T Nation

Cheater's Diet Addition

There are a few options that I wanted to add to the article, but was unable to get them to the editors in time. I know not everyone who reads the article also reads the forum, but at least this info can be made available for you that do. Here it is:

You may want to try lessening the frequency of your cheat sessions if your results are subpar. Two weekly sessions work well for many (that's why the split is designed w/ a twice weekly overfeed in mind), but some may experience better results by cheating every fourth evening.

There are numerous ways in which this can pan out. Below is a comprehensive list of the various options for both the twice weekly and every fourth evening protocol:

Twice Weekly

2 Cheat Sessions

2 Cheat Meals

2 CHO Refeeds

1 Cheat Meal, 1 Cheat Session

1 Cheat Meal, 1 CHO Refeed

Every Fourth Evening

Cheat Session

Cheat Meal

CHO Refeed

Alternate Cheat Sessions with Cheat Meals

Alternate Cheat Meals with CHO Refeeds

If you gain fat easily, your overfeeding sessions may need to be more controlled and structured than others'; however, I'm confident that one of the above approaches can help anyone experience accelerated, continual fat loss. Experiment with a few of the options and find out what works best for you.

Also, if you are conducting a cutting cycle with a moderate calorie restriction and want to incorporate some planned overfeeding, feel free to contact me via email or the forum to discuss what may be best for you and your non-androgen cutting cycle. Keep in mind, however, that if your diet is moderate, then your cardiovascular activity should be moderate also.

Best of luck,


2 quick questions for you joel…i enjoyed your article, but im confused as some of the info conflicts with what john berardi has written on. jb’s stated that a weekly (or bi-weekly whatever) cheat meal does nothing to stimulate thyroid production, but that you must eat above maintenance for a week or so to kick-start your thryoid…also, wouldnt better results be gained if your cheat meal consisted of lets just say about 1400 calories of high quality proteins, carbs, fat- as opposed to eating 1400 calories of pizza, burgers, etc? thanks man…

whats the difrence between a cheat session, and a cheat meal?

First off, within this industry, there are always going to be conflicting points of view. I’m not the only one who speaks of drastic cheating measures to get lean; Don Alessi and Scott Abel have also touched on this issue. There has been research to show that short term overfeeding can have an acute effect on thyroid output- even John makes note of this in his “Damage Control” article. He also states that this increase (in thyroid output) is highly individual, which is true- thus the reason you have to find out which approach works best for you (cheat sessions, cheat meals, CHO refeeds, a combination of the aforementioned, etc.) One of the approaches will work for just about everyone.

Secondly, you may experience better results by keeping the foods "clean" during an overfeed; that's why I gave the option of CHO refeeds as opposed to cheat sessions or meals. But that's only if you are highly suseptable to fat gain. Most people won't have to do this (especially on a severe diet); cheat foods are fine, very psychologically satisfying, and will help most get leaner on a severe diet.

I have been using a similar method to Joels’ to help me shed the last bit of fat. Basically I am on a very strict Deficit monday - thursday while doing meltdown training. On Friday I let the calories raise a bit but still keeping carbs away. On Saturday I binge like no tomorrow, keeping carbs away as well. On Sundays I binge and am allowed to include carbs. Now I don’t remember beradi’s exact words on cheat meals, but everyone is different and the only way to know your body is through trial and error. Joel did trial and error and it worked for him. My method works really well for me. So play around with your diet till you get the results you desire.

A cheat session starts at dinner, and continues until you go to bed (see Wednesday PM under the outline). A meal, however, is only one meal- once you’re full, it’s over (see the Question regarding CHO refeeds).


Increasing caloric intake in order to accelerate lipolysis just doesn’t work in any sense. I have a problem with the studies cited as all they demonstrate is increased caloric intake results in an increase in metabolic rate but once normal caloric intake is resumed, energy expenditure returns to equilibrium. The same goes for decreasing caloric intake, as it results in a decreased metabolic rate but returns to equilibrium when caloric intake returns to normal or baseline. This means that in order to have and maintain and increase in metabolic rate, you have to keep overconsuming calories. A short-term increase in caloric intake only results in an increase in metabolic rate as long as you keep overfeeding. There is no permanent change in metabolic rate once a normal caloric intake is resumed. I don’t mind “theory” but citing refs which don’t support your main point isn’t responsible. I’ve looked in to this many times and it’s conclusive…increasing caloric intake only results in a temporary change in metabolic rate and is not maintained once normal caloric intake is resumed. From a psychological standpoint, I can understand but not a physiological as our bodies don’t operate in such a way. Trust me, I wish they did!

Not true. If you actually looked into some of the studies I referenced, you’d see that your assertion is not correct- the hormone upregulation and increased energy expeniture, etc. does indeed last longer than the period of the overfeed; significantly longer. Besides, real world data supports the articles claims- you will get leaner, faster! Don Alessi, Scott Abel, and myself have worked with plenty of people using similar tactics with great results. I’m acutally using the program right now and have droped just over 1% body fat and 1 and 1/2 inch off my waist in the last 7 days. If i didn’t incorporate the overfeeds, my results would not have been near as good- believe me; it works!

The key to the program’s success is planned overfeeds with a highly structured training routine and dietary regimen- prime, overfeed, and capitalize = accelerated fat loss.

Okie dokie, please show me which study you’re referring to old greatly educated one and I shall find the abstract and full text document and give it a read. You’ll have to forgive the older guys with doctorates, we don’t understand the complicated nature of the things about which you speak. :slight_smile:

If you’re an older guy with a doctorate, why dont you act like one and lose the sarcastic attitude.

Hey you may have a doctorate, but one thing is for sure, you will follow science so religiously you will never try anything new and outrageous that may actually work. Fact is, it works for a lot of people including Joel and myself. We took the chance and tried something new with success. How will you ever break a plateau if you’re not willing to do new things?

Sarcasm is an old man’s scar of life. Just joking. I’m entitled to sarcasm and aside from that, you don’t know from words being posted on a message board whether I’m being sarcastic or not. Any tone can be portrayed depending on how you view it.

Joel I was wondering if using the fat fast diet would be effective or is it too extreme? It may be the original problem with the diet the fact that there was no cheat day built in. I know the quick answer is yes/no but what are your thoughts?

Honestly, Fat Fast is one diet on this site that I am not familiar with. The short answer is that I think the dietary guidelines that I gave are optimal in most cases- that’s why I prescribed them. For a direct answer, give me a little time to look over the diet you referenced and I’ll get back to you.


I have no problem with trying outrageous things, just have a problem with people using references that don’t support what they are stating. My doctorate is in Physiology and Biophysics, by the way. I’m still waiting for someone to point me to the study which demonstrates a long-term effect on metabolic rate in response to overfeeding, after a normal caloric intake is resumed. Every reference I’ve read did nothing to support the above. If I did such a thing I’d be the laughingstock of my department.

I’m not here to debate an issue that I already know is effective; but I am here to help those individuals who are willing to step out of the box and take me up on what I’m saying- you’ll get leaner, faster than ever before.

When on a severe diet (~1500-2000 calories below maintenance levels), your body is in an incredibly unfavorable state. If you remain in this state; you're results will be less than optimal. What the overfeed does is temporarily boot you out of the rut and allows continual fat loss. No, it's not going to last for the entire 3 days, but it will certainly last for longer than the overfeeding session- and even that is supported by studies where individuals were previously consuming their normal diets. Who really know's how much more of a difference there would be if the subjects were on a severely restricted calorie diet before the overfeed? It hasn't been direclty studied, but the real world data seems to conclude that there's a hell of a lot of thermogenesis going on. Severe dieting is such a special scenario; you just can't compare it to studies where subjects are consuming maintenance calories. No, there hasn't been a study that evaluates the exact protocol that I am prescribing (and that's not unusual from most of the bodybuilding information out there- most bodybuilding tactics are based hypothesis of how the data from normal people studies will effect the bodybuilder; we are indeed a unique, special population) - it is hypothesis based on understanding of the metabolic state one is in when severe caloric restrictions are applied and the metabolic and physiological responses to an overfeed when individuals were previously consuming their normal diets. The real world data supports the hypothesis. There is some serious priming going on when your only taking in 1500 calories for 3 days straight and are incorporating a stringent exercise program- if you follow the rules; it works. By following the program as layed out, you don't allow your body to adapt to the diet; once it adapts, you're screwed- fat loss will be minimal.

Maybe when I get "older" and have the opportunity to get my masters or "doctorate" I might be able to take a sample from the bodybuilding community and set up a controlled experiment which evaluates the acute metabolic and physiological response to an overfeed in bodybuilders while on a severe diet and following a strigent dietary and exercise regimen- until then, I'll trust the real world data and my skinfold calipers.


You have your opinions and that’s fine, but next time, I suggest you not lie after I review your cited references and say this.

“Not true. If you actually looked into some of the studies I referenced, you’d see that your assertion is not correct- the hormone upregulation and increased energy expeniture, etc. does indeed last longer than the period of the overfeed; significantly longer.”

This was not demonstrated in any one of your cited references nor in any literature available and yet you lied and said that it demonstrated just that, and are now admitting that there was no such evidence.

Lying will not get you anywhere in life, “real world” or in science.

The human body is not “primed” as you call it, and will up-regulate energy expenditure in times of overfeeding and will down-regulate in responce to severe calorie restriction, but returns to homeostasis or equilibrium once caloric intake reaches baseline or in other words, once the stimulus for the up or down-regulation is withdrawn. This is what happens.

That’s all for me, I have little respect or patience for people that lie and try to cover it up.

Hey Joel, thanks for the article. I am giving the diet a try for these next two weeks. I do have one question though, what do your 6 meals look like on the restricted days? Thanks a lot.

You know, I usually don’t get involved in these arguments, but I do have something to say here. Whether or not you agree with Joel’s interpretations of the studies, he never once “admitted” that he “lied” anywhere in this thread, or in any article for that matter. Where are you coming up with this assertion? If he specifically stated somewhere that the hormone upregulation and increased energy expenditure lasted the ENTIRE three days, please correct me here. If I’m not mistaken, he said it lasted “longer than the overfeed”, and continued to stand by this comment throughout this entire thread. Judging by your ability to interpret arguments on forum threads, I would be highly cautious of listening to your interpretations of any studies.