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10 Tips For The Perfect Cheat Meal

cheat meal empty plate

Having a cheat meal or a cheat day is a regular part of many diet and fitness plans (this plan and this are just two examples). Cheating has become popular both for physical reasons and mental ones:

  1. Cheating helps you keep your metabolism running high while on a diet which helps you burn more calories.
  2. It allows you to eat your favorite foods without having to restrict yourself 24/7/365. This makes it easier to stick to your diet

Even bodybuilders and fitness models use cheat meals. This is simply something that works well.

However, having a cheat meal can also backfire if you don’t do it right. To help you do that, check out the following tips:

Cheat Meals Tips

1. Keep It To A Meal At First

Some people do cheat meals and other do a full cheat day once a week or so. Naturally, a cheat day will include more calories and room for error. You shouldn’t do a cheat day unless you’re already rather lean or that the program you’re using specifically calls for it. Often, a single meal can be quite enough to give you both the mental and physical benefits of cheating.

2. Choose Your Meal Time Carefully

The right time to have a cheat meal is usually right after an intense workout. At that time your body is best prepared to deal with all the carbs you will consume.

Cheat meals are also useful if your social life demands it. You don’t need to stop dieting if you have an event coming up. You can enjoy yourself with your friends and family, knowing that what you’re eating is actually part of your diet routine.

3. Don’t Eat Junk

Some people use cheating as an excuse to eat anything and everything. However, some foods should not be eaten, no matter what. Trans-fats, for instance, are simply bad for you as are chemicals-rich sodas and processed foods. These are things which are just not healthy.

You can eat un-dietary foods, for sure, but keep the real junk out of the menu. Whether you’re thin or fat, these are foods which can do a lot of harm and little good.

4. Plan Your Meal In Advance

One of the biggest dangers of cheating is that you’re liable to overeat. To avoid this you should plan your meal in advance. Know exactly what you’re eating, place it on the table in front of you. Don’t go for seconds. Make sure you know what you’re eating so you don’t find yourself with empty containers of food lying in front of you without you even remembering how they got there.

5. Control Your Eating

You don’t have a license to lose control over your food. You should eat without any distractions. Don’t watch TV during your cheat meal. Focus on your food and enjoy it. Don’t eat out of the box, but place everything on plates in front of you. Remember, this is about enjoyment and a little extra eating, not stuffing yourself silly.

6. Keep It To A 1,000 Calories Or Less

If you look at the nutritional values of certain foods in restaurants you may be shocked to discover how many calories even little things contain. Check out the nutritional values of mcdonalds dishes and you’ll see how much calories some of these things contain. You may be shocked. My point is that a lot of people tend to underestimate the amount of calories that they eat. When you’re eating a cheat meal, this can become an even bigger problem.

Keep your cheat meals to under 1,000 calories. This is quite enough to enjoy some of your favorite foods and it would keep you from going overboard.

7. Don’t Include Your “Addictions”

If you’re struggling with a certain food which you absolutely love, but know that is bad for you, do NOT include in your cheat meals. The reason is that some foods (and elements in them) can be addictive. They may have a hold on you which is more about how they actually taste. You can’t take chances with these foods. You need about 21 days to break free of them. This is why I wouldn’t eat them at all, even on your cheat days or meals.

8. Eat Slowly

Some people tend to go on starvation diets or very low calorie diet plans which leave them famished, both physically and mentally, so when they get to their cheat meal they gulp everything down very quickly.

This is not recommended and can be counterproductive. When you eat too fast you hardly enjoy the food that you’ve eaten. This defeats one of the purposes of cheating: giving yourself a break from dieting. You may also feel stuffed when you eat too quickly. So, eat slowly and enjoy every bite.

9. Include Protein In Your Meal

Cheat meals are mostly about the carbs, but protein is also important, especially if you want to add some muscle mass to your body. Include a protein portion with each meal from eggs, meat or fish.

10. Keep the Alcohol Down to a Minimum

Alcohol may seem like a great addition to a cheat day, but I wouldn’t overdo it. Cheating is about carbs, not alcohol. If you’re trying to lose body fat, alcohol is usually not a good idea. Alcohol makes you fat because it delays the processing of fat calories. It also has very little nutritional value, if any. This should be limited.

Follow the 10 tips above to make the most with cheat meals and cheat days. Here are some other nutrition resources which may prove useful:

1. Cheat meal rules which give you some more tips you can use.

2. 55 Nutrition Facts – Some more tips by me.

3. 3 Fat burning recipes – by Dave Ruel and Karine Losier.

Date published: June 6, 2012. Last modified: June 6, 2012

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