So, you want to cheat on your diet. If I had a nickel for every time I have been asked, “How do you get Abs like yours?” while eating a Double-Double burger, fries, and a vanilla shake, I’d have long settled into the most luxurious villa on Easy Street. The questions people ask about cheat meals are often fraught with confusion, and sometimes desperation.
First, for the purposes of this article, let me explain what a cheat meal is and the value it might have during your diet program. A cheat meal is when you consume a greater amount of calories, during that meal, than allowed while you’re following a calorie deficit program. In other words, when you reduce your total daily calorie needs combined with a formal exercise program, you will be at a calorie deficit. This deficit will lead to a reduction in body fat. A cheat meal can serve two purposes. It’s a reward for working hard all week long as well as something to look forward to every week; however, and more importantly, it will allow your metabolism to fluctuate and your energy to increase.
The problem that can occur with cheat meals is when they turn into cheat days! Cheat meals are to satisfy your cravings, not to gorge at some all-you-can-eat buffet. So you need to plan out your cheat meals as you plan out your diet.
Eat your cheat meals at the end of your day. This may sound counter intuitive, but making your cheat meal the last meal of the day reduces the risk of cheating afterwards. When people cheat in the morning or afternoon, it’s harder for them to stay on their scheduled meal plan because of elevated insulin levels, filling full and bloated, and may skip their next scheduled meal.
Every successful diet eventually reduces carbohydrates in order for your body to rely on fat as its fuel source. During this process, your muscle are drained of valuable glycogen. Eating cheat meals that are rich in carbohydrates will replenish your muscles’ glycogen levels and speed up your metabolism. It’s natural for your metabolism to slow down during dieting, but a good carbohydrate meal can kick it into a higher gear.
Failing to plan, is planning to fail. Remember, cheat meals are to add extra calories to your dieting program. Skipping your cheat meal could backfire on you, causing you to become ridiculously hungry and to go overboard when you do cheat. Remember that a cheat meal is still a tool in your dieting program bag.
Cheat meals can have a positive effect on your metabolism, energy, and even your sole, but for some people, cheat meals can do more harm than good. If you find that your cheat meal is moving towards a cheat day or you’re having cravings that are becoming unmanageable, it’s probably a good time to reassess your cheat meals. Sometimes increasing your calories from your regular dieting program can satisfy your cravings without self-sabotage from eating a Double-Double burger, fries, and a vanilla shake.
Most people on a diet are generally trying to lose body fat and get a little healthier so they need to form new habit. Taste is an acquired habit. If you crave certain foods all the time and keep giving into those cravings, that will just make the cravings even stronger. Avoid the foods that made you overweight and the craving will diminish over time.
I cannot stress enough that a cheat meal is to satisfy your taste buds while increasing your calories from your scheduled diet meals and not binging or gorging. Binging or gorging goes beyond a cheat meal. This is where a cheat meal moves into a cheat day and all your efforts can be derailed.
Okay, let’s say you do gorge or eat foods that caused you to gain weight during your cheat meal, do not get depressed and think you’re a failure. We all make mistakes, the idea is to get over it and get right back on your diet wagon. Try to remember and write down what lead up to going overboard on that cheat meal so you can reflect back and try not to let it happen again.
Remember why you’re dieting, to live a healthier lifestyle. The natural process of creating a healthier lifestyle gets pushed aside if you focus too much on your cheat meals. Cheat meals are just a tool build the shape you want.
In closing, the intention of your cheat meals are to aid your dieting process, and this is a process that you’ve decided to follow. Cheat meals become a problem when they start to turn into cheat days. A cheat meal should not last more than thirty or forty minutes in duration. No one said it would be easy and deserving has nothing to do with it. Keep to the rules and your cheat meals will be an added value to your dieting process.
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