When it comes to getting ripped, your calorie intake matters! While it's essential to get your macro's right (e.g. optimise your protein, carbs and fat intake) and ensure healthy hormone synthesis to aid fat loss and muscle retention, there's no getting away from the fact that a calorie deficit is going to play a key role in getting lean. However, aggressive dieting has a nemesis – it tends to grind your metabolic rate into the ground when sustained for too long! One well respected way to reset your metabolism is with a strategic cheat meal/day, courtesy of the compound 'leptin'. Here's the simple science of leptin and how to regulate it with a well-timed cheat day.....
SIMPLE LEPTIN SCIENCE – THE FAT LOSS
Leptin is a protein produced by fat cells, often cited as being our “starvation hormone”. The compound is released from fat cells and sent to the brain as a signal that the body is well fed – causing the brain to maintain a healthy metabolism and oxidise stored body fat efficiently.
Unfortunately, sustained low calorie dieting causes leptin levels to crash, which is a key reason why fat loss can become so stubborn when training to get really ripped. As an example, the meal plan below is a typical carb-restricted diet that should elicit quality fat loss and muscle maintenance. However, after several days of training hard and eating strictly, leptin levels are likely to be significantly depressed.
Breakfast: Porridge with berries and ULTRA WHEY™ PROTEIN Lunch: Chicken breast with salad and a drizzle of olive oil Snack: Almonds, blueberries and ULTRA WHEY™ PROTEIN Post-workout: Rump steak with vegetables Before bed: 1tbsp peanut butter, cottage cheese and GRS 9-HOUR® PROTEIN
USING CHEAT MEALS TO RESET LEPTIN
Having a cheat meal or cheat day is a very effective strategy to boost leptin levels and reset metabolic rate.
Try the guidelines below: - Train hard before a refeed to suck-up nutrients into muscles - Eat around 500 -1000 calories above maintenance level - Maintain your protein at 1.8-2g per kg of body mass - Hugely boost your intake of carbohydrates - Keep fat intake low
The leaner you are, the more frequently you're likely to need a refeed day or cheat meal – here are some sensible guidelines:
Over 20% body fat - Refeeds unlikely to be needed until sub 15%
10%-15% body fat - Consider 1 cheat meal/day per week
Under 10% body fat - 2 cheat meals/days per week
As long as you use an 'If It Fits Your Macro's' (IIFYM) approach to cheat day nutrition, then you can get away with some nice treats – e.g. a low fat pizza. However, you can also opt for quality high-carb and protein meals such as protein pancakes and banana bread. If you're training to get ripped, then monitor your progress closely. If you stall even though your diet and training are 100% 'perfect' – it may be time for a strategic cheat!