- Getting truly ripped usually means you have to skip junk food.
- Junk food isn’t filling or nutritious, and it can cause you to struggle to stay on track with your diet when trying to get ripped.
- Junk food is calorific than whole food, meaning you end up eating less.
Junk food! We all love it … ’till we turn 25 and realize fiber is a thing, and we finally know what “regular” means in TV adverts.
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While social media might have you believe otherwise, you probably can’t get truly ripped while eating junk food. But yet, influencers post about junk food all the time?
Let’s discuss this.
What Classifies as “Junk Food” and “Whole Food”?
Imagine you have two athletes going against one another at the Olympics. One has been dieting on chicken, beef, eggs, white rice, vegetables, and fruits. The other has dined on a selection of pepperoni pizza, nuggets, fries, and double-thick milkshakes.
Who would you bet money on?
In this imaginable world, the person dieting on healthier foods would typically perform better. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons, really:
- Healthier food tends to contain more protein, an essential part of building muscle and burning fat.
- Healthier food also typically contains more fiber, an essential nutrient that’s also been shown to aid in fat loss.
- Junk food can sometimes cause people to develop eating disorders.
- Healthier foods could help with fighting inflammation and even help improve sleep (and, therefore, recovery).
- Healthier foods will also always contain more minerals, vitamins, and other micronutrients that can aid performance.
So, there are a host of reasons why you’d wanna stick to healthier options for performance.
But what about aesthetics? What if you wanna look like a Greek god? Could you have your fried Halloumi cheese, too?
Getting Ripped While Eating Junk Food
There’s one major issue with eating junk food (consistently) while dieting to get ripped. See, getting ripped typically means you gotta reach sub-8% body fat, something most would struggle with quite a lot.
That problem is calories.
When you’re trying to lose weight, calories matter more than anything else — the old adage of calories in vs. calories out really rings true.
If you eat junk food, there’s a high chance you’ll go over calories. While this won’t always be the case, the chance is much higher than if you were to eat healthier food.
So, again, let’s look at two different people.
|Day||Dieter 1: Diets 90% perfectly||Dieter 2: Eats a lot of junk food|
|Mon||0 calories over||0 calories over|
|Tue||20 calories over||180 calories over|
|Wed||30 calories under||30 calories under|
|Thu||100 calories over||0 calories over|
|Fri||50 calories under||190 calories over|
|Sat||60 calories over||230 calories over|
|Sun||0 calories over||0 calories over|
Person two might exclaim that they diet so well, and 4 days a week, they were on point! That said, their net “over” calories is a whopping 570.
Dieter 1, while not perfect either, was consistent. They only went over by 100. Over a month, that’s 400 calories over vs. more than 2,000 calories over.
Look me straight in the eyes and tell me that wouldn’t make a difference. Of course, it would!
Would you always go over if you eat junk food? Debatable. However, we know from clients and studies that it’s a lot harder to stay on track with junk food in there — granted, the goal is getting completely shredded.
Does that mean you can never ever eat junk food? No, of course not. You just can’t get out of control with the junk food…
Cheat Meals vs. Refeeds
You may have come across the term “refeed meals” or “refeed days” while on your journey of fitness education, and oftentimes, we confuse these with cheat meals (junk food).
Here’s the difference:
What Are Cheat Meals?
Cheat meals are planned meals that go completely “against” calorie tracking. These are usually planned around events or certain occasions. So, if you have a birthday dinner on Friday, and you’d like to eat something nice, you’d plan accordingly.
In a cutting phase, you might end up lowering calories on other days to “spend” more on Friday. These meals serve no function other than to give you a bit of a mental break.
What Are Refeed Meals?
Refeed meals serve a greater purpose, particularly when it comes to glycogen replenishment. Some people even argue that it could help you lose weight faster by “ramping” up your metabolism. The effectiveness of this has never really been proven, but some athletes swear by this.
And by athletes, I mean bodybuilders… We’ve all seen their 20,000-calorie challenges, so how do they do it? How do they eat junk food and stay ripped?
Do Bodybuilders Eat Junk Food?
As you can see from the video above, there are definitely bodybuilders that eat junk food. Hell, only those who literally cannot access junk don’t eat it.
Want McD’s in the middle of the Namib desert? Shame.
Yes, from time to time, bodybuilders do eat junk food. Don’t misinterpret this, though, because 95% of the time, they don’t even use milk in their coffee, let alone do they chow down on burgers and fries.
The only reasons you’d ever see a bodybuilder eat junk food are if:
- They’re in a bulking phase, and since junk food is calorically dense, they can use this “cheat” to help them reach calories.
- They have just finished a prep or cutting phase, and they’re treating themselves.
- They have a cheat meal planned around a social event, such as their own wedding.
One reason why they “can” do this while still looking insanely muscular is … because they’re so insanely muscular. Someone asked once why bodybuilders always have abs, even if they’re fat. The reason is: they probably have more muscle in their abs than most people do in their bodies.
Of course, it’ll show, even if they’re a bit pudgy!
Another benefit of all that muscle is they run hot! They burn a ton of calories just by staying alive.
Think about it this way — the more muscle you have, the bigger your car’s engine. A bigger engine will use more fuel, even if it’s only idle, compared to a smaller engine. Being that big is energetically inefficient, and, hence, they need all those calories to maintain that size.
Don’t Believe Everything You See Online
We’ve been misled by social media to believe that athletes and influencers do this all the time. However, this is not feasible for the majority of the population. We don’t have their genetics, we don’t have their performance-enhancing drugs, and — most likely — they’re probably lying!
“I still eat like this, and I’m lean!”
“Got it, cut!”
*spits out the food* “Okay, phew, let me get back to my calorie deficit and a cardio routine.”
How to Eat Junk Food Without Losing Progress
Here’s a great way I’ve used intermittent fasting with clients to help them stay on track. Let’s say they have an anniversary date with their loved ones, and they don’t want to overshoot their calories.
I might have them do the following:
- Remove carbs and fats from your diet on the day of the date.
- Have protein-rich meals (protein shakes, chicken/turkey breast, or tuna, with salad) if you’re hungry prior to the date.
- Have a nice meal on the date, but don’t eat everything in sight!
Protein is unlikely to turn into fat, so they “fast” ‘till they have dinner. This means they have 60 – 70% of their calories to spend on that date! Job done!
But I still wouldn’t advise this method every single day, as it could lead to eating disorders. Use it as necessary, and be sure to realize that you’re bound to feel hungry when dieting. It’s a reality you have to come to terms with and just accept, unfortunately.
Can You Get Ripped Eating Junk Food?
Oh, this is a question I wish I could answer “yes” to because I would love to have butter on toast with Croque monsieur for lunch. The truth is, you probably cannot be eating junk food while getting truly ripped.
Sure, you can still have some cheat meals. However, you would have to plan them!
Being truly ripped takes time, effort, and consistency. The leaner you get, the harder it will be to have junk food in your diet.
For some of us who’ve been naturally skinny our whole lives, we might be able to “afford” pancakes every now and then, but for the most part — no, you cannot eat junk food while getting ripped.