T Nation

Science Behind Cheat Meal?


#1

Hey guys. I know there's the debates about cheat day vs meal, cheating vs re-feeding, and all that. Basically, I know my own body, and how it reacts. I typically eat around 2600-3000 calories a day, to build muscle while slowly burning away body fat. (6'0 200lbs)....Once every couple of weeks, I smash a 3-4-5 thousand calorie meal, purposefully, to eat foods that I've stayed away from, as well load up on any fat or carbs that I may have been missing from my cleaner eating.

And the thing for me is, when I used to be fat and 300lbs, and ate a meal like this, I was sluggish, couldn't do anything but sit on the couch and pass out.

Yesterday, (as with many cheat meals before this after changing my body & eating habits), I smashed a Triple Baconator, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Large Fry and Large Chocolate Frosty for dinner (around 3000 calories)...and woke up in the AM feeling leaner than I did all week before. And that was before I went to the bathroom.

So, I know this works for me, and the calorie surplus will most definitely help my lifts for this coming week... but I was wondering if someone could break down the science of it, just for my own personal curiosity, and maybe it'll help out some people along the way.


#2

Lyle McDonald attributes this phenomenon to the mobilization of water from one body compartment to another. (Can’t link it, sorry.) For example, a big bump in carbs will top off glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen brings with it 3 grams of water into the intracellular space. If this shift removes water from the interstitial space, it will leave you looking dryer/leaner. (Note that this ‘glycogen top-off’ mechanism also explains why you feel stronger in the days after the refeed.)