“Cheat meals” gives dieters the opportunity to take a break from strict eating.The gist of these cheats is to eat clean for the better part of your week, stay active and reward yourself by indulging in something you really want to eat.
While some dieters may not choose to cheat, some find it a vital part of their week. A weekly cheat meal has been proven to boost your metabolism and ward off any feelings of deprivation, improving not only your ability to lose weight but also the ability to stick to your diet plan too.
What Are Cheat Days and Meals?
Cheating within a diet plan involves giving yourself calculated, planned permission to temporarily break strict diet rules. The theory behind this reward-based diet strategy is that by allowing yourself brief periods of indulgence, you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet.
The foods you eat as cheat meals will also vary from person to person due to individual tastes, but they often consist of high-calorie foods that wouldn’t otherwise be permitted on a typical diet plan.
There is no specific guideline for when or how frequently your cheat meal or day should occur. Often people will include one cheat per week, but this can change depending on what the person’s health or weight loss goals are. In this way, the cheat strategy is adaptable and can be implemented alongside many different diet patterns.
1.It all has a lot to do with metabolism – There are two main hormones that we need to focus on here: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that regulates your appetite and controls satiety; it signals when you’re full. Your leptin production depends on your calorie intake; if you are in a calorie deficit or consume excess calories, your leptin will decrease and increase respectively. On the other hand, ghrelin is a peptide hormone that tells you when you’re hungry. When you are trying to lose weight and are following a low-calorie diet, your ghrelin levels can actually increase.
2.Cheat meals can regulate our hormones – When you’re on a weight loss diet, you should consume fewer calories than what your body needs to function normally (this is called your TEE – total energy expenditure). However, overtime your body will grow used to a low-calorie diet and adjust accordingly, which can lead to a plateau. A cheat meal high in calories and carbohydrates can actually assist jumpstarting your metabolism and regulating these hormones. This way, you encourage the body to keep burning these calories, instead of adjusting to this lower intake.
3.Cheat meals motivates us – What better incentive to stick to your healthy diet than knowing that you have a cheat meal waiting at the end of it? You should have a cheat meal one to two times per week. Eating, exercising and living a positive lifestyle 80% of the time, and indulging in not-so-clean treats 20% of the time. With an indulgent reward acting as the light at the end of the tunnel, people find that they are more motivated to remain healthy that 80 percent of the time. Plus, that meal will definitely taste yummier knowing that you’ve earned it!
4.Cheat meals give us a mental break – A cheat meal also provides a much-needed mental break. Constantly trying to resist your cravings can be exhausting. By indulging in a meal, you’re able to relax, stop thinking about calories, and enjoy your food.
How to Enjoy a Cheat Meal
Now you know the importance of a cheat meal. Here are some hacks on how to make that cheat meal count.
1.Remember, it’s a cheat meal, not a cheat day – One common mistake that people make is by treating themselves all day. Not only can this completely undo a week’s worth of hard work, but it can make it much more difficult to get back on track. Cheat meals should be about compromise. Most people tend to have an “all or nothing” mentality. Have you ever had a couple of slices of pizza and thought that adding some garlic bread on top wouldn’t matter? It actually does, especially when it’s time to resume your healthy diet.
So, enjoy that pizza, but opt out of the extra soft drink and garlic bread. This way, you can satisfy those cravings while still being responsible.
2.Choose quality food – Using the “best quality ingredients.” Try to find better alternatives to ultra-processed foods so that you can go all out with your cheat meal, while still staying as healthy as possible. For example, If you’re going to eat a cheeseburger as your cheat meal, choose a burger that is made from all natural, grass-fed, hormone free beef. If you’re going to have pizza, try making the dough from scratch to ensure that you know exactly what ingredients are going into the food you’re about to consume.
If you want to make cookies, make them with almond meal, green banana flour, coconut flour, or flaxseed meal versus bleached enriched wheat flour. Use honey or coconut sugar instead of refined white sugar.
3.It’s all about balance – Studies have shown that cheat meals high in carbohydrates are best, as they have a bigger effect on leptin production than those higher in fats. But, don’t forget to balance everything out with some protein and healthy fats. It can be hard to not feel guilty after a cheat meal. You may be scared of derailing and undoing all your hard work, but you shouldn’t. You worked hard to earn it, so enjoy it! There are always healthier substitutions and, so, when you indulge, you will be satisfying your cravings, yet you won’t feel the need to feel too guilty about it.
Cheat meal or cheat day strategy may be effective if you’re able to execute a well-planned diet and maintain overall reduced calorie intake.