The Cheat Meal Cheatsheet
Sticking to a strict diet and making sure to hit your macros every meal, with proper protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption, can take a toll on you mentally. That being said, a cheat meal every now and then can be good for you, and can even help to kick your metabolism up a notch if you have been dieting for a long time. A cheat meal is typically a meal that is way off of your diet, and can be anything from pizza to burger.
While a cheat meal may be good for you mentally and maybe even physically, it can also leave you feeling pretty bad, and we don’t mean just an upset stomach. If you’ve ever had the feeling of regret and remorse after eating a cheat meal, you’re not alone. If you take it too far, a cheat meal can not only demoralize you, but it can also cause setbacks and put you behind on your schedule.
Fitness freaks can only dream of a world where they could eat a cheat meal without compromising on their goals. What if we told you the so-desired parallel universe is a reality and within your grasp?
Let’s take a look at when it is okay to eat off diet, and how to do so without feeling bad about your decision.
Plan Before Your Cheat Meal
There are two types of cheat meals, first are the ones programmed into your diet plans and the others are unplanned. An unplanned cheat meal can happen when you are out to dinner and can’t find anything that fits your macros, or you just succumb to your cravings and end up eating off diet. You should try your best to stay away from the unplanned cheat meals all together, and enjoy the programmed cheat meals without any guilt.
Some people try to avoid junk food altogether which is also not a great idea, as sometimes your body needs those less than ideal foods to suppress cravings and keep your mental state healthy. Feasting on the cheat meals comes as a shock to your body if you’re following a balanced and clean diet for the rest of the week.
One thing that many people do not realize is that adding a cheat meal to your diet plan can actually help to boost your metabolism and burn calories even when you’re not physically active. Once-a-week junk food meal can be incredibly effective if your goal is to put on muscle mass while simultaneously burning body fat.
Don’t Sleep On It
After you’ve made the cardinal sin of eating an unplanned cheat meal, the worst thing you can do is go to sleep, you want to try and at least burn some of those calories off and force your body to use up what you just consumed. If you do not have a resistance training session planned, you can try going for a cardio session or at least a walk before you go home and go to bed.
Make Sure to Hit Your Protein Intake
If you know you’ll be eating a cheat meal later in the day, eat a protein-rich meal before you can get your hands on your favorite pizza. Protein not only is the most important macro for building muscle, but it can also make you feel fuller for a longer period which can help you in avoiding over eating when it comes time to consume your cheat meal, and you won’t risk as much of a setback.
Put in Extra Work After a Cheat Meal
The best way of getting over the feeling of regret of a cheat meal is to go harder in the gym the next day. You can incorporate something like a HIIT workout (high-intensity interval training) or go harder during your strength training and cardio session to burn the extra calories.
We recommend doing two cardio sessions for shedding the extra calories. The second should be a low-intensity steady-state session which is to be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Another way to maximize the use of your cheat meal is to time it so you are eating it before your workout. A cheat meal can be a good pre-workout meal, as it can fill your body with sodium and spike your blood sugar levels so you are getting a great muscle pump during that training session. You also will feel less guilty if you eat your junk food then put in some serious work right after.
Adjust Your Calories
Calories are the name of the game when it comes to your diet as a whole, not even just a cheat meal, but if you are aiming at losing or putting on weight then your caloric intake is one of the most important aspects. Apart from following a daily caloric goal, you should keep a note of your weekly (and monthly) calorie intake to make sure that you are on the right track for hitting your goals.
If you eat an additional 1,000 unplanned calories on a Sunday, your goal should be to deduct it from the next week’s sum. For example, if you accidentally overeat that amount of calories, then you should look to reduce reduce 333 calories each from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to stay on track with your progress.
All in all, eating something other than chicken and rice is good for you every now and then. Now, every meal should not be a burger and fries, nor should you binge eat when you are given the opportunity for a cheat meal, but eating a little junk food here and there can be good for not only the body, but also the mind. However, you want to keep in mind that it should be programmed into your diet plan, not just an accidental slip up where you consume way more than you are supposed to.
Once you follow all these steps, you’ll start to appreciate your diet and fit lifestyle more because you’ll know that falling for a single cheat meal will require you to put in a lot of work.