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Path to Health - Day 6: How to Cheat at Cheat Day

You've worked hard, you've resisted temptation, and you feel like you might burst because you haven't had a cheese danish since forever ago. It's time to reward yourself with a bit of indulgence, but how to binge without feeling the guilt afterwards?

Ah, Cheat Day. The Blessed Sanctum of Surfeit. The Refuge of Refined Sugars. The Church of Cheeseburgers. And for many, the Temple of DOOM!! (Kalorie ma! KALORIE MA!) ...But it doesn't have to be, because in Tim Ferriss' book The Four-Hour Body, there is a detailed plan with tons of neat science to explain exactly how to avoid most of the damaging effects of Cheat Day. This is because, as you might remember from what I mentioned in Day 2, Ferriss pointed out that it's not just calories-in-calories-out that matter--it's whether or not the nutrients reach your cells. And this isn't just speculative science, either; Ferriss proves his method works by gorging on almost 8 times his daily caloric need on his Cheat Day, and not only does he not gain any weight, he actually LOST 4 pounds and some body fat!

I won't give away all of Ferriss' secrets, because his book is just a really compelling read (especially if you're a bit of a science geek like me), but here's a basic run-down of how to avoid waking up the day after Cheat Day with all the weight you lost that week gained back:

1. Minimize the release of insulin. This is important as insulin is used to convert energy from food (namely sugars) into fat, which is exactly what we're trying to prevent. There are a few ways to accomplish this, all of which I recommend doing on every Cheat Day for maximum effect:

--Eat a healthy breakfast with at least 30g of protein and plenty of insoluble fiber (such as legumes)
--Consume 6 oz. of grapefruit juice before your first crap-laden meal of your Cheat Day
--Use nutritional supplements that reduce the insulin your pancreas delivers upon surges of glucose--supplements like Policosanol, Alpha-lipoic Acid, Green Tea Extract, and Garlic Extract (you can buy these as a premade stack [Google "PAGG Stack"], and they reportedly are most effective when consumed 15 minutes before each meal)
--Consume citric juices with your crap meals, which can be done easily by squirting some lemon juice over your food or squeezing a lime into some water.

2. Incease how fast the crap food passes through you. Some crap foods like McDonald's or Taco Bell often feel like they already get an express pass through your intestines, but you want the insurance that this will happen even better so as little of the bad stuff gets left behind as possible. This is easily executed by consuming 100-200mg of caffeine at your most crap-laden meals of the day. (The author suggests coffee or yerba mate tea, but I personally prefer 5-Hour Energy shots, which seem to work just as well.)

3. Do some really minimal workouts before and after Cheat Meals. I can already hear some of you now: "Why should I workout on Cheat Day? Isn't this supposed to be my day to take it easy? Haven't I EARNED this?!" Calm down, Nancy Brown! It's really not nearly as intensive as you might think, and the reason is because of something called "glucose transporter type 4" (or GLUT-4 for short). By working out briefly a couple minutes before your crap meals and about 90 minutes afterwards, you bring GLUT-4 to the surface of your muscle cells at peak times, meaning that this crappy fuel you're ingesting has a better chance of being stored into muscle rather than fat. And you don't even have to do that much just to get the GLUT-4 positioned right: just 30-50 reps each of air squats (yep, regular squats to work them quads!), wall presses (like a lighter version of a push-up because you're leaning against a wall), and chest pulls (hold a resistance band at arms length and pull outwards to stretch it). I don't even do the chest pulls myself, and I still get great results from this.

That's it! That's all you have to do to cheat at cheat day. If you're dieting with friends and you all share a Cheat Day together, these secret body hacks may make your friends jealous when they learn that you didn't gain back as much (if anything at all) the next day. And just imagine the look on their faces if you could tell them how much crap you ate and how you still managed to LOSE weight by the next day!

I'm not all talk myself, either. I'm logging my caloric intake with MyFitnessPal, and I weighed and measured myself this morning. I will report my weight and measurements of tomorrow morning in tomorrow's blog post just so you can see the results of following these Cheat Day protocols. Until then, happy bingeing!

P.S. One more note, as a word of caution: Cheat Day wrecks your body a bit, and if you're following these protocols, you may end up feeling a rollercoaster of energy throughout the day. I think it's largely to do with the caffeine in Step 2, but consider it all part of the experience. Part of the reason why Cheat Day is important in the first place is that by gorging yourself to the extreme, you will likely not want to even LOOK at junk food for at least a few days, so the peaks and troughs of energy you may feel are just another good addition to that deterring effect Cheat Day can have for your psyche.