If you missed the previous post, check out Part Five here. And if you missed the introductory post IIFYM Flexible Dieting In a Nutshell that kickstarted this series, check it out here.
With “Flexible Dieting” there really is no need for “cheat days”. The increased freedom and flexibility with food choices all throughout the days and weeks on the nutrition plan allows individuals to satiate their cravings and hunger avoiding the need for a session of junk-food binge eating.
The use of “structured refeeds” are common in flexible dieting programs whereby once per week (most commonly, though may be more or less frequent) the macros on the meal plan are adjusted and the carbs are increased. These “refeeds” help refill depleted glycogen stores to keep energy and strength levels up, as well as satiate hunger levels and cravings individuals may have and boost the metabolism to keep from hitting plateaus with fat loss.
This allows individuals an occasional “break” from their typical eating routines and helps both physically and mentally to feel less taxed, without destroying their digestive tracts or the results they’ve worked so hard for. The refeed is calculated and controlled to allow for enough of a stress-relief and craving-relief without sacrificing their results and progress.
With “Clean Eating”, because the rules and restrictions are so rigid and human beings are not robots who can continually do the same repetitive task or consume the same repetitive meals day after day to no end without becoming physically or mentally exhausted “clean eating” usually includes “cheat days”.
“Cheat days” with “clean eating” are meant to serve a similar purpose as “structured refeeds” in “flexible dieting”, however more often than not, cheat days become days of uncontrolled binge eating. Too many times I have seen people who have been eating perfectly clean, super healthy foods for a couple months, take a day or a weekend for their “cheat” and eat relentlessly every possible food they could think of that wasn’t on their diet. Doughnuts, pizzas, burgers, burgers made out of doughnuts and pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cake, candy, deep fried chicken, anything you could think of, eaten non-stop for about 20 of their 24 hour “cheat day”.
These clean eaters then attempt to justify their uncontrolled eating by claiming “they earned it” or “they deserve it” as a reward for being so strict the rest of the time. Generally this ends up doing more harm than good in terms of health or fitness results. It can also create unhealthy habit loops of extreme restriction, uncontrollable binging, extreme restriction, etc. This behaviour becomes completely unsustainable long-term and more and more difficult to revert back to the strict plan with each succeeding “cheat”.
#IIFYMFTW (If It Fits Your Macros For The Win!)
Continue reading the “IIFYM” (Flexible Dieting) vs. “Clean Eating” blog series with Part Seven here.
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