In Nutrition, Videos

March 20, 2009

Video Article

Pat Sherwood is one of CrossFit HQ’s top trainers. He is on the road most weekends at the various CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 certification seminars. He is also a great athlete who is cranking out some very impressive WOD performances. Proper nutrition is essential for optimizing performance. But how can that happen with so much time on the road?

There are many theories out there about cheat meals. Some folks say that they are psychologically necessary for success. Others insist that the occasional feast triggers a growth hormone. Some argue against them completely, especially in the early stages of trying to change a diet.

The generally accepted CrossFit approach is to cheat hard on a predetermined schedule. Pat Sherwood sets out on an ambitious evening of dessert. This is but one example of good cheating. Others are hitting the pasta and pizza bar, or a massive buffet, before dessert. The bottom line is: Don’t hold back!

The preview to this video on the main site is actually another short episode, completely different from this Cheat Night. You can see it here: LAX Layover video [wmv] [mov]

5min 38sec

Free Download


45 Comments on “Zone Chronicles: Cheat Night”


wrote …

It's my cheat night tonight too. Pretty cool to be eating my mexican food, churros with chocolate dipping sauce, and chocolate covered cashews and see this as the Journal video. Mmmmm, delectable.


wrote …

What do people think is a better approach for the cheat meals. Spreading out 3 or 4 cheat meals throughout the week, 1 day of eating whatever or 1 epic cheat meal?? Or is it just a personal thing? What about spreading out all the food from the cheat, into little mini cheats each day- or would that totally defeat the purporse of the zone?

I follow a paleo diet (plus milk....i love milk). But I'm thinking about starting to zone in and weigh/measure. Initially, I was hesistant because I knew I would cheat and then I'd feel like I was failing. So I never bothered starting, because I knew I would cave. I'm interested in being more strict, knowing that cheating is 'ok' and quite common....Thanks Pat!


wrote …

Ha! So, that is the secret to refueling after an AMRAP? Who knew?


wrote …

I love your work, Pat! Another great Zone Chronicle vid!

Can I just ask that everyone does not base their opinion of the country Australia of what they saw in the movie 'Australia'! lol


wrote …

What I have found that I get "food hangovers." I can't eat a whole bunch of crap in one day. I weigh and measure at 15 blocks, 3x fat. I eat paleo plus dairy, usually in the form of cottage cheese, milk, and cheese. Usually a "cheat" meal for me is one where I ignore the blocking and eat as much as I want. If I am hungry, on a busy day that started with a rough WOD, and I am going to break my blocking, it will be with additional protein and additional fat, usually in the form of nuts - I'll eat a bag of trail mix, for instance.

What you will find is that a paleo diet is the most efficient way to eat - it is the most natural, and you body uses paleoithic foods much better than anything processed. Additionally, the insulin response from Paleo foods are not nearly as strong than from your processed foods - therefore triggering a weaker hormonal storage response since there is a weaker associated glysemic load. Also, grass-fed beef and game, free range chicken (and eggs from free range chickens) are way WAY higher on Omega-3s and way lower in Omega-6s than from grain fed animals.

The problem - stuff is expensive.

I'm past the point of "eat this, not that." I like to understand the input. I would recommend reading a book titled, "Paleo for Athletes." Pair it up with Sears' book and you will have a great base of knowledge on making the smart choices, both with Zone and Paleo. Be warned, there are a few contridictions between the two, but they are minor - but you will pick them up. If you eat like an athlete, you will perform like a athlete. If you eat like a fat kid......

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist, or dietitian. I am tank officer in the US Army. My training is only the books I have read and Robb Wolf's nutrition cert. So it I am off a bit in my explaination, sorry, but I am probably in the right neighborhood. On the other hand, I can speak to the paralax of the primary, auxillary, and thermal sights of the M1A2 tank.

But man, I love peanut butter cup ice cream......


wrote …

It wasn't cheat day for me until I this POS video, then I had to run right out and buy a tub of the Ben&Jerrys - they call it Peanut Butter Tracks in Canada...and BTW, I mean POS in the most respectful way possible, thanks Pat! Sure tastes paleo to me...


wrote …

Great vid Pat! I'm trading in my superman lunch box for a Pat Sherwood one. Now I really know how a proper cheat is done!


wrote …

I totaly agree on what Pat said about serving size...what umpalumpas only eat a 1/2cup of ice cream, thats crap!


wrote …

Pat is priceless!! Me and my husband love the vocabulary that he uses...down the hatch!! Awesome job...keep it comin!


wrote …

Hey Pat,
GREAT choice on the Ben & Jerry's for cheat food, its my favorite! I've watched the other zone chronicle videos too and I noticed that there aren't too many grains in your diet. I was just wondering if that has any impact on B vitamin intake or if you eat other food to compensate for the vitamins and minerals most people get from eating grains.


wrote …

Chubby Hubby is where it's at.


wrote …

cheat meals or awesome. I find if I have a cheat breakfast the whole day goes into a cheat. so I tend to save the cheating till dinner so I limit the amount of time to do damage.


wrote …

That Australia tangent was epic.


wrote …

Awesome series


wrote …

Lately every night has been my cheat night, but I can't thank you enough for the mayo idea. I'd never seen that brand before so I didn't eat mayo very often. Now I eat it every time I'm eating turkey meat. Not only is mayonnaise my favorite condiment, it is also my favorite emulsion. Best served on a spoon.


wrote …

Im not gonna lie, I am a little disappointed. Maybe next time he should have the Vermonster. Still was cracking up the entire time.


replied to comment from Kelli Holmes


Eating a diet varied in fruits and vegetables will provide you with MORE vitamins and minerals than grains. A rich source of vitamin B is turkey and tuna. Most grain-based foods have high amounts of vitamins because they are added to replace some of the nutrition that processing took away.

I envy you. As a female, I know my body cannot handle downing a pint of Ben and Jerry's weekly. Although if I could, B&J Phish Phood is my ice cram of choice, and I have sampled EVERY flavor I can (pre-crossfit). I do my cheat meals on a much smaller proportion (but I guess my workouts compared to yours would probably be at that same proportion =) Thanks for the vid.


wrote …

These are good and fun Pat!

Tony, How bout finding an athlete you really is aiming to optimize his performance and do things the right way. Somebody that is competing to win the games maybe.


wrote …

Dude, Pat you forgot to say I "crushed" the Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream!!! Don't lose the trademark slogan..


wrote …

I went 2 weeks without sugar (trying to get off of the 'crack'). Then went out of town to celebrate a birthday. I wrestled with the idea of having a cheat day. It sure sounded like a good idea, but I didn't want to be mad at myself on the day after for 'relapsing'. I decided it would be okay to go forward with the plan of one cheat day, but I sure wasn't going to blow 2 weeks of top fuel diet for some crap (like the cheap a** spumoni ice cream my family was eating at the restaurant). If I was going to cheat, it would have to be righteous. So I started plotting and planning my cheat. While at a restaurant waiting for people to show up before going out, my wife and I even scanned the dessert menu to see if this fancy restaurant could offer up an appetizer and dessert tempting enought to initiate Operation Cheat Day. What they had wasn't good enough. Long story short, we had to postopone iniatiating the operation until returning to an old favorite once back in our neighborhood - Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ. After the meal at Lucille's, we planned for a major ice cream run on the way home.
At Lucille's, the baby rack ribs smothered in full of sugar BBQ sauce initiated Operation Cheat Day. The operation concluded on the couch watching Seinfeld re-runs while killing, with extreme enjoyment, a man size serving (1 pint) of the #1 cheat product - Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. For me, it is all about "Smore's" and "Marsha Marsha Marshmallow".
The operation was successful. Howerver, even though the next several days saw a return of cravings for sweets, it was well worth it. And just knowing that another cheat day is out there, on the horizon, makes the top fuel discipline much more bearable. I have to earn the right to cheat by being disciplined all week. A fair trade for sure!!


wrote …

Dude. That would kill me. Seriously.


wrote …

Dude. I just watched it again. I will never feel bad about another cheat meal ever again. Thanks for your sacrifice.


replied to comment from Michael Gregory

Michael Gregory,
I just put a call in to Jason Khalipa, the 2008 winner of the CrossFit Games. I'll try to get some footage of his regular diet for you all.


wrote …

Man, I used to cheat like a bandit every Saturday (it's like my week would just be the lead-up to Saturdays) but man, I was a sack of dirt on Sundays. It's like I was hungover without drinking any booze. Now I'll try to make my own treats/cheats and I'll have them in accordance to the Zone every few days. I couldn't stop myself from over doing it on Saturdays and I've found that works way better for maintaining the sanity.

PS. The PB ice cream is amazing.


wrote …

Thats about the same way i blow my cheat days out, 1 pint of ben and jerrys and 3-2-1-Go! Go big or go home


wrote …

Another great video Pat! I can sit and watch these types of videos all day. I think there should be more of these from others as well. It is interesting to see what people eat on a daily basis and especially cheat meals.
Depending on how I feel I will either take a cheat meal weekly or make a day out of it and make sure it is the day before a rest day because I am usually worthless the next day. Since started the Paleo about 2 weeks ago I have not had a drop of alcohol. What are everyone else's thoughts on drinking? How often do you do it? Is it going to kill me if I go out in the middle of the week to watch a game and have a couple beers? What about you Pat?



I'm not sure the fire-breathers preparing for the games are eating like fat kids on their cheat days, but it has been noticed that many of our best athletes do not micro-manage their diets. I'm fairly sure I remember Khalipa talking about this daily muffin at breakfast.


You do have guys who can pretty much eat fairly clean, eat what they want, when they want it, and still have outstanding performances. Khalipa can get away with it, but then you have OPT who is completely on the other end of the spectrum. He is incredibly meticulous with tracking his hormonal responses to his diet and accounts for everything that he takes in. It all depends on what kind of athlete you are and what you are looking to accomplish through CrossFit. If you want to learn more about OPT's dietary habits, check out Robb Wolf's blog post:


wrote …

Zach, I believe you're right. All of Crossfit's top tier athletes accomplish incredible things, but I have a profound respect for OPT because I don't think he's necessarily one of these natural monsters like Jason Khalipa or Gillian Mounsey (Who have both admitted to less-than-stellar personal nutrition practices). I see James Fitzgerald as a man who has gotten where he is through rigorous analysis and fine-tuning of his body to squeeze out every drop of athletic potential that he has. As my high school theater director said, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."


Russell Berger wrote …


Thanks for the link. What's the old quote? "It's not the fastest athlete who wins the race but the one who is best prepared for it"... something like that.


Daniel Martin wrote …

Everyday is a cheat day. Hammer those chocolate products and watch the times drop. The old 80/20 split is all you need.


wrote …

Pat, loving the zone chronicles. The canola mayo has become a staple in my arsenal of fats in my diet. Great stuff. I've been highly anticipating this cheat video and it was worth the wait. FYI- I was reading the fine print on my girl scout cookie box and they are even Paleo! Who would have thought.....


wrote …

I know you said these aren't supposed to be funny, but they are. The execution and blend of dry wit and sarcasm doubles me over. Now that's a cheat meal. Keep them coming Pat. How do you feel the next day after a binge like that?


wrote …

Loved this episode. And the rest, but this is one definitely was the funniest so far. Keep em coming Pat.


wrote …

What's going on everyone?

Just got back from the Calgary seminar..........what a blast!

#26, Dan: I don't really drink, never really have. I just can't stand the way I feel the next day.

#33, Nick: The next day I feel okay, not great, but okay. It's ALWAYS worth it though!!

We'll keep the vids coming....


Marie Poukalova wrote …

Damn Pat, when you cheat- you really cheat. I think I would throw up trying to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting. Maybe a pint spread throughout the day...


Matthew Lucas wrote …

Ok, now I really know how to have a "cheat meal."

I started the Zone a week ago and for the last three days have been experiencing random headaches throughout the day. I've been Paleo for about three or so months, so I know the headaches aren't from sugar withdrawal. I do drink one cup of unsweetened coffee every morning, can't quit. Has anyone else experienced this headache problem? What causes these headaches? When will they go away?


replied to comment from Matthew Lucas

I experienced head aches a little bit and I think for me it was one of two reasons. The first one being that with the work I was putting in at the gym I wasn't drinking enough water thru the day although I thought I was. Another thing is I don't think I breathe enough when working out or breathe "correctly". I've read that you should try to control your breathing the best you can while working out or else you can become fatigued faster which may lead to head aches. I am not an expert in any of this but once I started drinking more water and paying more attention to my breathing the headaches subsided.


Thanks Dan! I think you are right about the water thing. I started drinking much more water yesterday and I haven't felt any sign of a headache since. Two days into week two of the zone and I'm starting to feel some positive changes. Thanks!


replied to comment from Tony Budding

i'm sure it would be fun to see how jason K eats, but he seems like a pretty relaxed guy when it comes to food - probably tries to eat clean, but nothing too fancy.

i think it would be interesting to follow someone like robb wolf or OPT to see how they eat and the reasons for their choices. eg when to eat, how to incorporate IF, paleo-zone modifications, what kind of fat they cook with, etc!

vs. i do strict zone or i try to eat clean


wrote …

Beautiful work Pat! Nice to see you sucked Joe and Dom into your gluttony. Hopefully I run into you guys soon.


wrote …

After seeing this vid I figured I would step up my cheat day with the same ice cream as Pat. I think cheat days are gonna be just like heavy WOD's were for me at first with crossfit, I need to scale them. I am sitting here post meal feeling worse then I do after Fran, I think i even have a fever. Impressive performance Pat!


wrote …

Wait... i can hav a cheat night? OMG! im 16 an havnt cheated 4 2weeks an every time i cheat i feel shamefull and bad. im going 2 the store an buying some ice cream and having my first cheat night with my brother! thanx pat the zone chronicles are awsome and quite funny.


wrote …

thats about how i do my cheat meal. i feel like a get extra special pleasure out of it because i am eating to the point that im gorged and the most terrible stuff but as long as i dial it back in the next day - work out and back to eating zone - i'm good to go. HOWEVER, i find that instead of making me sick to my stomach when i look at sweets I am definitely back to hardcore cravings for the next couple of days which is a little dangerous and hard to work through.


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

I love nothing more than spending my cheat meals at the glorious golden arches.

1 Big Mac
1 Angus Third Pounder
1 Mc Chicken
1 large Chocolate Shake

Needless to say I feel awful afterwards

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