The Ultimate Guide On Figuring Out Cheat Meals
Updated April 23rd 2020; May 21st 2018
What you should do about cheat meals and are they healthy to do?
You are training hard, eating well but something is missing.
You want a cheat meal. Pizza, burgers, fries, ice cream, whatever your heart desires.
Fried chicken, chocolate, pancakes, popcorn, the list can go on and on.
But should you ruin all your hard work by having a cheat meal or two?
Will cheat meals set you back further?
You may have read about bodybuilders having cheat meals, indulging once a week, or once in a blue moon.
You see how big they are and wonder if there is any science behind their diet to achieve similar results.
So, in this article, we will go down several thought experiments to reveal to you what you might want to do if you decide on having a cheat meal.
Cheat meals and intermittent fasting
If you just started off intermittent fasting, you should not have any cheat meals for a while.
Once you defeated your own ego and conquered your desires/cravings for junk, you can then make a logical decision to have a cheat meal.
Why? I went through the same thing.
When I was in college and even now, I still go through periods of intermittent fasting.
But what is different is that I am apathetic towards junk food and cheat meals/drinks.
In fact, I would prefer to not stray away from my current eating routine.
Overall, the main point here is that you need to have control over your desires to cheat.
Because cheat meals are not the issue here; it is the fact that you cannot control yourself.
And that makes the difference between a successful diet and a failed one.
Cheat meals carnivore diet
Here is an awesome video on what I also believe about cheats meals on a carnivore diet...
Essentially, it ultimately depends on your main life goals and you should be honest with yourself.
As much as coaches and experts tell you to live a “balanced” life, that is one of the biggest lies to believe.
So, you have really two goals if you are on a carnivore diet and are thinking about cheat meals:
- Healing your body
Sadly, these two goals cannot benefit each other.
Because your body readily uses glucose and carbohydrates for quick-fuel.
This is the primary source of fuel for anything your body does; so, performance does suffer a bit if you lack these essential fuels.
But your body is smart and can find alternative pathways to create a different fuel source.
This is where the benefits of a carnivore diet can shine. But you need to be consistent with your carnivore lifestyle without any cheat meals.
Can you have both? At the moment, research and experience show that it is not possible.
And you should be realistic.
You should be aware that cheat meals do not help your carnivore diet lifestyle.
Conversely, a carnivore diet may benefit from a cheat meal or day, depending on the individual.
Again, this goes back to the level of self-control, sacrifice, and goals you have for yourself.
Cheat meals during a cut
Cheat meals during a cut is less strict than on a carnivore diet.
Usually, lifters have a cheat meal once a week. Bigger athletes can have a cheat day if they are taking in a lot of calories.
But again, you need to ask yourself the goal of the cheat meal.
For instance, if you are dieting down for a bodybuilding competition and are less than 2 weeks out from a show, it might not be the right time for a cheat meal.
You can have plenty of time after the show to eat whatever you want, literally.
But for now, stick to the gameplan.
In another example, if you have a loose plan and just want to lose, let’s say, 10lbs, having a structured cheat meal system might be beneficial to you.
The cheat meal can help you recover psychologically.
The cheat meal can help give you a small boost in energy.
The cheat meal can motivate you to continue striving towards your goal.
The cheat meal can help you improve your performance short term.
Cheat meal every 2 weeks
This type of thinking usually falls under the moderation lifestyle, which is a lie in my opinion.
Depending on your level of self-control, a cheat meal every 2 weeks can either boost you towards your goal or set your further back.
You do not need permission on what to do; you are an adult.
Learn to do an analysis of your decision and live with the results.
For the average person, I would say that you should not have a cheat meal every 2 weeks.
Instead, you should stick to your diet and continue to better yourself, defeating the habit to yearn for sugar and carbs.
Cheat meal examples
Cheat meals are typically foods high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates with very little protein.
Here is a list of cheat meals that you may also enjoy as well:
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Pancakes (with syrup of course)
Cheat meal every day
You can choose to have a cheat meal every day but you also need to be aware of the sacrifice that entails.
For example, you might hear that some personal trainers eat chocolate every day.
And you want to emulate that as well.
What you do know realize is that that compensate their eating habits by eating a little less during another time of day to include those chocolate pieces they will have.
To them, it is worth it. But that is them.
Again, you need to define your goals and structure an eating plan around that.
And chances are your goals will not support having a cheat meal every day.
Because you are unwilling to make the sacrifice to delay gratification.
This is one reason why I advocate straying away from cheat meals for some time…
This is a great summary of a high-level overview of what you should think about and strategize about a cheat meal:
If you are asking about when you can have cheat meals, you are asking the wrong question.
Are you disciplined enough to make excellent food selections every day without any thought of “cheating” on your eating habits?
Overall, “cheat meals” are okay in moderation but many people lack the self-control to make good eating decisions.
Only you can make changes in your life and it starts at the dinner table, one meal at a time.
There is a reason why professionals have cheat meals.
They push their bodies to an extreme limit.
Physically, they are training their body to maximize performance and strength.
And to even get to that point, these athletes are training long hours, for decades.
They are fueling their bodies with wholesome foods and allowing their bodies to utilize all the nutrients digested.
With that said, they put in the work first.
A lot of hard work before they actually enjoy any cheat meals.
What about the average Joe?
With all that said, this does not mean you cannot enjoy yourself.
There is a big difference between moderation and a lack of control.
A big feast with the dinner on Christmas? Sure, go ahead.
A BBQ on July 4th? Knock yourself out!
But are you monitoring your eating habits every other day?
Are you making a conscientious effort to eat good foods?
Taking a break here and there from your diet for special circumstances is a great way of enjoying life, time with your family, and comforting food.
Probably, more importantly, it helps keep you mentally sane.
Be wary of sugar and carb withdrawal
Old habits die hard.
One reason why cheat meals are not recommended is because of habit.
Many lifters reward themselves with cheat meals after “accomplishing” a workout or week.
Some just “feel like” eating something bad for them.
For others, it could be an emotional response, built from years and years of discipline.
There are many potential reasons why someone wants to pamper themselves with a cheat meal but one thing is certain – bad habits are tough to break.
They are tough to change.
So, in order to prevent the slippery slope effect of bad decision making, we need to prevent it in the first place.
And how do we do that?
By holding ourselves accountable to the food choices selected and our execution of the plan.
Dream of having a good looking figure but can not stop going to Starbucks five times a week?
Ran over 10 miles in the week and need to treat yourself to your favorite restaurant?
Easy to see what is wrong, but difficult to break some habits?
We all have differences in lifestyle and food perks.
However, no matter the circumstance, hard work is needed.
Dedication is needed.
Execution is needed.
Stay disciplined and reach for the stars.