Right now I've had 6 Yuengling Lights in me, a fat cigar, Taco Bell, and an ice cream Snickers bar thingy. Tonight was cheat meal night, and when I do it I do it big.
But the next week straight is all business. I have my fish and rice cooked, my cooler packed and ready to go for tomorrow. Sometimes I'll have a cheat meal once a week, sometimes I'll go for 10 days, and occasionally I've gone for a few weeks (usually when contest prepping). My best stretch ever was 5 weeks without a cheat meal.
My advice is this; when you cheat you need to do it in a way that you're set to go another week eating clean. I would never just eat 1 slice of pizza here, then a couple days later something else there. Fuck that shit. That is for the weak. I say do it up big and then cut it off. When you wake up the next day you need to make believe it never happened, that week long straight diet is like preparing for war.
I didn't always make it 1 week without a cheat meal. There was a time when I cheated twice a week even prepping for a bodybuilding competition. I came in as a heavyweight and took 5th place out of 10 guys. It was a stacked class, but I didn't feel so bad because it was only my second show and the guy who took 4th place was a long time competitor who took overall wins in a ton of shows! But at that time my discipline wasn't as great as it is now, to eat clean for 3 days straight and then a cheat meal was reasonable to me, and manageable. I still got down to around 4-5% body fat with veins everywhere.
My advice to you is to do what is manageable. If you usually eat out at lunch for work every day, start off with trying to do it every other day. Maybe you can make it 2 days in a row before you start going insane and need a slice of pizza. So what, it's a start right? It gets easier over time. The longer you do it the more manageable it will seem.
Light Beer. I'm not going to lie to you guys, the most shredded I ever got was when I was drinking about 3 times a week. You see, I simply replaced cheat meals with about 2-3 Michelob Ultras. But the deal was I would never do it on a day I had a junk meal also. It had to be a day of clean eating.
Now I know what you are all thinking, what kind of bodybuilder drinks 3 times a week? Well I want you to think about this logically for a minute. What's worse, drinking 300 calories worth of light beer and catching a buzz to take the edge off, or eating 2000 calories worth of pizza? And again I won't lie to you, I usually woke up the next morning looking even better after I did that. I was simply replacing food with a few low carb beers.
Dipping. I also dipped wintergreen Grizzly throughout my contest prep to shunt my appetite and take the edge off (I've since quit). Now, I'm not condoning drinking and dipping, but this is just the cold, hard truth. I guess what my point is, don't look at every pic you see in a magazine and think that the guy is living this 110% veggie eating clean life.
I'm pretty sure if I did it then others are doing it too. I know for a fact most do. Actually, come to think of it EVERY SINGLE COMPETITOR that I know or am personal friends with was doing something to take the edge off when trying to get into ridiculously low body fat. One guy I know pretty much stayed high his entire contest prep, and went in looking insane. Another friend smoked cigars, myself included. A well known IFBB pro I know smokes cigars every day, but unfortunately also uses Nubaine (an extremely dangerous painkiller, don't ever fucking do i!).
The solution; don't turn to these products to keep you sane while trying to achieve a 3-4% body fat percentage. You're better to stay at a good looking 7-8% and be healthy, competition or not. I urge all of you to go look at pics of some of the old time bodybuilders, that is what you should be striving for. The healthy looking 7-8% body fat with good size to boot.
One thing I have noticed between the guys of yesterday and today is their faces. You look at a guy today who bodybuilds, Christ, his face looks 30 years older. Back in the day they looked healthy, young, vibrant. This is about 90% drug-related. Consistent steroid usage will age you in your face. So as for cheat meals, if you're already single digit body fat then don't be so hard on yourself when you want to enjoy a bad meal every once in awhile.
Enjoy life at least a little! Remember, I have competed eating a junk meal once every 3 days before. The key is to make believe it never happened and stick your course when it's done.
It's a marathon, not a sprint.
If you haven't already, please read: Cheat Meals (Part 1)