Cheat days are a tool to use when you’re dieting heavily. If you’re eating at a significant caloric deficit during the week, a cheat day will give you both psychological relief and protection from hormonal disruption. A cheat day’s routine is not just about the workout for the day, either. You must consider exercise throughout the day, as well as drinking the right liquids, in order to make your cheat day routine as effective as possible.

Go Heavy
Training with heavy weights on your cheat day improves your muscles’ ability to absorb carbohydrates in the hours following your workout. For this reason, you should do a heavy session first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten anything to make sure carbohydrates are partitioned into your muscles, rather than your fat stores. Do three sets of the following exercises, choosing weight that will allow you to complete at least five repetitions per exercise, but not more than eight: deadlifts, squats, bench presses, bent-over rows and overhead presses. This combination of compound movements will increase your ability to burn a much higher number of calories at at a high rate over the day.

Go Hard
As the day goes on and you eat more and more, the protective impact of your early workout will wear off. At this stage, you run the risk of gaining body fat from your cheats. To prevent this, simply include a quick bodyweight session before each big meal after midday. Before you sit down to eat, sneak off and do 30 or 40 pushups or wall presses. Again, this will open the metabolic pathways that direct energy into your muscles, rather than into your fat stores.

Stay Hydrated
It’s very important after your workout and bodyweight routines to drink plenty of water. This will help you recover from the bursts of activity more quickly, particularly when you are feeling full. Staying hydrated over the course of the day will help you digest your food more efficiently, helping to prevent the “stuffed” feeling which is a hallmark of many cheat days. You will also be less likely to really go overboard on what you eat if you’ve had enough water to help you feel satisfied — a cheat day should certainly spike your caloric intake, but you shouldn’t feel full to the point of being ill. Water will help prevent you from reaching that point.

Get A Buzz
The final aspect of your cheat-day routine is to include caffeine throughout the day. Caffeine speeds up metabolism, which in turn can increase the rate of calorie burn during your cheat day. Have a cup of coffee after your morning workout, then have one or two more cups over the course of the day. Not only does caffeine increase how quickly you burn off the excess calories, but it also acts as a diuretic, meaning that you don’t feel as overfull after eating as you might otherwise.

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