I am a big fan of cheat meals, not just because you can eat all of the things that stereotypically aren’t good for building a good physique but because of the benefits they can have for you mentally and physically. If you currently follow a cutting diet and are consuming fewer calories than you burn daily with low or strategic carbs then a cheat meal can replenish some of the energy you may lack and give your body enough to feed off going into the next week on this strict diet.
Cheat With Something That Works
So with a little bit of experimentation, you are quickly going to realize the foods that you should cheat with and the ones you should not. Some people react well to sugar so ice cream, cookies, sweets and chocolate are good cheats, some people react well to pizza and bagels, you just need to find what works for you. I would recommend having a cheat meal either on a set day or when you are feeling low on energy from low calorie or restrictive diet plans. I would then choose a cheat that has a positive impact on those low energy feelings. Personally, if I binge on just chocolate or sweets I feel a little bit light the next day, I need a good amount of food with more than just sugary carbs to replenish my energy levels. On the other side of this if I stuff pizza down my throat I look like I have never dieted in my life the next day, it’s all about making it work for you.
There is a difference between a tactical cheat meal and giving in to temptation. If you are not planning on a cheat meal and you feel great on your diet then you smell some cinnamon buns at the mall and decide it’s time for a cheat meal then your system is broken, you need to put in the disciplined time to warrant a cheat otherwise you are just eating badly. I understand if friend visits or something like that and you move your cheat to align with something you want to do but spur of the moment cheats usually leaves you feeling bad and guilty.
You can only cheat as many times as your body can handle. This can be based on how much you are working out, what you have coming up workout wise (you aren’t going to fuel for a marathon with a small salad), how lean you are and how fast your metabolism is naturally. I strongly recommend calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the number of calories your body burns at rest and then working off that. Additional exercise means additional calories are available, tracking food on an app is also a smart way to go when planning these types of events. So overall the higher your BMR, the lower your body fat percentage, the more exercise you do and the faster your metabolism is then the more you can get away with cheat meals.
Cheat meals change up your body’s response to food much like changing methods of training it keeps the body guessing. If your body gets use to a certain number of calories and types of food, then it will slow down its burning of these calories and you will eventually plateau in your weight-loss. By adding in a cheat meal or day and upping the calories, upping the sugar and upping the carbohydrates consumed your body has an “oh wow” moment and starts burning at a more rapid rate to deal with all of this then when you go back to your healthy diet with less calories it continues to burn at a high rate. Then you repeat the process.
Take Home Message
This is not an excuse to binge on terrible food and the overall approach should still be to eat healthy food, I don’t want to give you an excuse to justify cheating on your diet, I want you to have another tool in your arsenal when things get to a sticking point. I recommend eating clean 90-95% of the time and 5% of your week should be designated to having something naughty, something that makes the rest of the week bearable. Make sure you don’t over-do it or the rest of your week will be spent making up for that one meal.