by TC Luoma T-Nation
Here’s what you need to know…
- Glycogen-depleting workouts done before a cheat meal can help counteract its detrimental effects.
- Eating a low-glycemic meal a couple of hours before a big meal can improve carbohydrate tolerance and quell the appetite.
- Taking thermogenic and nutrient-partitioning supplements before pigging out can undo much of the damage.
- If you ignore any or all of the preceding tips, you can do a modified Pulse Fast the day after the meal to set you right.
I’ll Be Back… With Seconds
You know that speech Kyle Reese gave Sarah Connor about the Terminator’s non-stop attempts to kill her? Well, just change a few words here and there and you pretty much describe your grandmother when you come to visit:
Listen, and understand. Nana is out there in the kitchen. She can’t be bargained with. She can’t be reasoned with. She doesn’t understand protein, carbs, or fats. And she will absolutely not stop, ever, until you are gorged, bloated, and hate yourself.
There are always going to be times when you have “cheat” meals, whether by choice or forced upon you by an unrelenting grandma. Don’t have an anxiety attack, though, because there are ways to prepare for those meals and ameliorate the consequences.
4 Strategies to Wash Away the Damage
Employ one or more of these pre- and post-meal strategies so you won’t have to worry about the occasional cheats.
Strategy 1 – Exercising
One way to prepare for a big meal, or “counteract” one you’ve already eaten, is of course to exercise. Which is better, though, working out before a big meal or after? Luckily, studies that compare both approaches have been done.
Some of these studies have shown that exercising before a meal was the way to go, as it prevents some of the shift towards burning of carbohydrate instead of fat.
Other studies have shown that exercising after a meal was the best approach as it supposedly led to more calories being burned in a 3-hour post workout period than if the meal was eaten and not followed up by exercise.
In studies that compared the two approaches, it looked like exercising after the meal was the best approach, as the 3-hour thermic effect of food was greater when the meal was eaten before exercising.
The trouble is, the approach isn’t usually practical. For one thing, it would require that you make an abrupt departure from whatever event you’re attending, and who wants to leave, go home, change out of your grown-up pants, and head to a gym.
A more realistic approach would be to increase your workout volume a couple of days before a planned cheat meal to deplete a little glycogen. Barring that, even a glycogen-depleting workout on the day of the cheat would go a long way in ameliorating some of the dietary excesses to come.
One logical choice would be to do your regular workout, but finish it off with 15 to 20 minutes of complexes where you strung together multiple reps of deadlifts, straight-legged deadlifts, bent-over rows, hang cleans, front squats, overhead presses, good mornings, and back squats.
Strategy 2 – Eating Beforehand, or the Second Meal Effect
Dietitians often talk about something called the “second meal effect,” which refers to the phenomenon where carbohydrate tolerance to a meal is improved as a result of having an earlier, lower glycemic-index meal.
This makes perfect sense. Furthermore, it just stands to reason that you won’t be as hungry if you ate something in the two or three hours before the big meal. You may actually end up turning down seconds, or at least thirds, fourths, and fifths.
This initial, pre-emptive meal should consist of low glycemic-index carbs and significant amounts of dietary fiber; something like a chicken sandwich on really whole grain bread – the stuff that looks like the bottom of an unkempt hamster cage – accompanied by some bean or lentil soup would do the trick nicely.
Strategy 3 – Supplements
There are various things you can take to greatly lessen the fat-storing effects of a big meal. First on my list is Indigo-3G®. I take it about a half hour before a meal – and especially before a big meal – to enhance insulin sensitivity, control insulin signaling (so that glucose and nutrients are partitioned into muscle cells), block elevation of leptin, and increase fatty acid oxidation.
I also recommend Hot-Rox® Extreme, which acts as a potent thermogenic.
Or, if I’m sitting there in a suit and tie and don’t want a really strong thermogenic effect to make me look like I just had an order of Kung Pao chicken, I opt for Carbolin 19® on its own.
This supplement has multiple fat-burning effects, one of which is increasing thyroid hormone production. Thyroid hormones control basal metabolic rate, as well as control protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.
These supplements act like an insurance policy against fat storage.
Strategy 4 – Pulsing the Day After
Let’s say you blow off everything I’ve suggested and gorge yourself like Caligula at The Heart Attack Grill. Don’t worry, you can still negate the effects of that huge meal by doing a modified Pulse Fast the day after.
It’s simple. The day after your horrific meal, have only a protein pulse every 1 to 3 hours instead of solid food. Mag-10® is perfect for this.
If it’s a workout day (and I assume it will be, because you ate like a pig the day before), have an extra pulse immediately prior to training, mid-workout, and immediately after training.
Increase your workout volume in the days preceding the gastronomic event, or, at the very least, do a glycogen-depleting workout before the meal.
Have a low glycemic-index meal two or three hours before the big meal to both quell appetite and to improve carbohydrate tolerance (stoke the furnace, so to speak).
Take one to two capsules of Hot-Rox® Extreme the morning of the meal and one to two capsules about six hours later. (Alternately, take one or two capsules of Carbolin-19® on the morning of the meal and one to two capsules about six hours later.) Then take 6 capsules of Indigo-3G® about a half hour before the meal.
Consider doing a modified Pulse Fast the day after the big meal where you have one serving of Mag-10 every one to three hours in lieu of food.