My Complete Opinion On Cheat Meals & Fat Loss

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

Is it really possible to eat your favorite foods and still lose fat?

It depends.

I believe that cheat meals and cheat days are absolutely necessary for some people and a massive mistake for others.

This article is not designed to lead you any one way because in my nine years of bodybuilding I’ve used cheat days to get under 6% body fat and just recently I did not use cheat days at all to get under 5% body fat.

Interesting, right?

195 lbs & 5.5% Body Fat – 14 Weeks Of Dieting With No Cheat Meals

Not Sure My Stats – 3 Weeks Of Dieting With Cheat Days Every 5th Day!

I have no emotional attachment to cheat days and could care less if I use them or not.

As you can see I look great in both sets of pictures and it wasn’t the cheat strategy that was the determining factor.  I personally think I look better in the first picture but some people think I look better in the second picture.

Just like every training and diet technique, you can only learn so much from reading about it. At some point you just need to take action and find out for yourself and that’s what I did and have the pictures and experience to prove it.

If you have not experimented with cheat days before, they can become the focal point of a diet. Let’s dive into what I’ve discovered from being a cheater and not being a cheater!

8 Insights, From Personal Experience, On Cheating…

1. The leaner you are, the more often you can cheat.

2. Fat people (30 lbs overweight) are better off with cheat meals, not cheat days.

3. Cheat meals should not be an excuse to “force down food” and eat to the point where you become sick.

4. Skinny guys can schedule one cheat meal a day to help them grow big and muscular.

5. If you are eating clean the majority of time than your hormones will be in balance and you won’t crave or desire crappy food.

6. If you’re going to cheat, it’s better to do it in the second half of the day (from 4pm till midnight) than the first half of the day.  If you start earlier and go crazy than you can set yourself back a few days.  It’s very challenging to cheat on the first half of a day and than eat clean the second half.  Trust me!

7. For some people, psychologically, it’s very difficult to stay disciplined after a cheat meal.  After you have “starved” your sugar craving, which have started to lose their grip, are charged back to life.

8. In my opinion, you should be striving for a lifestyle that is not dependant on cheat days to keep you going.  You should not feel like you’d go insane without a cheat meal or cheat day.  Your goal is to find yourself not wanting them and not walk into a grocery store and see a bag of cookies and say, “Wow, I would love to eat those right now!”  You should strive to a level that allows you to walk into any party, restaurant or grocery store and not want to eat the crap food.  Sound impossible? It’s not. It will take months and years of good nutrition habits to reach this level, which very few attain.

Factors That Determine If A Cheat Day a.k.a. Treat Day Is Warranted!

a) Your metabolic rate. For example, a hardgainer i.e. ultra skinny guy, could afford to have at least one cheat meal every single day.  In fact, when I bulked up from 214 lbs to 227 lbs, my coach had me eating one “freebie meal” every day and this could consist of anything I wanted.  A few slices of pizza, a burger and fries or anything I was craving.  Scheduling one freebie meal a day for a endomorph i.e. someone who has a hard time losing fat, could set you back weeks.

b) Your body fat levels.  In my opinion, if you’re 30 or more pounds overweight, you don’t deserve a cheat meal, yet. You’ve been cheating for long enough and I feel you should knock off at least 15-20 pounds before you even think about a cheat meal or cheat day.   Besides, the first 5 to 10 pounds you lose when you first start dieting and exercising is just water weight and glycogen.

c) How hard and how long you’ve been dieting.  Sticking to a clean diet for 6 days at a time can be a huge accomplishment for certain people and in that case, a cheat day on day 7 is warranted and they should enjoy it guilt free. This is a true TREAT DAY.  In my case, I consider myself a professional athlete and do not need to baby my body every 6 days.  Although it’s not easy, I’ve gone weeks at a time without a cheat meal.  It is possible if you’re committed to your goals. And guess what? It wasn’t that bad!

d) Your level of seriousness. Let’s be honest. The majority of people say they want to lose fat but they’ll be fat till the day they die because they are not prepared to do what it takes.

e) You have not dropped your target body fat levels at least two weeks straight.  My goal was to drop 1% of my body fat every week and I was starting around 227 pounds, which means I had to drop around 2 to 2.5 pounds a week.  In my entire 14 weeks prep, there was not a single time that I stalled for more than 2 weeks at a time.  If I had, I would have informed my coach and he might have scheduled me a cheat day.  But if I’m dropping, on schedule, every week then why in the world would I give myself a cheat day?

f) You’re in a complete daze. It’s okay to be in a daze for a few days but if you’re barely functional than it’s time to refuel.  I remember telling my coach, two weeks out from my show, “I think I’m going to die…” and he responded with enthusiasm, “That’s awesome. It means you’re dialed in!”  That wasn’t the response I was expecting!

g) If you are ahead of schedule than a cheat day is cool. One of my good friends, Liam Mailer, a top fitness model from the UK was visiting me a few weeks ago.  He was 7 weeks out from his show and already had shredded abs and sitting around 6% body fat.  He has a full 7 weeks to lose the last 1-2% of fat so if he had a cheat meal then he should be fine.

Here Are Some Benefits Of A Cheat Day:

a) Spike your metabolism.  When you reduce your calories your thyroid can slow and by introducing a cheat meal you can continue your fat loss without hitting a plateau.

b) Refill your glycogen stores. Your muscles are like a ballon and as you cut your calories they begin to look deflated.  Having a cheat day will re inflate your muscles with water and glycogen and make them look fuller and harder again.

c) Give you a surge of energy. To burn fat you need to train harder and harder and having extra calories will inject your workouts with some new life and intensity.

d) Rewards you with a mental edge. Every time you perfect your diet for a stretch of days you’ll become mentally tougher and believe in yourself more and more.  Rewarding yourself every X number of days after sticking to your diet helps create mini wins and makes your long term goals feel less daunting and more achievable.  Many of my clients admit they can follow their diets for 6 days if they know on the 7th day they can eat whatever they want.

A Few Extra Notes On Fat Loss:

1. It’s okay to be hungry. You need to make hunger your friend when you’re goal is fat loss.  When I was hungry I told myself, “This is good. I’m not eating a lot and this means I’ll lose fat.”  Stop freaking out if you’re hungry.  Your body can survive 40 days without food so stop being a wuss when you feel a little hunger coming on.  You’re not going to lose any muscle and you’re not going to die.  Suck it up. stop feeling sorry for yourself and get yourself those abs you’ve always wanted.

2. If you’re going to cheat, do it right, and stick to the entire program.  Cheat days are a powerful tool if you’re following the entire program that allows them.  My good friend, Joel Marion, the nutrition renegade who has popularized cheat days with two award winning diets teaches how to manipulate your hormones so the cheat day is a mandatory part of the program.  Now that’s a cool program! Now, Joel would tell you that if you do not follow the strict days that surround the cheat day than you’re living a dream if you think you’ll lose fat.  It’s not the cheat day that makes the diet work but the entire diet, synergistically working together, that makes the diet work. Don’t forget that!

3. Cheat days are another tool in your tool box. As you saw, I have got super shredded with and without cheat days.   If your fat loss diet calls for no cheat days, follow it.  If your fat loss diet calls for cheat days, follow it. The bottom line is, the best diet is the one that you follow and tweak based on your bodies response from week to week.

4. You are a individual so find a diet that suits your personality. If you’re someone that is appalled by eating junk food, high fats and high carbs and high calories in the same day than a cheat style diet is not for you. I have no interest in trying to change your mind and no one else should either.  However, if your someone who enjoy’s being strict for a period of time and than rewarding yourself with your favourite foods, a cheat style diet could be the winning solution for your best physique.

At the end of the day, after you look at the research and the strategy behind the diet ask yourself, “Does this diet make sense for me?” If the answer is yes, give it an honest shot for a full 3-4 months and see what happens.

Never be afraid to make your own decisions.  There are certain diets that tell you to eat only once a day and even if that promised me 12 pack abs in 2 weeks I would not follow it because my personality would not function on 1 meal a day.

Don’t forget that you’re a unique individual and your personality will impact your ability to follow through on the diet and as I just said, “The best diet out there is the one that you follow!”

Questions or Comments?  Leave them below!

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Comments

90 thoughts on “My Complete Opinion On Cheat Meals & Fat Loss

  1. I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

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  2. This is one blog that has made me actually ponder on the things that I have been doing. Really mind-boggling and thought-provoking. Thanks and I’m looking ahead one other helpful blog like this.

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  5. Hey Vince, I dont have a problem eating enough clean calories and I love healthy food so I dont need a cheat meal mentally but I was wondering does a cheat meal help boost testosterone(im only 21 and my testosterone is really really low, im wondering if its because I eat too clean or train to failure every lift) or increase strength?

    thanks, Karl

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  6. I am very pleased with the hassle and don’t really feel like adding anything in it. It a perfect thing which is being done. Preserve the good work! I have just bookmarked this site for future reference. Looking for your common post.

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  9. Vince i am just starting 2try and get in shape and tone up i have had a kidney transplant i went from 51kg 2 86kg from all the tablets i take 2stop the kidney from feeling i take up2 46tabs aday i spent over 15years on dialysis so is their any advice on what 2eat 2help tone up the only thing is i only eat 1meal aday and have done so 4over 15years so any help would would b welcome. Big fan by the way Martin Cole from northen ireland

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    • u only eat 1 meal a day? why?

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  10. @Vince

    Well, you replied to my prev comment sayin dat ud look into the mail i sent you.So I was kinda waiting for that all these days

    What I wanted to ask you is somewhat personal
    You see
    My mail is about the industry part of bodybuilding
    I wish to be a part of this industry and want to make a career in this

    Recently I read about Liam Mailer, the 21 year old , who left his home back in England and joined you and is now part of the fitness industry as a fitness model

    My mail is about me wishing to do the same and requesting you to provide a platform for me just like you did for Liam

    I know it sounds far fetched and its a lot to ask but all I ask of you is to please at least give my letter a read
    I promise you that you will be inspired by my dedication and will

    Fitness is my life Vince
    And I know I have what it takes to be the next Liam Mailer
    All I ask is for that chance

    Anxiously awaiting your response

    – Suneet

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  11. Hey Vince
    Im still waiting for a reply from you regarding that mail I sent you

    Please do get back to me asap

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    • Post your question here bro… What do you need?

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      • BRAVO Vince! Keep up! 🙂

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  12. My ‘cheat’ days aren’t really that different than any other day. I eat the same kind of foods, I just don’t have to worry about how much bla bla bla fats bla bla carbs bla bla bla. It’s more a rest for the mind than anything for me.

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  13. Vince,
    I have been following your advice and programs for about 21 months now and despite being a hard gainer I have managed to gain 20lbs of muscle while keeping my BF% below 8%! I have followed your Nonnonsense muscle, maximize your muscle, 1000 rep, and now I’ve been trying your 21 day fast mass builder and have had gains in every single one of them! I cannot thank you enough for everything I have learned from you, it has truly changed my life!

    Billy

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    • Thank yourself Billy. You’ve picked a good coach and EXECUTED. Keep at it bro.

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  14. @Vince

    Thanks A LOT Vince
    Youre the best

    Im really looking forward to your reply

    Im sure you will like what you read as it is out of direct inspiration from you

    I have decided to take that step and I hope you provide me the platform to do so

    Anxiously awaiting your response

    – Suneet

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  15. When I turned 50 and I divorced is when I became interested in fitness. At 54 I was in a motorcycle calendar which I was very proud of. It was local but nonetheless I was smoking!! I just turned 60 and have been struggling a bit the last year although I look better than most at my age. A few health issues. I might add that EVERYONE around me does not exercise or watch what they eat. Oh….correction they watch what they eat alright ~ and it disappears fast and they’re not fussy what it is. This article is just what I needed to *snap* myself out of my funk. For some reason this particular one had more impact on me than the others. Thank you….I do believe it’ll restore my motivation.

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  16. @Steve – With you all the way Steve… except for Joel being obligated. Definitely he was justified, but just about every post from this and the fast day blog from people that used Joels system with high compliance stated that it worked. He was already justified by those people. There’s always someone wants to slag off. Mary on the other blog post crossed the line by saying Joel was “Xremely” out of shape. seems to some people if you are not in competition form you are fat! I followed Mary’s link to see if she was brave enough to show her own form, and nope. Just a diet marketing blog with conglomerations of different ideas and a facebook account linked with A CARTOON AVATAR! No pics of Mary to be found. Of couse not. For Mary, if you are not shredded you are “Xtremely” out of shape! I bet she ain’t shredded!

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  17. I have to disagree, Matt. I not only think that Joel was justified, but really had an obligation to write his opinion. Even though Vince didn’t really say that cheat days were crap, it seems that a lot of people read that into his words.
    Joel’s point about the difference in one year between pictures is also a very valid point. And 3 to 4 hours a day of workouts? You have to be kidding me. A year ago, Vince was promoting short, hard workouts of 30 to 45 minutes. I happen to like his look better in the old picture, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t trade my life (15 to 20 hours of workout time weekly) for that small difference in appearance.@Matt

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  18. Ok, you give us stats for the 1st picture on a white background, but on the 2nd picture there’s no stats and youre in a totally different place wearing different clothes, doing a different pose. Vince, come on bro!! You know to accurately evaluate something, the factors have to remain the same. you don’t even know your stats in picture 2 but you want us to evaluate your physique based on a picture that doesn’t even come close to #1? You seem smarter than that.

    If I had to choose, I would say 1 but that means crap since I don’t know your stats in 2 and you are doing a different pose.

    Mark

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  19. You shouldn’t have let ’em draw you in Joel. Vince has said it so many times in so many ways. Pick your program and stick with it. His results with your methods WORKED great in a short period. Let the results speak for themselves!

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  20. Vince…Thank you so much for the straight forward pros and cons to cheat days…
    We are all so different with what works for us that this read is extremely important to continue finding what works for your own body…..

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  21. First off, nice post Vinny.

    Thought I’d chime in with a couple of points.

    1. For those saying “Vince you look better in your most recent photos”. Well, those pictures were taken about 300 workouts and a year later, so yes, I would hope they look better.

    2. Can you get to the same level of conditioning with and without cheat days? Of course you can. But, I’ve coached hundreds of clients (along with my own personal experience) that would suggest you’ll get there a lot faster and with less work while using strategic cheat days as part of your program.

    I personally watched Vince work out 3-4 hours a day as his contest neared. When you have that kind of caloric expenditure, yes, the fat will come off whether you use cheat days or not.

    Could Vince have have gotten to that level of conditioning sooner and with less work with the use of strategic Cheat Days and a strategic diet built around them? I absolutely 100% believe so.

    It’s also worth noting that Vince only used my methods for 20 days (not 14 weeks) in preparation for the 2nd photo. Had I been in control of his full photo shoot prep from 14 weeks out, it would have been a very different story.

    It’s also worth noting that the 1st photo is taken with ideal lightening and by a photographer who specializes in maximizing the physiques of fitness models on camera.

    The second…is not.

    That one point alone makes a HUGE visual difference in how the photos look.

    3. You don’t have to eat “junk food” on a cheat day. You can get the same exact effect by combining “clean” fat and high glycemic carbohydrate on a cheat day…pasta with meat sauce, bread and butter, etc. If you’re someone who just can’t “handle” eating non-diet food once a week, then go ahead and gain the hormonal and metabolism benefits of a cheat day by eating “clean” foods. No reason to not capitalize on them.

    4. For those who expressed that Cheat Days didn’t work for them, I’m guess you’re not optimally setting up the rest of your diet around them to maximize fat loss and/or your drinking substantial amounts of alcohol as part of your cheat.

    A “random” cheat day thrown into a program is pretty much worthless and alcohol consumption actually completely reverses a cheat day’s positive hormonal effects.

    5. It’s completely contradictory to say you’re a “stronger” person because you avoid cheat days and eat clean all the time, and then say that you’re not strong enough to get back to your diet plan after a cheat day.

    It’s a “stronger” and harder task to remain strick 6 days a week and then to get right back on track immediately post cheat than it is to eat clean 7 days a week. Nothing “stronger” about eating clean 7 days a week.

    6. There is absolutely zero — read ZERO — physiological benefit to a cheat meal. If you’re going to use it for a psychological “break” from dieting, so be it, but just know it has absolutely no benefit from a fat loss standpoint.

    You’d be much better off with a strategically placed high-calorie, high carb and fat day, and then a strategic follow up plan for the days after.

    7. One indvidual had the comment “the cheat days aren’t going to make you lose fat”. No, eating high carbs and fat for a day won’t in itself lead to fat loss. It’s the hormonal and metabolism benefit that you get from it, and what you do in the days that follow that allow you to lose fat faster than if you don’t use them. So, indirectly, the use of cheat days can indeed have a profound impact on your *speed* of fat loss.

    8. Bottom line, as Vince stated, results are what matters most, but enjoyment is equally as important in my opinion. If you are getting great results and are enjoying the process then keep doing what you are doing. If you are getting great results and HATE what you’re doing to get them, time to find a different method. There are a TON of methods that work.

    On a similar note, whether you can get lean or not without cheat days is not the question. The question is which gets you results faster? The answer to that question can only be obtained for you as individual by testing each method under equal circumstances along with precise week to week measurement.

    If it works faster with pizza, you might wanna go that route 😉

    Keep rockin’,

    Joel

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    • Hey everyone. I hope everyone took some time to read Joel’s response. Some solid gems in there.

      As a side note, this past winter, Joel and his amazing wife invited my wife and I to his home in Florida and let us stay with them for a month. Joel and I were both going using different methods (i.e. cheat days for Joel and no cheat days for me) and we both achieved our transformation goals.

      More proof that you must find a method that suits your personality and ability to follow through. And remember that different strategies can be built into your program at different times of the year. For example, I’m in a “coasting” mode right now and I m scheduled two half-day cheats day until 8 weeks out from my next show. Once we’re 8 weeks away from Worlds, the cheat days will get zapped to very small of any use.

      Thanks Joel for sharing and contributing to our conversation. Keep at it strong everyone
      Vince

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      • vince i had a kidney transplant 6months ago & have put on some body fat because of the tablets i have 2take 48 aday 2stop my body from rejecting the kidney. I was on dialsis 4 15years & i done some walking just 2try &stay fit. I was 49kilos at my worst now i am 84kg &i want 2try &tone up i am able 2eat what i want so what would b the best diet 2start out. If poss could u give me some pointers. Martin Cole from N. Ireland. Long time follower

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  22. @Vince

    Thanks Vince
    I owe you a lot

    Hey
    Just a quick question

    Do you read the mail you get at [email protected]

    Coz I have sent you a very important email and I really wish you would read it

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    • @Suneet. I have a team that handles all my email in that account. I’ll take a look. Thanks.

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  23. @Vince

    Thanks Vince, really appreciate that 🙂

    you do actually make a very valid arguement there that i never considered. Making progress of any form when your a beginner/novice is a very positive thing and at the very least can inspire and motivate them to take the net steps.

    Again thanks, you’re still my go-to guy for fitness, seeing as you have probably the best physique out of all of my subscriptions.

    Btw, your recent 5% bodyfat photos are far superior, theres unbelievable cuts in your delts, chest & legs that make me feel as if ive gained weight just by looking at them haha

    All the best

    Frazer

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  24. Hey Vince,

    I think you’re a genius man. Very informative article. I feel like the more you learn, the more questions you end up having and your articles have helped me take a lot of the “guess work” out of training. I believe I’m naturally more ectomorphic, so even though my diet is very clean, I can seem to get away with a cheat day once in a while. I agree with you about the hormonal balance thing and having less of a desire to “cheat” once you’ve dialed in your diet. I’ve kept a food journal for the past 3 weeks and I’m amazed at how well I’ve kept on track and have had less of a desire to eat “junk”. Keeping track of what you’re doing really makes a difference I think.

    Personally, I think you look great in both photos, but absolutely spot-on shredded and muscular in the first one. Excellent work and very inspiring. Congratulations on earning your pro card. You deserve it. I really enjoy reading all of your articles and watching the LL episodes. Do you offer on-line personal training and/or consultation? How would I be able to get more info? Keep up the great work.

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  25. Pingback: My Complete Opinion On Fast Days & Fat Loss…

  26. bravo! bravo! bravo! im really speechless… all the inputs, all the comments! Im just on the dot spot on!

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  27. @Vince
    Hey Vince, would you mind elaborating on what that next level is….. The only reason why I ask is because even when I have my cheat days, I dont eat processed food and I still eat organically just like every other day of the week except instead of just chicken and vegetables and healthy fats and carbs, I have some homemade cookies or what not etc. Also would you mind answering my question a few quotes above about the severity of cheat days, even though I am having sugar(OMG! lol) and dark chocolate on my cheat days, is this really enough to make someone NEVER gain lean muscle, I just dont see the evidence there. I have been doing cheat days once a week for months now, and whenever I have a fitness goal I.E. fat loss, maintenance, muscle gain etc. I have never found my cheat days holding me back from reaching that goal, it just seemed to me that the comment was geared towards mentioning that if you have cheat days, you will never reach your goals, I think everyone is individually different, if you dont do cheat days and then add them into your diet and find yourself backtracking, then that most likely is the issue, but if your not gaining more than 1 lbs of fat after a cheat day then I think its ok, I would like to hear your thoughts on what the next level is….. once again, thank you for your time, and as always, your input on fitness and nutrition has been vital to me reaching my goals over the past year. Thanks alot man! Keep up the great work!

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    • @Andrew. The “next level” can be anything that makes your overall diet one step stricter. To each person that will look different.

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  28. This is the best and most honest article ive seen from you in a long time Vinny.

    I usually cringe when you promote the hell out of one of Joels programs, because even though they produce mediocre results, they dont address the actual issue that keeps people fat, our DEPENDECY on these addictive foods, and changing the damaging behaviour and habbits we’ve fallen into.

    Personally i’d be more interested if you spent less time promoting Joels stuff (which ive tried) and more time speaking about some of Tom Venuto’s stuff (which ive also tried, and is far superior).

    Joel certainly knows his marketing and what sells, but if you want proper and longterm results, avoid cheating altogether, because you may be losing weight on the scale but your not doing anything about those actual FAT CELLS.

    Getting ripped is not easy until you change your habbits and replace them with the habbits that will make it easier.

    Also, im 19 years old,so this stuff SHOULD be common sense to everyone, but it isnt because theyre not dailled in to what works for them, they believe what you tell them.

    Still support you though Vinny, hopefully this is a sign of you coming back to what made you popular in the first place. NO B.S

    Frazer

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    • Hey Frazer.

      I thought I was reading a response by a 40 plus year old. Your wise beyond your years bro. Very insightful remarks and you give me some solid input.

      You’ll notice I rarely take a black and white stance when it comes to nutrition or any fitness topic.

      A few points to consider with why I promote Joel’s programs because as you might know, we’re best friends too.

      1. For some people, baby steps will include cheat days or cheat meals. This can in fact be a great first step for someone trying to lose fat. Showing them that they don’t
      need to completely cut all their favourite foods can lead someone to losing a lot of weight and transform.

      Does that mean they should not evolve their eating habits? Of course not and most people will realize that cheat days and cheat meals will only take you so far. At some point, you need to get stricter.

      2. I would rather see someone make some positive steps towards their goals using methods that get them results and than in time we can address some of the deeper issues.

      3. You have to realize that my readership varies from complete beginners to professional athletes who read my stuff so I promote a variety of programs that appeal to a variety of people at different walks of their fitness.

      Transformation takes time bro and to tell someone to just stop eating their addicting foods is not going to happen over night. That’s like me telling my client to eat a steamed chicken breast when he’s been eating two double cheeseburgers for lunch. A better approach would be to take a baby step and say, “Lets eat one double cheese burger and then one burger and then one chicken burger and then one deli sandwhich and THEN one boiled chicken breast.” See the progress?

      Endorsing a cheat style program helps a lot of people to a certain level. Then they will need to graduate to the next level. We’ll worry about that when they get there.

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  29. Hi Vince

    Thanks for an honest and very insightful explanation of cheat days. Personally I prefer to stick to cheat meals rather than a whole day of gluttony. To be honest my body is so used to eating clean whole foods I just don´t want to eat lots of junk. However I do have a few weaknesses but I think the odd treat here and there when desired is better for me than a planned day where I have to go crazy. I totally agree with your comment about cheat days being just a strategy to use if it suits your lifestyle and personality. Too many people just jumping into diets without ever considering is this right for me and can I stick with it. Really enjoying your living large series great to see someone really passionate about what they do and making a difference.

    Cheers

    Howard

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  30. Great article. Really enjoyed it. I have to say that before, I could have not survived without a cheat day, but now, I’m at a point where I eat it only if I want, and I’m glad to say that I almost have to force myself to eat junk. God, that is the best feeling in the world when you’re trying to lose a lot of fat like I do. I hope to be in this state forever because I’ve got very good results. Now, I don’t think about how many days are left before my next cheat day and I actually want to eat healthy. It’s liberating for sure.

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  31. Dear Vince,
    I completely agree with you
    It depends from one to another
    I followed your program NNB without any cheat days and I gain great ruselt
    Before 2 months I follow Tim’s diet from the4hours body and it has a cheat day until you sick and its working too

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    • Good job with experimenting with your body Amro.

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  32. Hi Vince,

    Great post. I know Joel is about to lauch xtremefatlossdiet 2.0, and doubts can really be an obstacle to reaching your goals. So thanks for clarifying what you think of cheat days and sharing your own experience. It’s good to know that you were able to get awesome results with and without cheat days. As you said, even if you follow Joel’s program(s), the cheat days aren’t going to make you lose fat. What matters is what you do the rest of the week/cycle.

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    • Hey Charlie. Would to sift through our sneaky marketing! Sometimes our marketing is SO good that it backfires on us (authors) because people to fail to see our applications of certain techniques in it’s complete context. They hear, “Eat your favourite foods” and that’s all they hear. They fail to see what needs to happen on the surrounding days.

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  33. Yo Vince, This article is right on. I am 57 years old Retired 7 years now after 30 years in the NYC Post office. I have been active all my life and still pump the irons, I am hard to the touch at ( 5’6, 205, 44-Chest, 36 waist ) but I need more defintion. My youngest son tells me, I know so much about exercises and nutrition but I don’t follow what I preach, because I’ll munch on crap at night when I sit to watch TV. I know I shouldn’t but I give in… After reading this article I am going to change my ways, and when I get the cravings tonight I will remember this article. Train Hard, Eat Right and Enjoy life. PS/ Glad you enjoyed my 300 Warrior collage I did for you )… Herc.

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    • Hey Nelson. Our greatest battles are the ones literally right in front of us. For example, Flavia just told me got invited to a banquet dinner where they will be serving lots of penne pasta and amazing desserts. I’ve already decided that I’m only going to have one cup of pasta and no desserts to be in compliance with my current diet. Break your goals down to ONE MEAL AT A TIME and you’ll get there. Make today your best day ever and don’t think about tomorrow.

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  34. Hey Vince
    Thanks for the wonderful insights

    But I am proud to say that I’m at a point in my life where I don’t even feel the need for cheat days

    Growing up all I would eat was junk
    I used to have 2 pastries per week!!
    Loads of chocolates every day!
    And don’t have me mention the crappy aerated drinks

    But for the past 2 years I have adopted and lived the TRUE fitness lifestyle

    So now every time I see the foods I used to crave, I tell myself

    “You love that.You love eating it. But there is NOTHING that you love more than what you see in the mirror everyday.And that’s what matters”

    Thanks vince
    For guiding me to be the BEST version of myself
    Im 20 now…..5 10 .,……170 pounds with 15% bf
    And Im only gonna get better from here

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    • Good job Suneet. Keep at it strong. One day at a time.

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  35. Hi there Vince. Sweet post. Already was doing the cheat aka treat meal thing instead of a whole day! And I too think your right on the money that the whole cheat concept is debatable wheiter u need it or u don’t need in your fatlossprogram. And although I was also thinking about the stuff we have been hearing for so long like Chuck S has been commenting a couple comments above, I think you can treat yourself with a healthy(as no chemicals,no transfats etc) as long as your calorie intake is higher on the treatday than the non treat days. Because I think the whole idea behind the treat(cheat)meal/day is that the caloriesurplus is higher than the other days in your diet to set this whole hormonal/muscles/metabolic stuff on. So I would prefer a homemade organic chicken pie(Andrew’s comment) anyday over a bought pizza or bought burger with all the chemical crap in them as my treat meal! And ofcourse you can choose to have a treat meal or not but that;s not the point. The point is, is it wise for one 2 use it in their fatloss journey. And with all that said, I think I tend 2 be with you on this one Vince, that right now I don’t need no business with treat days or even treat meals for that matter! Because I’m in the over 30 lbs zone..Need to lose 40 lbs! So Vince can u tell me is there a fatburning diet program outthere what I can use that doesn’t contain any treat/cheat days and a workout program to match? Maybe one of yours?? Thanks Vince! Keep the insightfullness comming! 🙂

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  36. Superb article. Thank you very much.

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  37. Fantastic article Vince! I completely agree with everything and love how it’s all shown in lists, makes it really easy to read 🙂 One question though: why would you have a cheat day if you’re NOT dropping like you’re supposed to?

    Personally I use cheat days if they fit into my schedule. I don’t need them normally but if I have social gatherings I’ll use them. My biggest “problem” right now is dialing in alcohol consumption.

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    • Hey Christian.

      Re alcohol… When we go to fancy restaurants, we’ll drink sparkling water out of a wine glass with lots of lemon and lime and it makes you feel like you’re having “a drink.” It’s weird what the mind can do for you!

      Supposedly, a cheat meal will spike your metabolism and increase your leptin levels if your not dropping fat.

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  38. Hey Vince!

    Thank you so much for this article! I am a skinny guy who weighed in two weeks ago at 160 with a body fat of 7.7% after an entire 4 weeks off from the gym and not watching my diet. I weighed in just this past Monday after week 2 of your 30 day muscle and diet plan at 167 pounds and 7.9% body fat. That’s almost 7 pounds in 2 weeks! I have been eating between 4000-5000 calories a day and with this being my goal to bulk up I have incorporated a cheat meal once a day at dinner. I have been pretty faithful with the diet for the most part and I have been extremely strict at the gym. I am seeing fantastic results! I can’t wait to show you my before and after pics when I reach my goals over the course of summer!

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    • Good stuff Garett. Can’t wait to see those pics. The joys of being skinny eh? One cheat meal a day. Enjoy it!

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  39. You have transformed in so many ways over the past few years- I admire your honesty,sincerity and inner growth,as much as your body fitness success. These past blogs have been truly inspiring. thanks for sharing your insights ,Rosalie

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  40. God insight man! For some people, getting excess calories can be a challenge. For me, it was never the case. I can eat more 10 000 calories in a day if you tell me I can eat whatever I want. Therefore I tend to have have better results with one controlled “refeed day” every three days and maybe one cheat meal per week (also under control) than with an all-out cheat day. I know that Joel says cheat days are safe, that he too can eat a lot of food and has used them successfully, but I doubt he is a match for me. I basically have no limit. On a “bulking” phase, I also have to count my calories or I would eat far too much.

    Also, when you’re used to eating clean all the time, you don’t necessarily feel like eating junk food. I used to have the sweetest tooth, but now I find most sugary food are too sweet.

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  41. Downright Honest, Practical n more than worthy to follow what’s being shared.

    Thanks Vince.

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  42. Doesn’t the body go into starvation mode when you restrict calories for a week? And the body stores fat, slows its metabolism, and makes you hungry? And 1 cheat day every week keeps the body in high metabolism mode?

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    • @Chuck. It’s not as simple as that…

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  43. interesting. i have found over the last 2 years, the cleaner i eat, the less i crave cheat food. the easiest (not necessarily the best) way i have found to eat clean, is eliminate 1 food/food group at a time. i have recently read, and started using the paleo diet, and have found it the easiest way for me to keep on the clean foods. another bonus to eating clean, is that your teeth feel clean at the end of the day. ( i have just noticed how much i have said “clean” in this post….)

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  44. Vince,
    I forgot to mention earlier that its good to see you voicing your opinion even though it goes somewhat against what some of your internet buddies say.
    Also, I’m in the group who like the second picture better. You’re more cut in the 1st picture (and tan), but overall I think you look better in the 2nd. Actually, I think you do better on your own than you did with your personal trainer. Oops, sorry.

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    • Hey Steve.

      Note that my opinions are formed based on experiences. Not based on what I heard or what I read. I make up my own mind from DOING.

      I have no emotional attachment to cheat days and even if my wife came out with a program that promoted cheat days, we would still be friends. My friends and I don’t find our identities in the diets we put out. They are simply tools to help you get RESULTS. If my friend can get results eating ice cream, pizza and fries every 5th day then I have no problem with that. Why should I?

      I could care less if someone follows the blood type diet, a fasting diet, a paleo diet or the “oxygen only” diet (yes, there are idiots out there who think you can survive on oxygen alone now). I only care about RESULTS. If you’re getting safe and progressive results… keep doing what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter who doesn’t agree with you.

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  45. Vince Mate, I am so glad I read all the way to the end of this page! As an endomorph it would have been easy to switch off a few times (go ahead – call me a child again!), but I was blessed to read this comment you tagged on Rocky’s comment:
    “it’s not a “program” but it’s basically an outline of what I ate and why I ate it”.
    That’s the info I need to make my own decisions (and I think we all have learned by now that they are the only decisions we really stick with)! I realise a lot of it won’t apply as my current goal is 15% body fat, but it is great to see your intent to explain the process rather than sell the program.
    Thanks!

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  46. hey Vince, I always wanted to ask, even though I incorporate cheat days into my diet, I never eat processed food period. I always cook or bake all of my cheat meals myself to ensure calorie content and nutrition as well as what goes into it. Is a cheat day filled with fried food, processed crap from boxes, or bags of potato chips the same as having a cheat day with organic homemade low fat cookies, or organic homemade chicken pot pie for instance? (Just a few of my favorite meals.) I hope this doesnt sound like a dumb question but I wanted to ask especially considering the amount of people nowadays stressing the importance of ingredients in food just as much as calories and macronutrients? Thank you for your time, I always love hearing your thoughts on fitness and nutrition!

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  47. Hi Vince, great article keep going and regards from Thailand

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  48. Great post, Vince. Like many of the others, I have found myself being set back every time I have a cheat day unless I work out 3 or 4 times that day. That said, it seems that you are comparing apples to oranges since you only dieted 3 weeks the first time and 14 weeks the second time. It would have been good to see what you would have acomplished with cheat days going on for another 11 weeks.

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  49. Originally Posted By rocky
    Awesome article Vince! I love how you are straight up about everything and cut through all the bullshit unlike most. That’s seriously what makes you one of the best there is and I absolutly respect everything you have to say. So thank you. (Even though it’s a little late lol) I coulda used this a long time ago when I kept gaining weight with the CYWT and couldn’t figure out what I was doin wrong. But it makes sense how you explain everything. Thanks again bro it’s really apreciated. And I’m dyin to see the diet you used to cut down to that 5.5% BF in that first picture. I am definatly gonna give it a shot once you share.

    Hey Rocky. Stay tuned… it’s not a “program” but it’s basically an outline of what I ate and why I ate it to get “stage shredded status.”

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  50. Originally Posted By Dave
    Well Vince, I’m finally starting to get my diet dialed in and seeing you in such great shape after 16 weeks is inspiring me to step it up more in the gym. I have taken much of your advice into consideration. I really liked your analogy in one episode of Live Large when you said “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it” as well as your constant motto, “If you want to see something different, you have to do something different.” I just have one question for you though and I think I already know the harsh answer. Most of my friends are hitting the gym and eating healthy, but one friend in particular still pushes it on us to drink and eat greasy bar food every time a hockey game is on. Should I choose to hang out with other people and end my friendship with this person? I feel like he is really stepping in the way of what I would like to achieve. Thanks

    Hey Dave. You’re moving in a different path and your friend is afraid you’re going to lose something you have in common. Definitely don’t pretend you’re better than him but if the time arises, let him in on your goals and why you love hanging out with him and that you don’t need to eat the same foods as him to have a good time.

    You don’t force him to eat healthy and he shouldn’t force you to eat clean. Give him time. He’ll follow your lead in time.

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  51. Good lot of info I am sure for all….I found that I needed to experiment a bit as you have mentioned and now my metablism is ranked up and it seems as long as I eat mostly clean I can cheat a bit esp. one day a week. I am now at about 13% body fat with good lean muscles, but at 60 years old I am hope to get down to 10% body fat and stay there for the rest of my life, not so easy as you probably know at this age even though my skin folds measurement are good, if I was your age I would already be at 10% or less, seems the older we are the more hidden fat there is, I am assuming that is the reason for the difference in the charts on skin fold measurements.

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  52. Awesome article Vince! I love how you are straight up about everything and cut through all the bullshit unlike most. That’s seriously what makes you one of the best there is and I absolutly respect everything you have to say. So thank you. (Even though it’s a little late lol) I coulda used this a long time ago when I kept gaining weight with the CYWT and couldn’t figure out what I was doin wrong. But it makes sense how you explain everything. Thanks again bro it’s really apreciated. And I’m dyin to see the diet you used to cut down to that 5.5% BF in that first picture. I am definatly gonna give it a shot once you share.

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  53. Well Vince, I’m finally starting to get my diet dialed in and seeing you in such great shape after 16 weeks is inspiring me to step it up more in the gym. I have taken much of your advice into consideration. I really liked your analogy in one episode of Live Large when you said “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it” as well as your constant motto, “If you want to see something different, you have to do something different.” I just have one question for you though and I think I already know the harsh answer. Most of my friends are hitting the gym and eating healthy, but one friend in particular still pushes it on us to drink and eat greasy bar food every time a hockey game is on. Should I choose to hang out with other people and end my friendship with this person? I feel like he is really stepping in the way of what I would like to achieve. Thanks

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  54. Way to speak your truth, Vince. I like it that you did what you had to do to take you to your goal, each time being different. I also like it that you don’t feel like you have to worry about what your “buddies” think because you chose your own path to zero in on body fat reduction.

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  55. Originally Posted By Tanya
    Vince, this is the BEST article I have read about cheat days. Your assessment is spot on. As you said, I think the cheat meal/day is great for some, not good for others. For me, its not so good. I’m someone who struggles with food, always have. Even if I meet some of your criteria for the cheat day e.g. put 6 days together of really good nutrition, the cheat meal can turn into a disaster for me. If its particularly sh*t food, it can set me off and I end up eating poorly for the whole day. There goes my week. And even if I don’t go on a bender, mentally I’m in a bad place for the rest of the day and even the next. Which just goes to show I need to work on my relationship with food before I can move onto strategies like the cheat day. So what I do now is that instead of eating junk food, I just make a healthier cheat meal 1-2 times a week e.g. if I’m looking for something carbie I will make a low-fat healthy vegetarian lasagne and maybe eat a larger serving than normal, or I will make a healthy dessert of some kind and eat that. This works really well for me. I’ve made amazing changes to my nutritional habits the past 3 months but if I’m honest I have a long way to go before I could do something like Joel’s program.

    Thanks again Vince, this article just really made my day.

    Hi Tanya. It’s almost to see you fully involved in the transformation process and learning by doing. Keep it at girl.

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  56. Originally Posted By Rickaboy
    Wow, I feel vindicated. I’ve been programmed to follow 1-month meal plans, which did not include cheat days. As Vince said, I DID NOT crave the cheats once I got into it. But after 3 months, I HAD to have some major crumb bun orgy. I knocked it out and moved on. Mentally refreshed.

    Here’s the thing though. I notice in 99% of the literature there is no mention of alcohol, either pro or con. When I go off the wagon, the engineer driving the train is BEER. Lots of good beer. And it’s a double whammy too because with the hangover the next day, all I crave is fat – taylor ham, bacon, pizza, and coca-cola. The day after that is a major guilt day. I just got over one this weekend. And this is no bull – reading Vince’s post these last two days has set me right. I’m refocused and ready to rip it up again.

    But my question remains; what is your opinion on alcohol in moderation as it relates to a meal plan. As a guy looking to bulk up with the 29 week program (I am presently 194 and 8.5%), the calorie calculator puts me at 4500+ per day. Knowing beer is 180 EMPTY calories, it nevertheless helps you hit those numbers. Thoughts?

    i think you answered your own question. I would apply the Help-Hurt Rule here.

    Will alcohol help you or hurt you? Make your decision based on that.

    If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, there is zero place for alcohol. It’s funny because after 14 weeks of dieting I went out to celebrate and was saying, “I can’t wait to have a cold beer” but then when we hit the restaurant I was like, “I don’t even feel like a beer.” Interesting eh?

    A lot of times, we just condition and train our bodies to like something through repetition.

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  57. Originally Posted By Kelvin Velasquez
    Wow!!!!! Vince Thank you so much!
    I have been using cheat days in my diet program and it has set me back everytime about a week!
    (I believe im an extreme endo-mesomorph) and I only did a cheat day due to the “Metabolic Boost” it gave. I’m seeing that maybe a cheat meal would serve me better than a whole day, and if not then no cheat days given (really I dont need them, im just so used to hearing it shoved down my ears about preserving and even gaining muscle mass)
    so thank you, i KNEW something was wrong. I was starting to think it was my workout routine lol

    anyways, thank you. Let’s see how this one goes
    🙂

    Good job pin pointing your issue Kelvin.

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  58. Originally Posted By Teresa
    Hmmm… Vince. While I totally agree that each individual has to find what works for them, I don’t agree entirely with your tone. Perhaps, it is due to our differences. One, I am woman, you are man. Two, you were “Skinny Vinny” and I have fought a weight problem my entire life. Three, you are admittedly an athlete, I am 51 years old, and loving being a grandma! I followed Joel’s plan, and after a lifetime of trying every known “diet” to man, I have finally found success! No, I am not where I want to be yet, yes, I am WAY more than 30 pounds overweight. That doesn’t mean I don’t “deserve” a treat day, nor am I wuss because I occasionally give in to cravings. It just means I have different goals than you, and a little different path to obtain them. (By the way, both pics are really nice, you definitely have more definition in the more recent one….and really, really sharp cheek bones!) You are obviously doing a fantastic job achieving your goals, and I thoroughly applaud you for it! I haven’t measured my body fat in a gym, or with calipers or anything, but I know I am wearing clothes that I haven’t worn in over 5 years. Whooo hoooo!!! Keep up the good work Vince, and hug Flavia, she is doing super also!

    T

    Hey Teresa. You’re doing amazing and if cheat days are working for you… keep at it sista!

    My opinions are cheat days are not right or wrong, they are just my experiences and insights. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is RESULTS and if you’re getting them, I’m proud of you!

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  59. Originally Posted By Scott Tousignant
    Dude I love your transparency with this article! I totally agree with you on so many levels. I’ve used cheat days and I haven’t used cheat days. One thing is for sure, if I go all out on a cheat day I will pay the price BIG time.

    For the past 28 days I haven’t had any junk food at all. The best part, I don’t need it! It’s nice once in a while to have a treat, but it sure feels incredibly liberating to not be a slave to junk food.

    That’s great Scott. This is called true TRANSFORMATION. Your old “childish” self that craves “kids food” is gone and you’re not a mature adult who relies on clean “adult” food 🙂

    Like how I just called every over weight person in the world a child ?

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  60. Hmmm… Vince. While I totally agree that each individual has to find what works for them, I don’t agree entirely with your tone. Perhaps, it is due to our differences. One, I am woman, you are man. Two, you were “Skinny Vinny” and I have fought a weight problem my entire life. Three, you are admittedly an athlete, I am 51 years old, and loving being a grandma! I followed Joel’s plan, and after a lifetime of trying every known “diet” to man, I have finally found success! No, I am not where I want to be yet, yes, I am WAY more than 30 pounds overweight. That doesn’t mean I don’t “deserve” a treat day, nor am I wuss because I occasionally give in to cravings. It just means I have different goals than you, and a little different path to obtain them. (By the way, both pics are really nice, you definitely have more definition in the more recent one….and really, really sharp cheek bones!) You are obviously doing a fantastic job achieving your goals, and I thoroughly applaud you for it! I haven’t measured my body fat in a gym, or with calipers or anything, but I know I am wearing clothes that I haven’t worn in over 5 years. Whooo hoooo!!! Keep up the good work Vince, and hug Flavia, she is doing super also!

    T

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  61. @Doug

    Hey Doug. I’ll tell you about fasting days shortly! I did NOT use any fast days during my contest prep.

    I have used them in the past though.

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  62. Great article Vince. I’m wondering if you had any fasting days, even though you did not use cheat days?

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  63. Originally Posted By TanyaVince, this is the BEST article I have read about cheat days. Your assessment is spot on.

    Right Here…End of story…best article about cheat days…even topped the one you earlier posted about “Treat Days” and how to utilize them properly.

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  64. Wow, I feel vindicated. I’ve been programmed to follow 1-month meal plans, which did not include cheat days. As Vince said, I DID NOT crave the cheats once I got into it. But after 3 months, I HAD to have some major crumb bun orgy. I knocked it out and moved on. Mentally refreshed.

    Here’s the thing though. I notice in 99% of the literature there is no mention of alcohol, either pro or con. When I go off the wagon, the engineer driving the train is BEER. Lots of good beer. And it’s a double whammy too because with the hangover the next day, all I crave is fat – taylor ham, bacon, pizza, and coca-cola. The day after that is a major guilt day. I just got over one this weekend. And this is no bull – reading Vince’s post these last two days has set me right. I’m refocused and ready to rip it up again.

    But my question remains; what is your opinion on alcohol in moderation as it relates to a meal plan. As a guy looking to bulk up with the 29 week program (I am presently 194 and 8.5%), the calorie calculator puts me at 4500+ per day. Knowing beer is 180 EMPTY calories, it nevertheless helps you hit those numbers. Thoughts?

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  65. Efren Gutierrez May 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Vince.
    I’m on my 7th. week of my six pack quest. In these seven weeks I’ve been introducing a lot of habits according to your guidelines and this is the first week I feel I’m fully on track with my 90% compliance.

    I really appreciate you sincerity and all of the info, videos, articles, etc. that you share with us.
    Definitly I’ve chosen to be educated by your expertize.

    Very often what you post is exactly what I needed to hear or read or see…
    Thanks bro. Thanks a lot.
    Thanks for teaching me I have the power to chose.
    “Select, don’t neglect”.

    Looking forward,
    EFREN GUTIERREZ.

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  66. Vince, this is the BEST article I have read about cheat days. Your assessment is spot on. As you said, I think the cheat meal/day is great for some, not good for others. For me, its not so good. I’m someone who struggles with food, always have. Even if I meet some of your criteria for the cheat day e.g. put 6 days together of really good nutrition, the cheat meal can turn into a disaster for me. If its particularly sh*t food, it can set me off and I end up eating poorly for the whole day. There goes my week. And even if I don’t go on a bender, mentally I’m in a bad place for the rest of the day and even the next. Which just goes to show I need to work on my relationship with food before I can move onto strategies like the cheat day. So what I do now is that instead of eating junk food, I just make a healthier cheat meal 1-2 times a week e.g. if I’m looking for something carbie I will make a low-fat healthy vegetarian lasagne and maybe eat a larger serving than normal, or I will make a healthy dessert of some kind and eat that. This works really well for me. I’ve made amazing changes to my nutritional habits the past 3 months but if I’m honest I have a long way to go before I could do something like Joel’s program.

    Thanks again Vince, this article just really made my day.

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  67. Wow!!!!! Vince Thank you so much!
    I have been using cheat days in my diet program and it has set me back everytime about a week!
    (I believe im an extreme endo-mesomorph) and I only did a cheat day due to the “Metabolic Boost” it gave. I’m seeing that maybe a cheat meal would serve me better than a whole day, and if not then no cheat days given (really I dont need them, im just so used to hearing it shoved down my ears about preserving and even gaining muscle mass)
    so thank you, i KNEW something was wrong. I was starting to think it was my workout routine lol

    anyways, thank you. Let’s see how this one goes
    🙂

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  68. Hey Vince,

    Great post. Probably your best one to date…really enjoyed it.

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  69. Vince, this was excellent. Some ‘quote worthy’ gems in this one.

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  70. Dude I love your transparency with this article! I totally agree with you on so many levels. I’ve used cheat days and I haven’t used cheat days. One thing is for sure, if I go all out on a cheat day I will pay the price BIG time.

    For the past 28 days I haven’t had any junk food at all. The best part, I don’t need it! It’s nice once in a while to have a treat, but it sure feels incredibly liberating to not be a slave to junk food.

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