IHATE the term “cheat meal”! One of the main reasons that most dieticians agree with me is that they believe that cheating implies that you are doing something wrong.  I don’t like the term mostly because of how misleading it is.  From what I have found in the fitness industry, it seems as though most individuals believe that a cheat meal is being able to eat anything and everything they want. The biggest devastation that I find with individuals cheating on their diets is the psychological downward spiral of over indulgence and binge eating that occurs afterwards.  Unfortunately that wipes away all of the hard earned progress they had made for an entire week.  

Why are there cheat meals?  Some believe that a cheat meal will help spike their metabolism.  Our bodies adjust to what we do to them.  When we eat less over a prolonged period, our bodies may respond by plateauing, so eating a single meal once a week with additional caloric value will SUPPOSEDLY keep our body’s metabolism from decreasing.  There may be some truth to this… but it’s not the complete story.  
The main reason that I have found people wanting to take part in a cheat meal is because they think it will keep them from feeling deprived of foods they enjoy (pizza, ice cream, etc.) We do have to make some sacrifices to lose weight, but does that mean we need to give up everything we enjoy?  I don’t think so!

I wish I could find a way to engrave this into every human being’s mind- when it comes to weight loss the reality is calories in vs. calories out.  You can still eat the foods you like in moderation.  There are 2 ways to incorporate your favorite “junk foods” into your diet: Fit them into your caloric budget, or find a “healthified” version/ substitution. 

When personalizing your diet there are a few things to take into account before you adding in those treats:

1. Figure out how many calories you need (I talked about this in last week’s post)

2. Make sure 45-65% of your caloric value comes from carbohydrates

3. Make sure 20-35% of your caloric value comes from protein

4. Make sure 10-35% of your caloric value comes from fat(These numbers are from the NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist Handbook)

5.  Remember that nutrient dense foods are going to leave you more satisfied than energy dense foods

So do I believe in cheat meals? No!  Cheat meals only cheat your out of success.  Eat what you want within in your caloric range- but make sure you are getting what you need first!