The Elite Physique

Difference Between a Cheat Meal and a Refeed Meal?

What’s Really the Difference Between a Cheat Meal and a Refeed Meal?

Can a refeed meal really be your ticket to a lean body?  Being a figure competitor you have probably heard about various ways to boost your metabolism, burn more fat, build more muscle, and just simply shock your body. Among those popular ways are pre- and post-training carb meals, high intensity interval training (HIIT), fasted cardio, high-rep training, refeed meal, cheat day…

STOP!! Refeed meal and cheat meal? What are those? Are they the same thing?  So the big question is, what’s the difference between a cheat meal and a refeed meal?

difference between a cheat meal and a refeed meal

Well, that is exactly what I want to address. I’ve been getting tons, and I do mean TONS of e-mails in regards to figure prep dieting and these two factors. In fact, I had a subscriber ask that question in relation to her contest diet.

QUESTION: “Karen, what’s your advice on sticking to a contest diet without cheating?”

ANSWER: Cheat! Oh yeah, I bet you are wondering what I’m smoking. Let me elaborate…

A figure contest diet is a fairly structured plan and as it progresses it should become more and more rigid. The amount of time you spend on your prep plan can vary depending on your current condition.

  • If your body fat is 25-31% you should look at prepping for about 17-20 weeks.
  • Assuming your body fat is 19-24% you should look at prepping for about 13-16 weeks.
  • In the case of your body fat is 12-18% you should look at prepping for about 9-12 weeks.
  • If your body fat is 12% or less you should look at prepping for about 12 weeks.

Of course nothing is set in stone! A lot of competitors like to ease in to dieting, taking the first two weeks or so to wean out the junk and get adjusted to the new eating format. This is a highly recommended protocol from IFBB Pros.

How To Make a Cheat Meal Work For You

Now, when you start your diet program, be sure to mark it on a calendar so you have a good visual, and so you can take daily notes. Outline your diet for 6 days of the week, and on your 7th day have a cheat day.

Do you have an all out cheat day? Sure, you can. If you follow your meal plan 100% ALL week, you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want on your chosen day. The ONLY stipulation is that you MUST get right back on your contest diet the next day.

Brandy Segura, contributing writer for states, “The best way to cheat is to plan ahead! Remember that, while cheat meals are meal replacements, they need to fit into your current eating regimen.”

If you are more conservative you can take a controlled cheat day and just keep eating within reason, choose to have borderline cheats such as a homemade burger, a few cookies… stuff like that.

Tweaking The Plan With a Cheat Day

All good things must come to an end. If you’ve been following your contest diet like you should, 100%, you should see good visual changes each week, even with a cheat day. But, after a few weeks into your dieting you should change that one feast day into a feast meal for that one day.

The cool thing is this allows you to still cheat, but you will be limited to just one cheat meal a day on that one special day. By this time your body will be detoxified and that one junk food meal will be all you want anyway.

So, it’s really perfect timing. This meal can be anything you want, but by this point you’ll probably choose somewhat healthy food.

Tweaking the Plan Again with a Cheat Meal

A few more weeks into your pre-contest diet you might want to turn your one junk food meal into a refeed day.

Now, a refeed day is simply eating MORE of the SAME quality food on that one day than you did the rest of the week. You need to choose clean food. No junk food at this point.

This feeder day allows you more calories from carbs and protein, firing up your metabolism and fueling high-powered training. It’s perfect timing for the intensity of the diet, training, and cardio.

You may have to tinker with the number of calories you allow yourself on your re-feed day. Most figure competitors start off with an extra 200 calories for their feeder day.

Rotating Your Feeder Day

When you are about 4-6 weeks out from your competition you may feel tired at times. If and when you get to the point you have hit the wall, take that refeed day and plug it in mid-week. You might try something like 3 days of low carbs followed by one refeed day.

  • Start with a cheat day once a week…
  • Turn that cheat day into a cheat meal once a week…
  • Make that cheat meal into a re-feed day once a week…
  • Tweak that one a week refeed day into a cycling refeed day.

I hope this sheds some insight on how to implement a cheat and still diet down successfully.

Important Tip:

It is critically important to make your cheat day the same day each week. It should be scheduled in. If you choose to have your cheat day on Sunday, then have it every Sunday. Don’t go back and forth each week between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for a cheat day. It will only mess up the programming of your body in relation to the diet. Same goes for the cheat meal and non-cycle-refeed day.

Critical Information (Must Read)red arrow pointing down

Now that you understand the difference in a cheat meal and a re-feed meal, you are better armed to tackle your prep diet to lose fat and get cut.  But don’t stop there.  I have a FREE Contest Prep Crash Course with Insider Lessons that can take you by the hand and lead you to the stage.  Grab your copy using the link below…


Learn EXACTLY How to Eat for Your Competition

It's not enough just to diet for your show.  You have to know how to diet and prep like a REAL competitor.  I can show you how in my FREE Contest Prep Lessons.  Click below to get in on the action...

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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

Learn EXACTLY How to Eat for Your Competition

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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