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3 Rules to Have a Cheat Meal

A cheat meal can do the body and the mind a world of good if they are used appropriately and in moderation. I am a believer in the weekly cheat meal. However, to avoid and keep your goals and body on track, you should use some rules to guide your cheat meals.  Now, diet consistency will  result in success, but sometimes a slight deviation can give better results!

Biochemically the cheat meal actually makes a lot of sense.  For one, it keeps the body guessing.  Just think of the training plateaus your body can go through; dieting plateaus are the same. After being on the same diet week after week, eating the same foods and taking in the same calories, guess what, the body adapts and slows down your progress.  By occasionally jolting up the calories and changing your macros, you can kickstart the metabolism and get the your body burning calories and fat again.

From a psychological stand point, the cheat meal can help set goals to stay on track with your diet and give you that extra motivation to get through those tough dieting days,  especially if you know a little bit of enjoyment is soon to come your way.  Here’s how to have a cheat meal – the right way!  Try using the following rules:

Rule #1: Timing is Everything – When Should You Eat Your Cheat Meal?

If you are going to add a cheat meal, make sure to have it either immediately before or after a workout. This will ensure the body uses that extra energy consumed, either during the workout or during the recovery process. You may find that when you consume a cheat meal your weight may fluctuate by a few pounds the next day.

If you have been on a low carb diet for an extended period of time and opt for a sugary carb loaded cheat meal, this weight change is most likely the result of water retention because as the body restores glycogen, water is drawn into muscles. A good cardio session or intense workout, post cheat meal will keep your weight maintained.

food cravings

Rule #2: Decisions, Decisions – What Should You Eat for Your Cheat Meal?

When choosing what your cheat meal will be, avoid heavy fats and opt for carbs that are easier to digest and utilize by the body. Also, avoid processed foods as they can contain additives, chemical preservatives and other ingredients that could wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system, especially if you have been eating a super clean diet.  It’s also important to change up your macros!  If you’ve been following a low carb diet, do a re-feed and up your carbs and lower the protein intake for your cheat meal.

If you have been following a strict diet for a long time, eating a cheat meal should shock the body in a good way.  Changing your macros and your calories can lead to increases in  not only hormones that stimulate fat burning but also those that provide mood-boosting satisfaction – such as tryptophan!  Some good options are clean carbs such as potato, baked fries, and rice, with fattier proteins such as steak, salmon or pork.

Avoid heavy dairy cheats like ice cream, cheesecake or pretty much anything with cheese, especially if you have been avoiding these foods in the past.  Dairy foods can cause inflammation, bloating and gastrointestinal distress if you’re not accustom to eating them.  Gluten based foods can also have the same effect, especially if you’re intolerant!  Avoid pastas, breads and pastries.

Cheat Meals You Should You Eat:

  • Steak with Baked Potato
  • Chicken with Gluten-Free Pasta with Pesto
  • Salmon with Rice Noodles & Veggies
  • Pork Chop with Sweet Potato

Cheat Meals You Shouldn’t Eat:

  • Heavy Cream Based Pastas
  • Sandwiches, Breads, Pastries, Cereals
  • Heavy Dairy Based Milks & Cheeses
  • Processed Meats & Cheese

Rule #3: Caloric Intake – How Many Calories Should Your Cheat Meal Be?

There are no set guidelines when it comes to how many calories your cheat meal should be as everyone’s caloric needs are different based on their daily expenditure, but a good rule of thumb is to not over do it.

Limit the calories to 10 to 20 percent over and above a regular meal. Avoid trying to stuff a whole day’s worth of calories into one meal.  You should feel full and satisfied, not like a stuffed potato.   This extra boost in calories should help you have more energy and re-stocked for the week ahead.

Try these tips the next time you want to cheat.  If you have your own tips you would like to share, please add them in the comments below.  And if you like this post, do me a favour and hit the ‘like’ button and share this article with your friends!

Until Next Time…

Be Fierce and Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

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