It all began on Saturday. It was a nice day, about 70 degrees and radiant sunshine. I spent the early part of the day at work with clients, followed by a brief workout on the stairs and some ab work. On the way home I ran errands to the liquor store, bank, and grocery store and made it home around noon. I was quite pleased with myself. Everything I needed to do for the day was completed and the day was only half-way through.
Even better, I had most of the day to eat and drink whatever I wanted….Cheat day had arrived.
Now there is nothing wrong with a cheat day, mentally they provide a break from a strict diet and let you relax and unwind. Physically cheat days can provide a much needed refueling for the body and boost various hormones such as T-3 and T-4 that can be down regulated if you are in a caloric deficit.
Although fun and often effective at maintaining a high compliance for the remainder of the week, cheat days can get out of hand. Yesterday was one of those days as it contained two pizzas, chicken wings, a handful of beers, a solid happy hour at a Polish Vodka bar, and various other tasty concoctions for the duration of the afternoon and night.
To put it simply, I drank like a fish and ate like it was going out of style. While this is all fine and dandy a few issues arise, especially for those of us concerned about aesthetics and maintaining a physique we can be proud of. Where do all of those calories go? Eventually your carbohydrate storage will reach capacity and excess sugars will be floating around the blood stream and eventually wind up joining the party around your love handles. If alcohol is involved that will halt all fat burning in your body as your liver works double time to remove the toxins involved.
Sounds like a perfect storm to blow up quicker than a Kardasian wedding.
Fortunately, there is a way to minimize the damage on these gluttonous, glorious days as I learned from Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Body. The goal isn’t to go into fat sugar burning mode on a day like this, but rather prep your body to receive and utilize the excess sugars you are consuming. Ideally, you will take more of these excess sugars and calories and have them pushed into your muscles rather than your waistline.
How? Glute-4 Activation.
What is Glute-4? Glute 4 is a protein responsible for insulin related glucose transport into cells. Muscular contractions stimulate muscle cells to translocate to the surface of the muscle, making them more receptive to insulin and stocking the muscles full of glycogen from those carbs you just ate.
Cool, so what do I do?
As close to your delicious meal, whether it be pizza, doughnuts, or whatever else you are craving you must force major skeletal muscles to contract to stimulate glute-4 translocation. And it doesn’t take nearly as much activity as you think.
Here are a few good options:
1.Bodyweight squats 20 reps. Quarter squats are fine, full are better
2.Push Ups (or wall push ups, you can do these in a bathroom stall, oh boy!) 20 reps
3.Band Pull aparts 20 reps
4.Isometric Quadriceps extension: lock your leg and flex as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds. This one can work (or use other muscles) while you are seated if you are out to eat. This way people won’t think you are as weird as me.
**You can do these things in private if that makes you feel more comfortable, but you probably shouldn’t care so much what others think, especially as it pertains to your health and wellness
These exercises take all of a minute or so to perform as close to your cheat meal as you can, as well as 60-90 minutes post-meal. This way you are activating the biggest muscles in your body to be more receptive to the surplus of calories floating around in your blood stream to lead to bigger muscles, rather than a bigger waistline.
So there you have it, it’s still not necessarily a good thing to go as crazy as I did and eat/drink 10,000 calories but there are strategies to minimize the damage while maximizing the fun, even while looking your best during swimsuit season.