By Praveen & Maheek Nair
A cheat meal or a cheat day can help replenish your glycogen stores by increasing the number of calories and carbohydrates you are consuming. This can provide you with the energy you need for a strenuous workout; but going overboard on your cheat day can, of course, also set you back a bit with your weight loss goals.
Throwing a cheat meal into the mix tricks your system into thinking food is plentiful and that it’s ok to burn through fat stores. Cheat meals can help to reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for increased energy and keep calories brining and fat torching mechanisms high.
No matter how grueling an athlete’s workouts are or how strict their training schedule, most bodybuilders will tell you that the most difficult part of getting stage-ready is staying disciplined with their diet. It’s notoriously tough to follow a contest prep diet, but sticking to a nutrition plan can make or break a competitor’s success.
Whether or not you plan on taking the stage, if your goal is to lose weight, any trainer will tell you that diet is well over half the battle. When that’s the case, it can feel like there’s no room for cheat meals or that you’re speeding up your progress by eating less. But you can and should enjoy cheat meals as part of a weight-loss diet.
If you hope to lose 1 pound a week and burn 2,000 calories per day, you’ll have to cut 500 calories per day. That means consuming no more than 1,500 calories per day.
A cheat meal consisting of a double cheeseburger with fries and a milkshake can set you back over 2,000 calories.
“Once you’ve added in other meals and snacks, it literally cancels out half your hard work in meeting your calorie and exercise goals all week.
How often should you have a cheat meal when losing weight?
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.
Why we need cheat meals?
Dieting means you need to create a calorie deficit by eating less than what you are burning in a day. But with the calorie deficit, your body must use stored fat as fuel to keep your energy up, which can ultimately help you lose more weight.
The cheat breaks boost your metabolism by convincing your body that the dieting is over.
Studies say that if you never stray from your diet, it might be one of the reasons that your weight loss might be stalling.
Cheat Meals & Weight Loss
Cheat meals help to lose weight in two ways: metabolic pathways and motivation. The hormone Leptin make you feel full, so when you diet for a long time, the leptin levels decrease and you become sensitive to it. The increased sensitivity makes you feel hungrier.
So, when you eat a cheat (happy) meal, insulin is released, which increases the leptin in your brain and makes you feel satisfied. Having regular cheat days might actually make you eat fewer calories than you expected because when your leptin levels increase you feel satisfied quickly. When your diet is too strict, you end up feeling deprived. You might feel screwed up and end up sabotaging your plan by eating more calories.
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. One way cheat meals can boost your metabolism is by increasing levels of leptins, the “anti-starvation” hormone responsible for sending hunger messages to the brain.
Throwing a cheat meal into the mix tricks your system into thinking food is plentiful and that it’s ok to burn through fat stores.
Cheat meals can help to reset hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation, replenish glycogen for increased energy and keep calories brining and fat torching mechanisms high.
Planning a Cheat Meal
- Planning is key for cheat meals. Preferably for a time when you’re most likely to be craving fatty foods, such as on a weekend or for a special occasion. This way you can fit it around your calorie intake that day and it’s great to have something to look forward to, giving you that extra motivation to do well during the week. This also allows you to choose a “cheat meal” that you’ll really enjoy.
- A cheat meal can also be great psychological relief. The feeling that you’re not totally restricted to eat certain foods.
- However, it’s important not to let your cheat meals turn into cheat day(s). Cheat meals can be useful for fulfilling any cravings you may have during your restricted dieting and sometimes help to boost metabolism. However, don’t cheat yourself by letting cheat meals get out of hand, as they can seriously undo any hard work very quickly.
- To maximize your results for cheat meals, try not to binge too much. Have what you want but don’t overeat as this can impact your week’s progress massively.
- Don’t weigh yourself for at least 2-3 days after cheat day. As long as you do everything right, you should still make progress after this period. Remember, for every gram of carb you consume, your body holds nearly 3 grams of water. Plan for extra water the day after your cheat meal.
An ideal diet is not about restriction but about making healthy choices. As long as you are following your diet 90% of the time, you can enjoy a cheat meal every week.