“Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself” says Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is famous for his athletic looks and insanely good diet. Even though looking at him you can’t tell, but he loves treating himself with pancakes and chocolate chip cookies once in a while. He gets away with it because he does it in a smart way. Eating an occasional cheat meal won’t hurt you if you do it right and create a calorie buffer for yourself.
fitnesswellness will explain to you how you can eat your favorite food without doing any damage to your health and waistline while staying fit and healthy.
We applaud those who are able to follow a healthy diet 24/7. But for most people, it’s a real challenge and they often end up indulging in eating unhealthy foods, which they later regret. This can really take a toll on one’s physical and mental health.
A cheat meal is a meal that you love and would eat at any time on any given day if you could, but you don’t because it’s high in calories or maybe has a lot of sugar or is generally not very healthy. This “forbidden fruit” is different for everyone. It can be a burger, ice cream, a stack of pancakes (which is the favorite cheat meal of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) or even a cocktail.
You may be thinking that eating unhealthy food when you are dieting is a contradiction and just doesn’t make any sense… Let us explain. Our bodies produce 2 “hunger hormones” — leptin and ghrelin. Leptin decreases your appetite and ghrelin increases it. One study showed that when you have been undereating for some time (i.e. dieting), your leptin levels decrease, but if you overeat, they will go back to normal.
This means that when you eat a cheat meal, let’s say, once a week, it will help normalize your hormones. It will also give a signal to your body to burn more calories, because you are not starving, and it will help you avoid the weight loss plateau.
How to make it work even better?
If you thought that you can just eat whatever you want and however you want, it’s not quite true. There are still several rules that you need to follow to make the best out of a cheat meal.
Set a day
First, put a cheat meal in your schedule. Set a day when you want to have it and look forward to it. It is worth mentioning that it is a cheat meal, not a cheat day! Eating unhealthy foods throughout the whole day can throw off the hard work of the previous 6 days completely. You can also vary the days, if you have a party or a family dinner coming, it’s better to adjust your cheat meal to it.
Choose your food wisely
Although studies have proven that foods rich in carbs are better than those rich in fats, it’s still important to balance it out with protein and healthy fats. Choose high-quality products for your cheat meals. If you’re having a burger, get it on a whole wheat bun with high-quality meat.
If it’s a pizza, try to make the dough from scratch, so that you know what goes in your food. If you don’t want to cook, then just make sure that your food has a short ingredient list. You can make the best out of enjoying the “bad” calories and satisfying your craving.
Create a calorie buffer
To minimize the negative effect that a cheat meal can have on your diet, you can fast beforehand. If you cheat around dinner time, move your first meal of the day to noon. This will create a smaller eating window, which can save you calories and will put your body in a fat-burning state.
Another good way to minimize the damage is to go into beast mode before indulging in your cheat meal. By doing that, your body will start burning glycogen — sugar that is used for energy. And when you start eating, the food will fill up the glycogen stores first, and after it will be stored as fat. This way you’ll have more room for your favorite food before it ends up on your belly or thighs.