While cheat meals usually do more harm than good, we still look for a good reason to have a cheat meal to keep us sane. Some people consider having a slice of carrot cake for dessert as a cheat meal, whereas some others would devour a whole pizza and double cheeseburger with a vanilla monster milkshake.
In other words, a cheat meal consists of higher macros or calories than what you normally have and it is THAT ONE MEAL where you can enjoy without nitpicking or having any restrictions.
However, if a cheat meal is done with the wrong mindset that you can eat anything in the world and not feel guilty, it can hinder your progress or even destroy all the effort you have put in. Here are a few tips on how to do a cheat meal right:
Measure your distance to goal
Not everyone can have the equal amount of cheat meals. An athlete is able to maintain his/her physique and performance with two cheat meals a week because of his/her high muscle mass and training intensity.
Adjust the frequency of your cheat meals according to your training intensity and needs of intake.
Plan your cheat meal ahead and stick to the plan. By knowing what you are going to have for your cheat meal, you will not mind cutting some extra calories on the meals before.
Sometimes a cheat meal can go on a slippery slope which turns your two slices of pizza into four, into eight AKA overeating. This can also be easily avoided by planning your cheat meals beforehand.
Set a Date
Go beast mode before your feast mode. Try to push yourself extra hard in the gym and reward yourself a cheat meal after that. Also, planning a cheat meal on your special occasion can help maintaining your social life.
Load Your Carb
Go for a higher carb intake instead of a higher fat intake in your cheat meal. Additional carbs can give you a lot of energy and a better mood by replenishing your glycogen stores. Having more carbs for your cheat meal is also known as refeeding. This can kick your leptin level back up so your brain thinks that you are fueled hence keeps your metabolic rate high.
Here are a few real purposes of a cheat meal you need to know:
It boosts your metabolism and energy
During the period of your low-calorie diet, your body will automatically adjust to decrease your metabolic rate. A cheat meal can help increase your metabolic rate by boosting your thyroid hormones. It also gives you more energy to push harder in your workout. You might find that you perform better than usual on a cheat day.
It helps maintain your social wellness
Sometimes it is plain agony to watch your friends feasting on steak and fries while having a chicken salad. It is worse when you have to turn down the invitations. This is when a cheat meal comes to good use. A drink or two can definitely curb your FOMO (fear of missing out) and maintain a healthy social life.
It serves as a mental break
It is mentally tough to be on a diet 7 days a week without cheating at all. A periodic cheat meal can serve as a mental relief or a mental break to restore your sanity which allows you to stay on track for a longer time.
A cheat meal can be beneficial mentally and physically if done right. You are supposed to treat yourself a little more so do not ever feel guilty for that. Even if you do, do not think that as a diet fail and simply give up. Instead, use it as a good reason to put yourself back on track the next day. So go on a have a little indulgence!