Eating well consistently is tough. Especially for the long term. A lot of people can “diet” for a month or two straight, but what typically happens is that they will deprive themselves so much that they binge. These extremes are not only impossible to maintain but aren’t good for your body. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in great shape for a lifetime than to have paper thin skin one moment and be bloated and 15 lbs. overweight the next. A great way to achieve balance and consistency in your diet is having a strategically placed cheat meal, once a week. There seems to be mixed feelings about cheat meals among fitness professionals (some swear by them, others say they aren’t necessary), but I have to say it is one of the most important and effective parts of my diet.
The reasoning behind a weekly cheat meal is that it will not only give you a much needed break from a strict diet, but it will boost your metabolism. When you are eating clean for an extended period of time, your body becomes more efficient and you will burn less calories. The cheat meal is a great way to mix it up, and the influx of more carbohydrates, fat, and protein than your body is used to consuming in one sitting will kickstart your metabolism.
For another in depth article on cheat meals, check out this one I wrote for Men’s Journal, here.
Here are a few guidelines to make sure you cheat on your diet the right way.
The Dos and Don’ts of Cheat Meals
Do include a cheat meal in your diet every week
Do eat whatever you are craving. And not the diet version, this isn’t the time to count calories.
Do limit your cheat meal to only once per week
Do schedule your cheat meal on a Sunday. Of course, you can choose any day to enjoy your cheat meal, but Sunday works so well because it gives you something to look forward to during the week (thus, providing added incentive to stick to your diet), and also the psychological benefit of starting fresh on Monday with a clean diet after you’ve satisfied your junk food cravings.
Don’t go overboard and let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day
Don’t cheat more than once a week, it will dilute the benefits
Don’t have your cheat meal directly before bed. Sugars consumed before several hours of inactivity are likely to be stored as energy (read bodyfat). Try to cheat earlier in the day.
Do you include cheat meals in your diet? Comment below and let me know if it worked!
Thanks for reading,
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