Episode 12. Cheat Days, Refeeds, Spike Meals and Optimizing Metabolism
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Cheat days are about resetting metabolism. If you’re on a caloric deficit, the “anti-catabolic phase” of the diet only lasts for so long. After while, the breakdown of not just fat but also muscle begins. Spike days help prevent this, while resetting metabolism and hunger hormones (leptin, ghrelin, etc.). There are also side benefits related to digestion and giving your enzymes variety.
Scott’s “Cycle Diet” is actually a maintenance and muscle-building diet, where the trainee eats in a caloric deficit throughout the week, and then has a big cheat day. People who are deep into “Supercompensation Mode” may get more or less spike days, from only a single weekly cheat meal, to weekly half-day cheats, weekly full-day cheats, and full day plus half day cheats every week.
Scott’s Cycle Diet is a bit different from other similar ideas out there for two big reasons.
1. Namely, he doesn’t restrict the intake of fats on your spike. You eat what you crave, and let your body and cravings dictate what you “need.” You don’t each such-and-such number of carbs and such-and-such grams of fats. (It is, after-all, a mental break as well!)
2. Also, you don’t just begin spiking all willy nilly. You don’t just add in a cheat day because your’e on the diet, nor do you eat low carb and do glycogen depleting workouts or anything like that. You deplete glycogen and so on over time, and you read your biofeedback to determine when your body needs a spike. Assuming you’re not just playing head-games with yourself (which is very possible) being totally depleted of glycogen feels unique. You can tell when it happens.
Cheat Day Key Terms:
Supercompensation Mode: This is a state where your body will take in a huge influx of calories and “supercompensate” in terms of its energy stores. It won’t store towards fat, but energy stores like glycogen and intracellular fats (different from your “fat stores”). Note that it takes weeks or months to enter this state… not “a week.”
Relative Deficit: A caloric deficit that is relative to your maintenance calories. (Good.)
Absolute Deficit: A huge caloric deficit that is low in an absolute sense; it ignores what the body needs. Usually we’re talking less than 1,000 calories per day. (Bad.)
Tolerable Hunger: A reasonable, normal level of hunger, that just frankly comes with the territory if you’re on a relative deficit and you’re losing fat. Mike calls it the “Sweet Spot” of hunger, because there are other benefits to it, in terms of concentration, overall readiness and energy levels, and so on. This is NOT the same as intolerable hunger, or just starving yourself.
Cheat Day Assorted Terms:
Don’t add a cheat day just because. Do it when your body needs it. You need to be “real.”
Don’t quantify your spike days or cheat days. No grams of this, grams of that. Just refeed. Engage your hunger and appetite.
Mostly it’s the intake of calories that does it. This means don’t focus on carbs or fats.
Yes, spike days involve “junk” food. And yes, it really is junk. It’s filled with processed crap. But we live in the real world, and these foods are enjoyable. Also, they’re much easier to digest when you need lots of food. (Good luck getting a huge number of calories if it’s all very fancy, fine dining.)
One of the big signs of supercompensation is hunger. You’re no longer satisfied after each meal. Five minutes after eating you’re like, “Was that it? I’m still just as hungry!!” and then when you start eating on a spike, you feel like a bottomless pit.
If you’re hyper-aware of hunger, you’re attuning yourself to each and every possible food cue. You’re not truly listening to your body. You have to “lower the volume,” psychologically speaking.