The Truth About Cheat Meals
Cheat meals are a topic I’ve spent a lot of time talking about in the past because people are always asking me what I think about them, when they can have them and what’s the optimal way to use them? Sometimes I get the impression that people want to be told that they can eat the s*** they want and get the results at the same time, which I will NEVER say if it isn’t true. Rather than just try and explain how to use cheat meals to your benefit I want to give you a FULL breakdown on the pros and cons, so you can make a more informed decision yourself.
I’ll get to the calorie element of cheat meals in a moment, but there are other key things to consider when talking about cheat meals and the potential negatives. The first big negative with a lot of common cheat meals (meaning the type of food you choose) is the effect it can have on your gut. If you have a large pizza for instance or takeaway you’ll often find that hours later you’re suffering with excessive inflammation of the gut. This isn’t just a negative for that moment, it can potentially upset your ability to absorb nutrients for days to come which as you know can impair progress!!
Another big negative is the psychological factor which I see effect more and more people every year. There’s a lot of people who are unable to stay in control when they have a cheat meal and they go completely off the rails, binging for the next few hours after their cheat meal. The reality is this isn’t only very damaging to your physique and gut health, it is also very detrimental to your relationship with food if your mentality is like this. You’re going to find that having a cheat meal is going to have a very negative effect on your mind-set which is NOT what I want for you, as that can start off all sorts of emotional issues with food.
Finally, you’ve got the calorie control issues. When you consider a large pizza might have over 3,000 calories that could easily wipe out your deficit for the last 7 days in one go. Especially if you’re the type of person to lose control momentarily and eat everything available to you for that moment in time.
For every negative above there are also potential positives. The first obvious benefit of a cheat meal is that provided you’re rational about your choices and able to keep a level head, it gives you that mental break and something to look forward to with your loved ones. For instance, planning a nice meal out on a Saturday night with your partner might keep you pushing that bit harder all week as you’ll feel as though you’ve earned it.
Another key positive I find with cheat meals with many different clients is that once they’ve reached a certain point with their fat loss, having a higher calorie cheat meal can actually spur fat loss on further for the next few days. As you become leaner and leaner your thyroid function will gradually drop and your leptin levels can also potentially become a factor. Having that sharp influx in calories from your cheat meal can give your body the boost it needs, but it still has to be done in the right way so you’re NOT over eating.
If you’re looking flat a cheat meal can also help fill your muscles back out with glycogen, again when you REALLY need it.
I feel that a lot of people will justify a cheat meal for the above reasons given, when in fact they are not in the place (yet) where they really need one. For instance, if you’ve got your day to day diet right then you’re not going to see a drop in metabolism to the extent its a problem for at lest a few weeks. If you’re in this cycle from day 1 where every 5 days you feel the need to completely binge out you’re not going to progress very far because your overall energy balance isn’t going to be right.
On the other hand I like people to get some sort of normality when they can, so if you’re perfectly methodical and logical about things then having a cheat meal at the right time is absolutely fine and can in fact benefit you.