Cheat Meals Are the Best Part of My Week – Why It’s Okay to Pig Out
I love to pig out. On a lot of food. I wish I could do it more often and not gain weight simultaneously. Unfortunately, I can't have my cake, and eat it too. No pun intended.
As I'm sitting here eating my chicken and rice, I can't help but think of what I want for my cheat meal this weekend, and it's only Monday. I try to give myself one cheat meal per week. If you're dieting, cheat meals kind of allows your body to reset. And just totally gorge yourself in all the cheese and salt and sweets, whatever your preference. For me, it depends on the week. But mostly all of the above. Or chicken strips from the Tamarack. I digress...
When I first started my bodybuilding program, the diet I was on was super intimidating, mostly because I wasn't used to eating the food I was recommended to eat. For example, instead of a sandwich for lunch, I was advised to have chicken and rice, or tuna and salad, etc. with red meat and veggies for dinner, that kind of thing. My uncle liked to call it rabbit food. Basically rabbit food with a lot of protein thrown into the mix. Towards the end of the week, I didn't even want to say the word chicken. That's where the cheat meal comes in!
Believe it or not, cheat meals can actually help you stay on your diet. Although you may feel guilty if you cheat, Men's Fitness agrees it's a vicious cycle.
Pizza, ice cream, and cheeseburgers are all fair game. The reasoning behind this strategy is more than to give you a break from eating clean. A weekly splurge can help you stay on a healthy eating plan for the long term and boost your metabolism, among other benefits.
I totally put myself through guilt trips after my first couple cheat meals. "Oh my gosh, what did I just do? All that hard work and dieting for nothing! I don't want to eat a cheat meal again!" Then the cravings ensue and I couldn't wait for another cheat again. See how it can just be a huge mind f'er?
Little did I know, cheat meals not only taste good, but they come with tons of benefits.
The primary advantage of incorporating them into your nutrition regimen is that doing so will help boost your metabolism. After a long time on a strict diet, your body starts to adapt and progress can plateau. Consuming a high calorie meal once a week pushes your metabolism into overdrive by forcing it to break down a meal much larger than normal.
Another plus side that's one of my favorite benefits from cheat meals is the energy boost that follows the next day. It allows me to lift heavier, wake up happy and ready for the day!
An influx of carbs replenishes your body’s glycogen stores, giving you energy for the next week of workouts. Following a strict diet is demanding both mentally and physically, so being able to eat a few slices of pizza a week is a great way to take a break from your diet with minimal consequence.
Even though cheat meals give you free reign, there is a catch. After all, there's always a catch. It's easy to go overboard with cheat meals and get off track. Here's a few tips Taylor gave me, collab'ed other ones from Men's Fitness.
1) Schedule your cheat meal at the end of the week. It gives you something to look forward to and motivate you to continue to eat clean and healthy.
2) Keep the cheat to one meal, and one meal only. Your cheat meal shouldn't be a cheat day, as much as I may want it to be. You can really sacrifice results this way.
3) Try to eat cheats with a lot of carbs. This is more of a personal tip based on experience. I don't feel too bloated and the energy I have following the meal is higher than I have had with other foods. For example, eating pizza, spaghetti or a burger instead of wings or mozzarella sticks. Makes sense in hindsight.
It's important to not be so hard on yourself all the time if you're following a training program. TREAT YO'SELF!