Cheat Mode: The Official Guide

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Cheat Mode: A scientific and surprisingly healthy way to lose fat and build muscle while fucking moderation in the ass: An Official Guide.

Consider this article as the official ‘Guide’ to Cheat Mode (CM). It outlines the major sections of CM and important criteria to note.

It should go without saying that to follow Cheat Mode you kinda need to follow Cheat Mode, but this sentence came into existence because people assume that they can manipulate critical criteria without consequences and still Getting Ripped.

Cheat Mode is designed for people who want the generic goal of ‘Building muscle while losing fat’. It is also designed to be the first daily lifestyle diet for people who thrive on extremes rather than moderation.

(1) The morning fast

The morning fast is the time where you do not eat. The ‘In-depth’ article can be found here.

As it pertains to our goals, the morning fast is a time where we do not want to:

  • Consume many, if any, calories
  • Do not break the glucagon-dominant state that is dubbed the ‘fasted state’

You are allowed many things during the fast

  • Stimulants such as coffee, tea, or thermogenic (fat-burning) pills
  • Any manner of artificial non-caloric sweetener
  • Minimal fatty acids. A little bit of cream in coffee or some fish oil tablets. Keep it below 50kcal

It should last around 8 hours or so, but don’t stress if you deviate by an hour or so to fit with your schedule.

(2) The pre-workout meal

An meal consisting of protein and fats as the major source of calories. Vegetable intake is emphasized as well for the fiber and micronutrient content. This is to aid in digestion throughout the day and get some calories in outside of the post-workout feast.

Skipping this meal and then consuming ample amounts of liquids on an empty stomach (workout nutrition) may result in not-too-solid results in the washroom. Given how dietary fat is also not emphasized  during the feast, this is a good time to get them in.

The only goal of this meal is to not significantly secrete insulin or not contain too many carbohydrates. Grains, fruits and dairy are out.

Make sure it’s fully digested before your workout.

(3) The workout

The workout itself must be heavy resistance training, either power/strength based (such as 5×5 or Olympic weightlifting) or a more volume based bodybuilding approach. There is no way around this.

The workout takes place in the late afternoon, the timing of which is based on how long one has been awake (assuming waking up at around 6-8 am or so). Working out at 2:00 will work to a degree, so will working out at around 8:00 or so. 4:00 pm is usually advised because it is a random number I have gotten used to using.

If you sleep 8 hours a night, it may help to view this as getting to the gym 6 hours before you plan to fall asleep (so if you want to sleep at midnight, arrive at the gym at 6pm), this number just seems to work. There’s no bigger necessity in a gal’s life than getting her beauty rest. Catching the optimum amount of Z’s for you to be at your peak freshness calls for the best beauty sleep accessory: the perfect silk pillowcase. If you are interested, this website will give you the best pillowcases for beauty rest and the perfect morning glow.

As you can tell by the assortment of numbers above, the exact hour the workout arrives does not matter much as long as it is in the afternoon. Of course, it has to be in the afternoon. Morning weight-lifting workouts in Cheat Mode just do…not…work.

As to why heavy weightlifting is needed, each contraction helps create signals inside muscles which control the metabolic fate of the feast. The contractions must be powerful and they must be numerous.

The effects of cheat mode, given an excessive feast, hinge on the effort put forth during workouts.

To reiterate:

  • Cardio will not work
  • Circuit training will not work
  • HIIT will not work
  • Half-assing it will not work
  • Lifting heavy shit repeatedly and really fast will work

(4) Workout Nutrition

Workout nutrition as it pertains to Cheat Mode is nutrition consumed before or during your evening workout. The In-depth article can be found here

Different options are given for workout nutrition based on where on a spectrum your body recomposition goals lay. Workout nutrition exists for focusing on fat loss, focusing on muscle mass accrual, and a balanced approach.

It should be noted that all choices will build muscle and lose fat over the course of the day, but the degrees of which they do this differs.

Choose which workout nutrition you want to follow, consume it as your stomach allows, and let it let you lift heavier shit while controlling body fat levels.

(5) The post-workout feast

The post workout feast is the time where you are allowed junk food and some other treats with minimal hindrance to your goals, fashioned after Carb-backloading. This meal is excessive and worth the wait. The ‘In-depth’ article can be found here.

Essentially, we wait until late in the day until GLUT4 (insulin-responsive) glucose uptake in both fat and muscle cells is drastically impaired, and then we partially reverse that on muscle cells only with the weightlifting. We also control inflammation and insulin secretion earlier in the day to sensitize cells at this time for when we consume delicious excess, at the time when it can most benefit muscle and not fat.

The post workout feast is a single meal with most of the days calories in it, consumed right after exercise. Certain criteria must be met for the feast to be beneficial:

  • You must have completed the fast without any flaws
  • You must have just finished a hard workout
  • You must consume ample protein during the feast, animal sources are recommended
  • You must consume delicious carbohydrates

Certain other criteria, although not needed, are advised:

  • It is recommended to get ample soluble fiber during this meal
  • It is recommended to limit fructose, as you only have so much liver glycogen buffer room
  • It is recommended to avoid excessive fatty acid consumption

This meal can be the last of the day if you want, or you may have smaller meals afterward. The smaller meals should be more moderate though, and with a higher percent protein and less carbohydrates (relative to this feast).

In regards to fructose and fats (I did not clarify these in the In-depth article):

  • You deplete some liver glycogen during exercise, and fructose can harmlessly go here. The metabolic fate of fructose if liver glycogen stores are full is different and not too beneficial for our purposes. Fructose is also contained in most junk food (via sucrose), and thus over-consumption is very possible.
  • Fatty acids will acutely go to adipose in a state of excess insulin. They can easily be taken out later during the fast, but if they do not need to be consumed than there is no reason to focus on them. Their fate is not wholly bad, so they should not be avoided either. Omega-6 fatty acid consumption (the inflammatory kind) may be beneficial at this time as well due to inflammation and muscle repair, another reason not to completely avoid fats, but just moderate them.

Also, NO alcohol should be consumed alongside this feast. If ethanol gets priority oxidation in the body (and it will, since it is a toxin) then the metabolic fate of all carbohydrates and protein changes drastically and not for the better.

Separating alcohol and the feast is the best case scenario, but due to the timing of the workout and size of the meal this would be pretty much impossible to do without becoming sleep deprived. Don’t lift on days you plan to drink, just do a control day then.

(6) Control days

Control days are days where you do not lift weights, they are designed to optimize and preserve health and as a preemptive strike against possible harms done on weightlifting days. They are guided by the Paleo principles. The ‘In-depth’ article can be found here.

  • Eat mostly Paleo foods; some leeway is fine, but keep it minimal
  • Eat a minimum of four meals a day
  • Try to get more fatty acids, fibers, and vegetables on these days since they are under-consumed on work days
  • You may intermittent fast, or you may resume day-long eating habits
  • Relax; don’t lift heavy shit

Sample Cheat Mode Diets

The following are sample diet plans for low, moderate, and high caloric intake. To calculate how many calories you should consume, start with your approximate BMR (use any formula online and use that as a guesstimate) and then add or subtract calories depending on your goals to get your daily allotment; similar to any diet plan. 500kcal increments are good to start, with modifications later on based on how you feel and how the diet has been working for you.

The Light-Palate

  • Fast: Pop a few fish oil tablets between drinks of tea
  • 2.5 hours out from the workout: 400kcal meal. 40g protein (40%) 25g fats (56%), trace carbs from veggies
  • Workout nutrition: Fat-loss protocol
  • Feast: 800kcal meal. 50% carbohydrate (100g) 30% protein (60g) 20% fat (18g)

The Basic Recomp

  • Fast: Drink coffee with some cream. Take some ephedrine
  • 2 hours out from the workout: 500kcal. 40% protein (50g) and 60% fats (33g). Some trace carbs from veggies.
  • Workout nutrition: Basic recomp approach
  • Feast: 1500kcal. 50% carbohydrate (187g) 40% protein (150g) 10% fat (17g)

The Angry Bear

  • Fast: Pulse ephedrine and caffeine with some fish oil, drink some black coffee straight out of the pot. Sneak some yohimbine HCl in there as well. Dominate life.
  • 2 hours out from workout: 500kcal, 40% protein (50g) and 60% fats (33g). Some trace carbs from veggies.
  • Workout nutrition: The Muscle building Approach protocol
  • Feast: Two scoops of whey with 15g Metamucil to get requirements out of the way. A few burgers or sandwiches (3-4) with some chocolaty treat on the side; a few (3-4) bowls of chili or borscht as well. A few babies.
  • Relatively ‘Light’ snack: What you didn’t eat before, carried on over later in the night. Maybe make some protein pudding with casein protein and cottage cheese.


(Angry Bear contains some dramatic rhetoric by the way. You still work with your calories as denoted above. I thought this would be obvious with the ‘drink coffee straight from the pot’ and ‘conquer life’, but I apparently overestimate people’s reading comprehension at times. Either that or people are just looking for reasons to hate on CM)

Other considerations given to certain Population subsets

(1) Beginners to weight lifting

If you are beginning weightlifting and follow Cheat Mode, you may not experience as ‘magical’ effects of the feast not going to fat stores. This is mainly because that, as a beginner, you do not have enough experience under weights to know what a true, powerful muscle contraction feels like. This is expected, and you learn with time.

You can either practice some moderation with the feast, or you can accept that you may not lose fat as fast (or at all) with a large feast until you get more experience under the weights.

Beginners also typically have less muscle mass, the reasons of why this matter follows.

(2) Women

The factors that guide the beneficial metabolic fates of nutrients arise from muscle contractions. Women (and beginners) typically have less muscle mass and thus less of these factors overall will be produced.

The feast can still be a feast, but you cannot consume an entire pizza at this time. Practice some moderation (in relation to the true Cheat Mode’s ideals, this moderation may still very well be a large bowl of ice cream and some cookies alongside your protein and veggie containing meal)

(3) Formerly or currently obese individuals

Nothing inherently biological is stopping cheat mode from working in obese individuals or formerly obese individuals. It’s just that we, the formerly or currently obese, have an in-human ability to consume (how do you think we got there in the first place?).

I personally have experienced binges of over 6,000kcal when I was given the excuse to, buffered by my insatiable obese-man appetite and the supposed ‘promise’ of it not going to fat stores.

For these reasons, obese individuals and formerly obese individuals who retain the inhuman ability to consume should act smart. You can eat junk, you can eat a lot of it; you should not eat everything you physically can.

The mechanisms that Cheat Mode offers to protect against fat gain can be overrun, if enough if consumed. Normal human satiety should kick in well before this point, but it does exist.

(4) Those with metabolic abnormalities

Cheat Mode has been cleared for metabolically healthy individuals (those with no significant metabolic abnormalities). These person’s bodies are able to regulate the extremes that make up Cheat Mode and significantly benefit from it.

If you suffer from metabolic abnormalities such as dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, or organ failure/damage (and any other disease states), then do not undertake Cheat Mode as there is no assurance how your body will respond.

A much better approach would be to follow something similar to Cheat Mode, but without the Cheat. Follow the morning and workout protocols, but consume basic Paleo-themed meals after the workouts. These meals may be larger than average though.

If you are on any medication, then please talk to your doctor before changing anything in your routine significantly. This should go without saying though.

(5) The pregnant or lactating, children, the elderly, and individuals under the age of 18.

No, just No.

The first two categories (Pregnant or Lactating and Children) should not fast due to very high metabolic needs (benefit of food intake is greater than the benefit of fasting), I cannot condone such drastic dietary protocols in the elderly due to unforeseen circumstances and physiological weaknesses, and I cannot recommend this to individuals under the age of 18 since they may still be growing and thus need to avoid fasting.

I realize that some individuals around the age of 18 may be done growing, but I cannot outright recommend Cheat Mode for them.

If you fall in one of these categories, no Cheat Mode for you. No questions, no debate, end of discussion.

Like any diet or exercise change, one should consult their physician or medical practitioner to see their current state of health prior to adapting Cheat Mode. None of the above should be taken as medical advice, only dietary; none of it assumes more importance than prescribed medications or diagnosed disease states.

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  1. phrakture says:

    Wait wait… you said the fast should be “at least 8 hours”. Do you mean 8 hours AFTER waking? I was under the impression there was no real benefits from fasting less that 14 hours or so.

    • Silverhydra says:

      There are many benefits to fasting.

      For our purposes (Cheat Mode), we want the benefits of insulin sensitivity and merely saving calories for later in the day. Both of these can happen in an 8 hour period.

      There are some other benefits that occur with prolonged fasting, such as an increase in heat expenditure (Thermogenin, UCP1). These do not occur in Cheat Mode sadly since the fast is terminated at 16 hours.

      But yes, I meant 8 hours after waking since I am assuming people fast in their sleep :)

  2. markh says:

    Can the CM schedule be adjusted to account for morning workouts? I am currently using the Leangains approach (timed BCAA consumption between 6AM workout and breaking the fast in the early afternoon).

  3. TyGuy009 says:

    I’m sorry, but there is nothing scientific about this fad diet. The individual that posted this diet should actually be ashamed of themselves. I have been referred to this site by a friend to provide him with feedback. With a background in bodybuilding and several personal training courses, I’m sure I’m partially qualified to say that this diet is bullsh*t.
    Do you even know what fasting does? Fasting lowers your body’s ability to burn calories as your heart rate and breathing rate decreases over night. By extending this into the day when you are active, your body is actually entering into starvation mode. Any calories intaken, or feast as you would call it, are absorbed by the body and stored as fat. Your body is meant to eat over 2 to 3 hours.
    Also, eating large amounts of sugar any any time of the day, especially after working out, is going to spike the blood sugar levels. This will be extremely stressful on the pancrease which will need to release an obseen amount of insulin to balance this out. If this diet is practiced for a long period of time, the individual will be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
    In case you weren’t aware, strength training (3-5 rep range) or any anaerobic exercise, such as weight lifting, primarily burns carbohydrates as a fuel source. By encouraging people to train with no carbohydrates in their system you are impeding them from actual results.
    People, fitness is a lifestyle, not a temporary p.o.s. diet and training schedule. If you want a good balanced meal plan to follow then follow the Canadian Food Recommendations. Remember that there are three keys to success in fitness, just as there are for any other area of your life: Intensity, Dedication, and Consistency.

    To the writer of this article, how’s that for scientific for you? Be sure to do your research to make sure you are not held responsible for somebody’s death.

    • Silverhydra says:

      Please read the In-depth articles listed, go back to Leangains (for fasting) and DangerouslyHardcore (for carb-backloading). Then buy the Paleo Solution (for the control days) or borrow it from a friend.

      You may be a bodybuilder and a personal trainer, but I am a bodybuilder (albeit a small one, 200lbs) and a dietetic student in university. I am trained in the human body.

      I am trained under the Dietetics of Canada, I know the recommendations intimately. I am also trained in disease states, *and* I have contraindicated Cheat Mode in compromised individuals.

      I have also taken personal training courses and know, first hand, how pathetic their depth of nutrition is. They stick to recommendations since that is all they need to be concerned about (since most do not legally qualify you to prescribe diets).

      For every ounce of qualification you have, I have several.

      How’s that for scientific? Not really. If you follow the sources back, you will find the science on my end.

  4. TyGuy009 says:

    Please supply us with your degrees, school(s) you attended and sources where you obtained this information. It’s quite apparent that not much research went into this article. Fasting is extremely dangerous for extended periods of time. Being that you are clearly not a qualified individual as you gave no recommendation that whoever follow this diet consult their physicial first, you are liable for any consequences.

    • Silverhydra says:

      You know when I said:

      “Please read the In-depth articles listed, go back to Leangains (for fasting) and DangerouslyHardcore (for carb-backloading). Then buy the Paleo Solution (for the control days) or borrow it from a friend.”

      I meant it.

      Cheat Mode has been adapted from Martin Berkhan’s notion of Intermittent fasting and John Kiefer’s Carb-backloading, I provided links to their respective blogs as a thanks for doing the research for me. On those blogs you will find direct links to Medline and other journals on fasting and carb-backloading.

      As for education, I am a dietetic student, third year; University of Guelph if that matters. I make no attempts to hide behind my lack of empirical certification as if people read what I write, I guide them to the science behind my stance.

      However, you raise a good point about liability. I should not assume that my small paragraph at the end addressing metabolically compromised individuals is direct enough, I shall edit in the typical warning.

    • phrakture says:

      Fasting is dangerous? You apparently haven’t kept up on any modern medical research since you took your classes. I’d highly recommend you read Brad Pilon’s “Eat, Stop, Eat” which is 95% science, with numerous studies and references.

  5. TyGuy009 says:

    While the University of Guelph is legit, a lot of the links on your other blogs are broken, leading to nowhere. Please source your sites as the working links only lead to your other posts.

  6. jelo says:

    Hi Silver, first of all I would like to big up your information sharing, especially the CM approach.
    I really enjoy reading your articles couse you keep it simple, straight to the point and you ALWAYS backup your finding and recommendations with science studies.

    You know I have a question :) so here it is:

    I strength train 4 times a week (wed/thur and sut/sun).
    On wed/thur I fast till 1pm, train at 6pm and do all out CM till 8pm. On weekends I train at 9am and break my fast at 1pm with a large feast (LG) and eat one or two small meals till 8pm. I train early because then I have more time in the day + I like training fested.

    I’ve read Kiefer’s Caffeine Therapy, and was wandering what are your thoughts on going heavy on caffeine and do CM for lunch, not dinner. Or should I just follow low carb till dinner? The reason I’m asking is that Lg suggests that you should eat big after your training (1-2 hours latter).

    (bdw: I’m 6ft, 170 pounds @ 7% bf)

    Silver, thanks and keep it up !

    • Silverhydra says:

      Disclosure: I am a caffeine whore.

      Although it would not be ‘perfect’ CM by training at 9am and feasting at 1pm, having caffeine during your training and feast would exert CM-like effects by reducing insulin resistance. Like Kiefer says in his ‘Caffeine Therapy’ article (great read, btw), it’s not a replacement, but adjunct therapy.

      I’d say the ‘best’ option would to proceed with CM as normal, but if you cannot do so, then do some heavy caffeine therapy.

      • jelo says:

        I’m still interested in your opinion about carbs PW.
        Should I stay lowcarb till 6pm like Kiefer suggests and then do a backload
        or should I eat carbs 1-2 hour PW.

        • Silverhydra says:

          It’s your choice. I would personally have them post-workout but create a *temporary* insulin resistant state with caffeine, and then focus on re-sensitizing to insulin the rest of the day with veggies and generally low-carb approach (either IF in the evening or do something akin to a control day).

          I like the local growth factors that come from a workout (that are only elevated highly for a few hours) too much to not eat at this time. Although moderation should be taken in your feast if this early.

  7. LG says:

    Is the timing of the first meal based on “fast for 16 hours” or “two hours before the workout”? i.e. If I’m working out at, say, 6:00, does it work to still eat lunch closer to noon, so long as the fast is long enough? Or are you deliberately pushing the first meal later into the day?

    • Silverhydra says:

      If you work out in the afternoon *and* you have your first meal 2 hours before your workout, it almost always works out that you fast for 16 hours.

      If not, then start the fast 2 hours before bedtime.

      Don’t get caught up in the exact numbers, an extra hour or one less isn’t going to kill ya :)

  8. tyler_stoner says:

    Thanks for your constant curiosity and for sharing this info with us. Can you please expand on the “dietary fat”? Are you talking about suplements or what kind of food? Sorry for the question, English its not my first language and I think i’m misunderstanding the google results. Thanks again.

  9. buggler says:

    Hey Silverhydra. Thanks for the articles about cheatmode. I know you say you have to “follow cheatmode to follow cheatmode” but for various reasons regarding how I get my meals made, I can’t follow a few things regarding the protein/carb/fat percentages mentioned here (I get generic 450 calorie meal packs made for me whose P/C/F would be around 30/50/20 on average.

    Instead, I follow the following system to try lose weight.

    Workout days:

    Fast until 12pm. Eat 450 calories of a generic meal (ie) rice with satay chicken)
    2PM: Skinny cappuccino
    4PM: Drink a protein shake
    5PM: Work out with heavy weights
    6PM: Stuff myself with 600 calories of cereal, milk, protein and then another 450 calorie generic meal (~1800 calories a day)

    Non workout days:

    Pretty much the same as work out days but I space out my cereal and my 400 calorie generic dinner meal

    So my question is that while I would ideally like to follow cheatmode exactly, it isn’t compatible with my current working system. Are there benefits from simply following a 16 hour fast and eating the same things as I would normally but just shifting the calories consumed to after my workout?


  10. tacticalpanda says:

    I was wondering about Ephedrine use. I plan on using ECA twice in the morning on workout days to help me fast for a greater length of time. This is the only time I will be taking ECA. So that is 25mg E / 200mg C / 80mg A twice a day, 3 times a week. Any idea long can I go at that level before i risk decreasing it’s effectiveness? Is that spaced out far enough that I don’t need to worry about cycling my ECA usage on and off?

  11. TrainWithEl says:

    How would this work with someone who works the midnight shift (10pm-6:30am) and works out in the morning (7am)?

    • Silverhydra says:

      Timing wise, it would be that you fast for the first 8 hours after waking and work out sometime in the 4-6 hours before you go to sleep. So in your case, you might fast until around 4-5am, workout at 7am, and have a large ‘breakfast’ before falling asleep.

      There are some reports from shift workers that this timing works well. However, the science behind circadian rhythms and GLUT4 hasn’t looked at shift work as far as I can tell, so the anecdotes are all I can build upon at this moment in time.

  12. TrainWithEl says:

    Thank you for you timely reply. I guess the time from 5am to 7am is where I would have fit in the pre-workout nutrition, correct?

  13. Mogwoggle says:

    Hey Silver, thanks for doing this as always.

    If I wake up at 4:30, don’t hit the gym until 5:30, am I better off fasting for 16 hours or breaking the fast 2 hours before my workout session? (Last meal of the day at roughly 8pm, breaking fast would be at 12, which I’ve been doing)


  14. joeygimmons says:

    I hate to bother you with an extremely specific question but my knowledge base is not good enough to answer it myself so I have to turn to advice.

    I am in the military and do morning pt for about an hour every weekday starting at 6:30. This is usually 2-3 miles of jogging+hill sprints on mondays, pushups/pullups/situps tuesdays, ruck wednesdays, pushups/pullups/situps, thursdays, 6 mile run fridays. Usually get to the gym to do my lifting from 6-6:30 pm which is the soonest I can manage. I want to do cheat mode but feel like complete nutrition deprivation before and after morning pt is a bad idea. My current response is whey before and after morning pt then no eating until whey before my workout and then I feast.

    Is this still cheat mode? If not is it still somewhat effective? Is there a better way to deal with the morning pt variable (just bcaa’s instead of whey?)

  15. Llama says:

    I’m new to dieting / exercise I’ve been fat for a really long time and am finally ready to do something about it. A friend of mine introduced me to the carb backloading diet and I ended up finding your diet and I think it’s what I’ve been looking for. But I have a couple of questions.

    1. I work two days a week on weekends merchandising (stocking shelves / moving product around) for a beverage company (Pepsi) I work out three days a week Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. My off days would then be Monday and Wednesday. I’m not sure what to do about Saturday and Sunday. I lift 10-40 pound cases over and over for 8-10 hours all day, not enough I’m sure to earn a binge at the end of the day but more than is recommended for off days. Any suggestions?

    2. On the other carb backloading diet there was an introductory 10-day period with minimal exercise and less than 30 carbs a day. Do I not need that with this diet?

  16. zarrin77 says:

    Thank you very much for Cheat Mode. I think its brilliant work.

    One question regarding the 2.5 hr pre-workout meal:

    Is there any reason we cannot just skip this meal, to stay in a fasted state longer, and then put the fat/protein you would have taken pre-workout in the last meal before bed?

    Thank you! Love your site (and LOVE!

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