Cheat meals 101: do they ruin your gains?

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Cheat meals who doesn't love them..

Cheat meals who doesn’t  love them right. The one time in the week you can enjoy your favorite meal and let lose a bit, but does that one meal ruin all your progress of the last week? That’s what I want to touch on in this article, because I hate seeing people destroy their progress in 1 day. Or could a cheat meal be beniftial ? keep reading to find out!

Are cheat meals killing your gains

That cheat meals can ruin gains is ofcourse only when were trying to lose weight. In order to find out if your cheat meal is ruining your gains you need to know this first.

The basics of losing weight are simple, calories in vs calories out. You need to figuere out what your total progress in calories is on a weekly basis. So let’s dive in. Your maintenance calories are 2500 calories then in order to lose weight you need to be eating 2100 calories. The difference is 400 calories a day and in a week the difference is 2800 calories. Knowing this number you can calculate if your cheat meal is going to set you back.

Now, it’s the day of your cheat meal, this means your eating eating your cheat meal but also your normal diet. Your cheat meal is an large domino pizza which contains 2200 calories (sound familliar). 2200 calories is already more then the amount to lose weight (2100 calories). This means that if you’re just eating the one cheat meal then you won’t screw up your progress, because those extra 100 calories isn’t going to any damage. The problem is that you’re also eating your normal daily diet on top of that pizza. 

And now that 2200 calories is on top of your normal diet. Do you Remember what your progress was in the last week…2800 calories. With that pizza you have almost eaten the amount you have burned last week. and ruined your progress. 


Difference between cheat meal and cheat days

The problem with cheat meals is that it usually doesn’t stop with just that large pizza, because after that delicious pizza you might think well, a tub of ice cream doesn’t hurt because i’ve stuck to my diet really well last week. As discussed in the previous paragraph you need to know how many calories you have burned total in a week (Amount under maintenance times 7). otherwise your eating more calories in 1 day then you have burned in a week. 

Burning let’s say 2800 calories in a week and then having a cheat day of 5000 calories all of your prgress is lost and weight gain can occur.

Keep in mind that when having an cheat meal or cheat day sodium intake is probably through the roof. This means that the next day the scale can tell you that you’ve gained weight, but in reality you’re holding on to water. You should not stress about this, you can easily get rid of the water weight by simple drinking lots of water and doing some extra cardio.

Benefits of Cheat day/Refeed day when dieting

Cheat day or also called refeed days do have some benefits. Note: A cheat meal is only allowd when you have been dieting for a long time and are already in decent shape, but not if you have 100 pounds to lose and just getting started 🙂

Cheat meals can regulate your hormones

When you’re on a weight loss diet, you should consume fewer calories than what your body needs to function normally (this is called your TEE – total energy expenditure).

However, overtime your body will grow used to a low-calorie diet and adjust accordingly, which can lead to a plateau.

A cheat meal high in calories and carbohydrates can actually assist jumpstarting your metabolism and regulating these hormones. This way, you encourage the body to keep burning these calories, instead of adjusting to this lower intake

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Cheat meals motivate us

What better incentive to stick to your healthy diet than knowing that you have a cheat meal waiting at the end of it?

Certified Holistic Health Coach and Aaptiv trainer, Kelly Chase believes that “You should have a cheat meal one to two times per week.” She is an advocate for the 80/20 lifestyle, which is, “eating, exercising and living a positive lifestyle 80% of the time, and indulging in not-so-clean treats 20% of the time.”

With an indulgent reward acting as the light at the end of the tunnel, people find that they are more motivated to remain healthy that 80 percent of the time. Plus, that meal will definitely taste yummier knowing that you’ve earned it!

It’s all about balance.

Studies have shown that cheat meals high in carbohydrates are best, as they have a bigger effect on leptin production than those higher in fats. But, don’t forget to balance everything out with some protein and healthy fats.

It can be hard to not feel guilty after a cheat meal. You may be scared of derailing and undoing all your hard work, but you shouldn’t. You worked hard to earn it, so enjoy it!

And, if you stick to Chase’s advice, you’re setting yourself up for success. As she explains, “There are always healthier substitutions and, so, when you indulge, you will be satisfying your cravings, yet [you] won’t feel the need to feel too guilty about it.”


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Vincent Sorel

Vincent Sorel

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