I have one cheat meal a week. And to be honest, I eat whatever the heck I want – pizza, burgers, ice cream, sugary sweets – it’s all on the menu. But it’s one meal, so the damage is minimal. Sometimes, I need to Cheat Clean to avoid any fat gain at all. I do ZERO cardio – I just weight train with THT Training (click here to download the full and free THT workout and see gains fast!).
But check out this new study  I found. You’re in for a shock! The University of Quebec took 15 young healthy males and had them eat junk food for 2 weeks.
And the junk food was McDonalds! Here’s what they had every single day:
- BREAKFAST: Egg McMuffin or Sausage McMuffin with hash browns and coffee or fruit juice
- LUNCH: Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese or McChicken with medium fries and soft drink (full sugar drink not diet)
- DINNER: Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese or McChicken with medium fries and soft drink (full sugar drink not diet)
- SNACK (optional): Muffin (if the subjects wanted one)
Results in a second. Here’s what they measured over the 2 weeks:
- Body Composition – fat mass and lean mass (by DEXA)
- Energy Expenditure
- Maximal Oxygen Consumption (VO2max)
- Cardiometabolic Profile
The 15 subjects performed just 30-minutes of HIIT cardio once a day for the duration.
Considering that they were eating at least 3500 Calories with 400g carbs and probably about 150g fat per day, the results are surprising!
They didn’t gain weight. In fact, there was a slight improvement in body composition – what’s all that about!?
Their VO2max improved. Their cardiometabolic profile remained the same. The only negative to take away from the study was that their good cholesterol (HDL) dropped. But, as I’ve stated in many articles before on heart health, the main marker is the HDL to triglyceride ratio, and in this case, it remained unchanged.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Yes, it was a small sample size (15 people) with no control group, and it lasted only 2 weeks – but it should give you some relief about that weekly cheat meal.
If you have one cheat per week, it can be dirty and you’re not going to have a heart attack or add much (if any) fat. Especially since we’re doing more training than the guys in the study. When I’m on off-season (like now) my cheat meals are big ‘n’ dirty – but there’s only one per week.
CAUTION: Things are different when you are on a cutting cycle to get shredded. Being in a calorie deficit and with lower-carbs, your body would just love to soak up all those extra calories from fat and carbs and turn them into stored body fat.
Yes you can and should up your Calories once a week to jolt your metabolism and replace lost glycogen in the muscle tissue, but there’s a limit to the calorie intake – and it needs to be clean food. As I stated in a previous article, you can undo a full week’s cutting effort with one massive cheat meal – if it’s big ‘n’ dirty. But if you cut right, you can shred fast – faster than you think!
NOTE: If you are about to start a cutting cycle, you’ll need my Top 20 Foods to get Ripped. It’s free and I break it down into carb, protein, and fat sources! Just enter your details below for immediate access – don’t worry, I operate a completely zero-spam policy.
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What do you think about this study? I have to say, it doesn’t jive with my experience. Ever went on holiday and ate crap for just 1 week? What happened? lol. I know what happens to me! But at least, it should put your mind at ease about your weekly cheat meal.
Enjoy it 🙂 ~ Mark McManus
P.S. I know that putting together a diet for mass gains or getting shredded abs can be a pain in the butt, especially if you are new to this – that’s why I offer a service where I will do all the tough ground work for you.
You probably don’t know how many calories you need, or how many grams of protein, carbs or fat you need (based on your personal stats)…BUT I DO. Then I can take these numbers and create an exact meal plan for you to hit those numbers spot on! You’ll know what foods to eat and even when to eat them. All you have to do…is do it. No thinking involved. If you’d like me to take care of this for you, see the Get Me Shredded option on my Coaching Page here.
Ref:  ‘High Intensity Exercise: Can It Protect You from A Fast Food Diet?‘ Nutrients 2017, 9(9).
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lol cool but I wouldn’t try it.
@Adam Haha, me neither. But I feel better about my cheat meals.
So what about that supersize me documentary? That was 4 weeks though wasnt it? Maybe a fortnight is the magic timeframe!
Thanks Mark. Ill stick with my one cheat meal. Who know what the study perceive as ‘healthy’ males? Pretty sure it aint 15 McManus’s!
Off to the monday workout!
Makes me feel better…I’m having a hernia repair on Wednesday, and the doc says just sit around for two weeks, and really don’t lift much for two months! Any advice? I guess I will eat pretty healthy during that time, but hope I won’t destroy my gains.
C’mon… THEY DID 30 MINUTES HIIT EVERY DAY!!!
Of course their body composition inproved. HIIT isn’t easy…
Where is the control group?
What were they doing previously toate the study? If they were doing nothing previously 30 minutes HIIT ia quite an improvement.
@Ryan. That’s exactly what I thought too lol I thought about that documentary.
@Jaco “15 McManus’s” – Made me lmao! 🙂
@Mark Kozlowski. I feel for ya, brother 🙁 Eat maintenance calories and keep it high protein to try to preserve as much muscle as you can.