By Parker Cote, ISSA, CFT Men's Fitness
Most diets fail from being too extreme. By depriving your body of carbohydrates and fat for an extended period of time, you will experience intense cravings. If you give in and binge, you can feel guilty afterwards. Itís a vicious cycle. The solution? A weekly cheat meal thatís planned. Once a week, eat a meal of whatever youíre craving. Pizza, ice cream, and cheeseburgers are all fair game. The reasoning behind this strategy is more than to give you a break from eating clean. A weekly splurge can help you stay on a healthy eating plan for the long term and boost your metabolism, among other benefits.
Cheaters always win.
Weekly cheat meals provide more than just a break from the monotony of a strict diet; they come with a slew of benefits. The primary advantage of incorporating them into your nutrition regimen is that doing so will help boost your metabolism. After a long time on a strict diet, your body starts to adapt and progress can plateau. Consuming a high calorie meal once a week pushes your metabolism into overdrive by forcing it to break down a meal much larger than normal.
In addition to boosting your metabolism, a planned cheat meal can help you stay in shape consistently. Even if youíre following a strict diet for a number of weeks, or even months, you will eventually have to give in and eat some junk food. Eating well for six out of seven days per week is hard work, but a break each week allows for longevity. Also, because the cheat is scheduled, you can enjoy the food youíve been craving all week guilt-free, as opposed to feeling like youíre not following your diet.
Another great benefit of a cheat is that it provides energy for the following week of workouts. An influx of carbs replenishes your bodyís glycogen stores, giving you energy for the next week of workouts. Following a strict diet is demanding both mentally and physically, so being able to eat a few slices of pizza a week is a great way to take a break from your diet with minimal consequence.
Cheating the right way.
Before you go order an XL pizza and a pint of ice cream, there are a few guidelines you need to know. It is easy to go overboard with cheat meals, which can supersede the benefits.
Scheduling your cheat meal on a Sunday can help motivate you to stay on your diet during the week, knowing a reward is ahead. The end of the week is perfect because the splurge is a reward after a long week of workouts, and will help you replenish your body while killing cravings. When you wake up on Monday morning, youíre back to a clean diet.
You can have as much of whatever you are craving as you want, but keep the meal to one sitting. One of the pitfalls to avoid is having your cheat meal turn into a cheat day or even worse, a cheat weekend. This can sabotage results.
If possible, try having your cheat meal in the morning. This way, you will be able to use it as fuel throughout the day instead of going to bed on a (really) full stomach.