept of cheat meals, it's clear that it's widespread, right. And it's all over social media. And then it even gets skewed even more in a negative direction when influencers glorify the eating of over indulgent foods, as if that itself is healthy in some way. And then it normalizes it even encourages these unhealthy eating behaviors. It's just all wrong. It's all wrong. And we don't need that you don't need cheat meals, you don't need the term cheat meals. We don't need to glorify processed foods, you know, and say that, look, a healthy diet can just have unlimited processed foods, if you can use cheat meals. It's just wrong. So that's my opinion. But I think it's also supported by the evidence. And I wanted to lay out the case, before we get into what do we do instead? Right? So what do we do instead? Well, when we talk about flexible dieting, and those who follow this podcast know what this is, but it's always good to have a refresher. We're talking about balance, focusing on macronutrients and objective measures and outcomes and things that serve you and your goals, right? The micronutrients, the macronutrients, the energy balance, instead of off limit foods, right? It's not about whether you eat this or that. It's a sustainable approach where you have variety, and you have moderation, and you can stick to the long term. Now, I don't want balance and moderation to be confused with things like the food pyramid pyramid, or the government plate idea, or, you know, just just eat in moderation, quote, unquote, and these platitudes and these generic concepts because that's not the same as having something that is in balance for your goals. A good example of that is protein. Right? In my episode where I did about the dangers of low protein for longevity, I talked about how most people have like 10% in their diet is protein, and it really should end up being around 25 to 35 40% of your diet, if you have enough for muscle building muscle preservation, optimal health, but people see that as a high level of protein as opposed to just a balance level protein. So even the definition of balance can be skewed depending on your context. And the point here is it's not about eliminating foods, but understanding how different foods it into your nutritional goals, right. So we are going to have, for example, realistic macro targets, we are going to have realistic rate of loss when we're in a fat loss phase, we're going to have realistic calorie and carb cycling, if that's something you need for you, I just did a client check in today, a longtime client who typically has evenly distribute evenly distributed calories. And she had gone through my Rapid Fat Loss experiment a while back, just to try it out. And she liked the idea of having refeed days how you on days that are fairly routine during your week, where you can eat, you know, leftovers, and you've meal prep and meal planned. If you're in a fat loss phase, it's pretty easy to go with a lower level of calories on those days, and and sort of bank or save, quote unquote, those calories for the higher days. Now, again, we're not talking cheat meals, we're talking, reducing the calories and you're on your weekdays by let's say a couple 100 calories a day, which is not that meaningful to shift those calories and cycle them over to either your training days or the night before morning session, or to your weekends for your lifestyle, whatever makes sense from a psychological and a preference perspective, so that you can be sustainable with your diet. Again, that is totally different from cheat meals where anything goes where you've restricted, and now you're allowing any allowing things in having said that, when you're in a fat loss phase, you're still restricting something and that is the calories you are you are restricting the calories. But we try to make that restriction as manageable and least negative on you and your mind as possible. We do it. We do it through multiple ways we do it by, you know, going at a proper rate of loss. We're doing it by including high satiety and volume foods. We do it by making sure you do have indulgences planned in regularly, so that you never crave or binge or overeat or need a cheat meal, we do it by increasing your expenditure and your activity level as it makes sense. But not too much where you get too much stress. We do it by sleeping more, we do it by potentially reducing alcohol, all of those things to make it more sustainable, even during fat loss. But we never say you can't eat this, or you can't eat that to the point where you're going to now crave it so much that you get off the diet. By the way, this is probably the number one reason people jump off of their diet, they do crash diets, they go lose a lot of weight quickly. And all of a sudden they crave sugar, fats, carbs, sodium, and they just start eating everything in sight, or at least a lot of the things that they had cut out to get to that point, because they're like, I can't do this for the rest of my life, and compounded by muscle loss and all the other things that people do when they're not training that causes them to eat even more, and you get the idea. Okay. So another thing that we want to do is we want to have consistent tracking, right, if you regularly track your intake of calories, or macros, you track your food, you're tracking macros, in something like macro factor, which I can never shut up about, because it's such a great tool for the job. If you download macro factor, you use my code Wits & Weights regularly tracking your intake gives you awareness to understand your body's needs. Without feeling restricted. This gives you the ability to make informed choices. And you don't have to then have a set of rules that you would then be to cheat from makes sense, like cheating is only because you have restrictive rules that you're trying to get away from for a day or for a meal. We don't need to do that. Because you're tracking you know how much protein you eat, you know how much you know, fiber you're getting, you know, that on Saturday, I'm gonna have more calories, and I'm gonna plan in that cheesecake, or that pizza on a planet in, I'm gonna go I'm gonna do us a little bit of time restricted feeding to make it work, right, whatever way is sustainable for you. So consistency, flexible mindset, constantly reviewing what you're doing and gaining getting biofeedback, assessing your progress, making adjustments, ensuring that your diet aligns with your evolving goals and lifestyle, it's not fixed, that's the other thing. The next three weeks might be the same. And then week four, all of a sudden you go on a trip, or you change jobs, or, you know, the days get longer. And now you're going for more walks, any little change like that you change your training program, we'll all be back to your diet. And if you had rigid rules in place, it'd be very hard to adapt to that and it would feel even more stressful. But because we're using a flexible approach, it's adaptable, right? You can still be consistent. You're never trying to be perfect. You're trying to get it right 80% of the time, you can include a variety of foods in your diet with this approach. Okay, you can swap and substitute things it doesn't mean that you okay, if you love ice cream, like I do, put ice cream in there. However, you can always make a substitution and say, You know what, I'm gonna do a protein rich smoothie that's made like an ice cream, you know, and it's cold and put in the freezer and everything and it tastes like ice cream to me, but it also serves my goals and it doesn't kind of take up too much in terms of calories and other things. I don't feel restricted either, because it satisfied my craving for ice cream. So I'm not saying you can't do those smart swaps and substitutes, right? Cauliflower rice versus white rice, spices and herbs versus sauces. You know, you have a sweet tooth, you go for some grapes or banana instead of candy. Right? One of my client's his wife is a Keto. She's on the keto diet. And you know, I say I say stuff about keto, and all the other restrictive diets all the time. But what I what I like is, he takes advantage of the fact his wife is on keto, when he's in a fat loss phase, to use some of the amazing products that food science has given us for the keto diet, such as very low calorie bread. Okay, so there's this bread it's made with. It's made with wheat protein and wheat starch. And so they're able to give it like the thick squishy binding Enos of bread, like white bread, or wheat bread, but with less than half the calories. So it's like 45 calories, a slice instead of 110 calories a slice. And it still tastes like bread. So he's able to have a sandwich, not able to, but he has a sandwich with two slices of bread, and it doesn't hit his hard macros as much. That's smart. Like that's just a smart substitute so that he can still have something that tastes like bread feels like bread, it's pretty much bread, just food science has done wonders to make it less of an impact calorie wise. And that's cool. Like there's nothing wrong with that. That's smart. So anyway, I think you get the idea that having something adaptable and flexible, tracking, adjusting for your goals, week to week, takes the stress out, takes the guesswork out, and doesn't require cheat me. Right. As we wrap up. This isn't a super long episode. But as we wrap up, I hope that you have a kind of new and upgraded mental picture of how a flexible approach to dieting, free from the cheat meal mindset leads to sustainable and enjoyable mindset for nutrition, right? Making peace with embracing a lifestyle, that is something you can do forever for the rest of your life that is aligned with your health and well being does a cheat meal sound like it's something aligned with the health and well being to me a cheat meal is like going to the bar and having 10 drinks, right? It is not aligned with your health and well being. Maybe it's something you feel you have to do once or twice. But it's it's off. Does that make sense? So like me, you're a cheater. But if you're having a cheat meal, you're a cheater? How does that how does that resonate with you, when you are incorporating the things you like, anyway, on a regular basis to where it is not good or bad on or off, then you're not a cheater, in any sense of the word, you're your winner about that you're a winner. So we can reframe that. The idea of cheat meals being something we don't want to have to do, like if we feel that we need or have to have a cheat meal, something else, something else has an opportunity to be improved, then I think that's a more positive and more sustainable approach to nutrition. All right, if you're feeling overwhelmed by this, right by this concept that of cheat meals or but also by emotional eating, if you feel like you don't quite have the control that you want over your diet over your results. Don't just listen to this podcast and move on. Right I want you to reach out to me for a call. I do free calls all the time. I don't sell I don't Pitch Anything. All we do is we sit down, I asked you a few questions, we map out your nutrition strategy, we get you a roadmap for setting up your macros, getting enough protein, including indulgences as part of your plan, handling your social life with confidence, getting real results without feeling restricted, and with absolutely no need whatsoever anymore for the rest of your life, or cheat meals. So if you want to find out more, I invite you to use the link in my show notes to book a 30 minute results breakthrough session. And there we'll get to know your specific goals. And you'll leave the call with the best I'll say two or three next action steps for your nutrition strategy. No pitching no sales like I said before, just you and me having a conversation. Okay, in our next episode 141 Why I'm getting fluffy before I get jacked. I will be discussing the emotions that you might feel about your body when gaining weight to build muscle and getting a little fluffy along the way. I'm going unscripted to share my personal journey regarding body image and strategies to help you navigate these challenges yourself. As always, stay strong. And I'll talk to you next time here on the Wits & Weights podcast. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits & Weights. If you found value in today's episode, and know someone else who's looking to level up their Wits & Weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them. And make sure to hit the Follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then stay strong You

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