The infamous ‘Cheat Day.’ A day where all diets are off and we can eat however much of whatever we want, right? Well, that’s how I used to look at it. I would look forward to my 'Cheat Day' the whole week and then when it finally came I’d eat donuts for breakfast, tons of pasta for lunch, a whole pizza, and then some ice cream for dinner. Instead of “cheating”, it became “splurging”. In many ways, I was ruining everything that I had worked so hard for that week. We must recognize the difference between occasionally having food we wouldn't normally eat and just completely over eating. If we view these “cheat meals” in the right perspective, we end up having more control instead of it having more control over us.
Our 'cheat meals' must be goal oriented. What we eat will directly correlate to the results we get. Are you trying to lose fat or gain muscle? Are you trying to achieve both? What body type are you? The answers to these questions will have a huge influence on what and when we need to be eating. No matter what your goals are, you have to have some room every once in a while to have some fun and rest from all the hard work you have put in.
There is a huge physical benefit to having a cheat meal every once in a while as well, especially when you’re not wanting to plateau with your weight loss. When we eat for weight loss our body becomes accustomed to the negative energy balance and our metabolism can start to slow so that we can survive. So, we must have a day/meal where we can eat higher calories than we would normally so that our body can have that calorie variance. By having this calorie variance, we can make sure that all of the metabolic processes in our body don’t plateau or slow down. A 'cheat meal' is perfect for this because first, it will keep our body on its toes and our metabolism high; and second, it is something that we can look forward to so that we don’t get burned out on what we are trying to accomplish. If we use the cheat meal strategically and make sure that we exercise on the days that we have it then we can eat our cake and have it too in some ways, as long as it’s a delicious chocolate quinoa cake.
I’m not talking about extreme diets that people try to do and then splurge later on. I’m talking about a lifestyle of balance that is sustainable. We must make sure that we are getting all of the essential nutrients that our bodies need. One of the biggest problems with having a cheap meal nowadays is that people try to go for foods that have zero nutrients. The problem with this is that our bodies still need all of the macro and micronutrients daily to thrive. So, the next time you have your cheat meal try having a healthier alternative to those cookies and that ice cream you love! Make the effort to fit as many micronutrients into your macronutrients and make the 'cheat meal' worth your while.