Even the most disciplined fitness addict will cheat. There are just too many temptations in the world. You cannot turn around without smelling, tasting, or seeing simple sugars, saturated fats, and trans fatty acids. So the sooner you accept the fact that you’ll cheat on your diet, the less stress you’ll have.
(Side note: Stress itself actually makes you more likely to gain weight. Google the cortisol – belly fat connection.)
So the question becomes, when is the best time to cheat? We recommend two different approaches.
The first one is supported more so in science, and the 2nd fits our daily lives a little more conveniently.
When you exercise with weights, you’re essentially damaging your muscle fibers so your body can build bigger, stronger ones. The rebuilding of those muscle fibers requires nutrients and energy. That’s why you’ve probably heard the saying that after a strength workout, your body burns more calories over the next 24 hour period than normal. Thus, after a workout, your muscles are essentially begging for food.
The good news is the body isn’t picky about what it gets. The better news is that even if you overeat, the body will more than likely not store the excess calories as fat (Of course, this is within reason).
So if you are going to cheat, cheat within an hour or two after a hard workout.
The 2nd option has zero to do with science, and everything to do with convenience. Stick to your diet and workout regimen Monday – Friday, and reward yourself with a cheat meal or two on the weekends. That’s it.
So if you are going to cheat, cheat on the weekends only if you were 100% dedicated to your diet and workout regimen throughout the week.