After a long week of training hard and eating smart, you deserve to treat yourself! And a properly planned cheat meal is the way to go! They can be very helpful in speeding up your progress while leaving you feeling more in control and less restricted.
But before you B-line to the cookie jar, it’s important to know if done the wrong way, cheat meals could lead you into a tailspin out of control. But we’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks that can save you from back peddling into old habits.
Some benefits to adding a cheat meal to your weekly routine include:
1. Not Sacrificing your Sanity
Constantly limiting what you eat can easily leave you feeling unsatisfied and even resentful of your meal plan. Dieting depletes much of your stored energy, not to mention, reduces serotonin production. Both of which can leave you feeling groggy and unmotivated.
2. Avoiding Metabolic Damage
Metabolism is the total sum of energy that your body uses at any given time. And it only takes 72 hours for your body to start making changes to how much energy is used for its functions when too few calories are coming in. Using less energy = lowered metabolism. By incorporating properly timed cheat meals that increase your caloric intake, you can fool the body into thinking the calorie restriction is over, which leaves your metabolic rate functioning more optimally meaning you burn more fat!
So, you might be wondering, which foods do I cheat with and how often?
It’s a good rule of thumb to enjoy a few extra hundred calories from foods you love and haven’t been eating, all while keeping in mind that you can undo much of your progress if you’re not careful. One thing you should always avoid is any meal with very high amounts of both fats and carbs in the same meal.
In order to reduce the chance of causing more harm than good from your cheat meal, try having it earlier in the day, if possible. Also keep in mind that the leaner you are, the more often you should have a cheat meal. The reason for this is the less fat you have to lose, the harder your body will fight to keep it. Your body only recognizes fat as a survival mechanism. The more you have, the less your body will fight you on losing it, and the less frequently you will need to cheat. Think less than 20 lbs. to lose, one cheat meal per week is a good goal. More than that and you may want to push it back to once every two weeks.
So, enjoy your pasta meal! Or whatever you choose to cheat with. You deserve it! Just remember to keep up the good work with your willpower for the rest of the day. It is a cheat MEAL after all.
And if you’re ever in need of some more resources and advice, our staff at SIN Fitness are here to help! Together, we’ll make sure you look & feel your best.