Making a BALLS of ‘Cheat Day’

I’m going to ruin your weekend, but it is not intentional and it may actually help you in the long run so don’t hang up on me yet.

This is a medium length post but it’s worth it and I know you have time because it’s the weekend so read it. You know you want to…It will take you 5 mins but it may be something you never thought of.

Last Saturday afternoon I went on Facebook. (I forgot about this but seeing as I’m sitting in I said I’d write about it because I know you all love a good rant/ math lesson).

I’m not a big fan of Facebook because of selfies and duckfaces and it ‘can’ be a waste of time, but I decided to login and see what my clients/boot campers were up to anyway.


I saw some questionable things like beer gardens, pictures of pints and cake etc. when boot campers were supposed to be in boot camp and clients who were ‘straying’ but, meh, who am I to judge? I enjoy myself too, nothing wrong with that.

And that’s cool. I always tell my clients if they can’t come in on Saturday they should enjoy themselves and then get back on the bandwagon on Monday.

You deserve a break sometimes, especially if you have been working hard. No big deal.

No need to be a hippie and be an angel all the time. It’s okay to have a life. People forget that sometimes. As trainers, we are constantly confronted with the almost awkward question:

“You drink alcohol and eat ‘real’ food?”

Of course we do. We just do it in a manner that we can manage, compensate for and bounce back from. That’s what we teach our clients.

Our clients are in private Facebook and Whatsapp groups and they know I’m watching so they take the piss sometimes and tag me in pictures of bottles of gargle, what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s funny and my response varies from “…….” to “no”.

I was just about to log off and then, to my horror, I saw somebody on Facebook (who wasn’t a client…my clients know better) who ate a fry up for breakfast, a big sandwich and crisps for lunch and a big meal at a restaurant with a bottle of wine for dinner accompanied by a hashtag “#cheatmeal” after each one.

Before I dive in and before you all remove me on Facebook, let’s not forget, I am a big fan of having your ‘cheat’ day. (if you have a duck face profile pic that isn’t a piss take and you think ‘duck face’ looks good, delete me now).

In fact, having a ‘cheat’ day is a great strategy to never hit a plateau.

But to go rogue for the whole day is a no-no-no-no-no-no (with my index finger wagging side to side)

Here’s the deal:

Rule number 1 when it comes to nutrition is Calories IN vs Calories OUT.

Your ‘IN’ is what you eat.

Your ‘OUT’ is what you burn off. This is determined by your age, height, weight, and activity level.

If your intake is more than what you burn, you gain weight. If your intake is equal to what you burn, you stay the same.

If your calories in is less than the calories you burn, you lose weight. That’s it simplified, but you get the picture?

So how do you lose fat?

1 pound of body fat burned equates to approximately 3500 calories. (This is in an ideal world calculation and disregards the fact that the body is a complex system, but it gives you a general idea).

If you want to lose 1 pound of fat, your intake will need to be 3500 calories less than your expenditure.

So let’s say you want to lose 1 pound in a week, then your calories in will need to be 500 calories less than your calories out per day.

After all, 3500 divided by 7 days = 500 calories per day.


It would seem logical to just eat 500 calories less than your OUT every day and then you would consistently lose 1 pound of fat per week with no problem, right?

No, it doesn’t work that way.

At first when your IN is less than your OUT, you will lose the fat, but do the same thing for too long and your body will kick in its’ starvation response and adapt to this new ‘number’.

This makes sense if you think about it:

If you really were to lose 1 pound per week, and you weigh 180 right now. Then in 180 weeks you would weigh zero pounds.

Your wallet would weigh more than you, oh, and you would be dead… and that is usually a problem.

Your body obviously wants to prevent this so if you stay at the same calorie level for too long, your body will adjust your metabolic rate and match to your intake and is able to maintain weight while giving preference to vital bodily functions and, as a result, things like your immune system, hair growth, skin condition, libido and menstruation take a back seat.

>>>>>>>This is called ‘hitting a plateau'<<<<<<<<

This is where the ‘cheat’ day comes in. Something tells me that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson earns his cheat meals. In fact, he only has a cheat meal every 6 months or something along those lines.

cheat-day -rock

The ‘cheat’ day allows us to eat more calories for one day out of the week – to ‘trick’ our bodies into thinking you don’t want to lose weight.

That’s why I tell my clients that on Saturdays or Sundays, they can cheat. BUT…

There’s cheating and there’s being a nuisance.

Even though I say you can eat more calories, that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.

Pretend your metabolic rate says you can maintain at 1800kcals per day and you take in 1300 in an effort to lose fat. You maintenance for the week would be

12600 = Maintenance

3500 = deficit


9100 = Kcals to lose 1lb per week

Oh, lets not forget:

+ cheat meal of 3500+kcals of crap…

= 12600+ or to translate that…NO NET FAT LOSSl…..DOH! (Maybe even fat gain)


Some ‘food’ for thought… see what I did there … hilarious ?

Bryan Kavanagh BSc CSCS


Oh, almost forgot to tell you how to fix it…

Don’t stuff your face one day per week…

Have a couple of drinks OR go out for a meal and enjoy yourself OR have some dessert after a healthy-ish meal.

Don’t do all of the above or it adds up and you get nowhere.

PPS. In case you haven’t heard, our SBD workshop is on next Saturday 26th of July in Glasnevin.

There are people from all over Ireland coming to this to learn and develop their own personal skills in the gym and even to teach others correct technique in these 3 essential lifts.

Sign up here >> << less than the price of a personal training session for a day with the ABS powerlifting team (We boast some National, European and World champions and numerous national record holders in our association).

We originally sold 30 places but they are all gone using just Facebook. I am opening up another 5/6 places to this email list because i know some of you will be interested.

Thanks again,

Bryan Kavanagh BSc CSCS


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