Can a cheat meal be detrimental to your progress?

Disclaimer: Everyone is built differently; not everyone has the same background as I do. While this might not apply to some of you, perhaps you can learn something from my experience and understand your body better.


I started working out few weeks before my 20th birthday and since then it has been a work in progress. The transformation itself is a journey, and every day I learn something new and keep working on my health.

I’d say that being involved in the P90X/Beachbody community since 2008 has taught me to improve on my diet better. After all, I am the average of 5 people that I spend the most time with, and since my network of friends are very health conscious and picky with what they eat, somehow that rubs off on me as well. I’m not complaining, because my strength, performance and overall health have been much better.

I did not start out being a fitness freak. I grew up surviving on plain white rice with side dishes of either eggs or sausages. I was a VERY picky eater and didn’t eat my 1st salad until my freshman year of college at the dining hall of USC. So long story short, I’ve been eating healthy 95% of the time.

Since my move to the new apartment around the holiday, I’ve been trying to get back into my fitness regimen. During the past few weeks, my strength has improved – benching at 255 lbs and shoulder pressing at 185 lbs is a breeze. However, I feel like I’m hitting a plateau, and I tend to get sore for days after my intense workouts.

Just last week I heard about this Triple XXX Challenge at Fatburger from a buddy. If I complete the challenge, I will receive a certificate and my photo will be posted on the Wall of Fame at that specific Fatburger chain. I guess I’m a big sucker for fame because even as small as this, I decided to go for it. It will be a great test for my fast Asian skinny metabolism 😉

To make sure that I will be extremely hungry before gorging down on all of this ground cow flesh, I planned it out so that I could EARN my cheat meal by doing a 3 hr beach workout at the Santa Monica Muscle Beach. (It is always a good idea to do something active to EARN your cheat meal – for example, doing the Turkey Trot, or family football before Thanks Giving dinner).

After the beach workout, a few of my friends tagged along because they wanted to witness this ‘big historical event’. Some of them thought that I was joking since they know that I’m not a fan of burgers, fast food, junk food, or greasy disgusting food. My order came, and even with all the condiments (except pickles since I despise them), and fries, the challenge meal didn’t look too bad.

The first few bites were easy, but halfway through I was so stuffed that I didn’t think I could eat anymore. Not wanting to give up, I just sucked it up and completed it. I have to say, this whole ‘cheat meal’ has has close to, if not more, than 4000 calories! While it felt good to complete the challenge, I didn’t think that I could be hungry for the next couple of days!

Taken on 2/21, 4 days after the meal

Of course not – I got really hungry again 6 hours after that. Typical!

All I know is that the next day I woke up feeling refreshed, and instead of the expected flabbiness on the belly, my abs looked even more chiseled and my muscles look full and swollen. Perhaps, I’ve been training hard but not eating enough the past few weeks – and this cheat meal is just what I needed!

This might explains why some athletes do carb loading before competition.

4 days after this ‘cheat meal’ – I broke my personal record with Dumbell Triceps Extension. I was lifting with 105 lbs! Even at 7 reps, this is a great accomplishment for me.

So in the end – is doing a cheat meal for you? For my 2 cents, IF and ONLY IF, you’re the true ectomorph – lean and ripped and have been struggling with adding lean mass and improving your strength – then the occasional cheat meal might just do you some good.

If you’re like most people that is struggling to get 6 pack abs, I wouldn’t recommend it. However, we are human, and sometimes we want to let loose on special occasions like our birthdays, the New Year, etc. It is okay to bend the rules during these special occasions, but be smart about it. MODERATION is the key here!

Comments? Have your own cheat meal experience? Pls share under the comment section below!

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