The Truth About Cheat Meals and Eating Out: What You Need to Know
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
Are you tired of strict diets and counting calories, but still want to shed those extra pounds? Enter the concept of the cheat meal – a strategic deviation from your meal plan that can actually help you lose weight and stay on track. Before you dismiss this idea as too good to be true, let’s dive into the meaning of cheat meals, science behind cheat meals and how you can indulge in them without sabotaging your weight loss progress. Get ready to learn how to cheat your way to a healthier, happier you!
What is a Cheat Meal?
A cheat meal is a meal that goes beyond your daily caloric intake and macronutrient goals. It’s usually high in calories, fat, and sugar and can undo the progress you’ve made in your weight loss journey.
While cheat meals can be tempting, it’s important to remember that they can hinder your weight loss progress and lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. However, if you plan ahead and make informed decisions, it’s okay to indulge in a cheat meal occasionally.
How can you add a Cheat Meal to your diet?
Incorporating cheat meals can help you stay motivated and make your diet more sustainable, as long as you approach them with a smart and mindful mindset.
Here are a few tips on how to incorporate cheat meals into your diet in a smart and successful way:
- Plan ahead: Decide when and how often you want to have a cheat meal. It’s important to have a plan so that you don’t indulge impulsively or too frequently.
- Be mindful of portion sizes: While it’s okay to indulge, don’t go overboard with the portion sizes. Stick to reasonable portions so that you don’t consume too many calories in one sitting.
- Choose your cheat meal wisely: Go for foods that you genuinely enjoy and that will satisfy your cravings. Choose foods that are high in calories, but also offer some nutritional value.
- Don’t feel guilty: Remember that a cheat meal is meant to be a treat, not a punishment. Don’t feel guilty for indulging and try to avoid the mindset of “ruining” your diet.
- Get back on track: After your cheat meal, get back on track with your healthy eating habits. Don’t let one indulgent meal derail your progress.
It’s important to note that cheat meals should not be a regular occurrence. It’s recommended to limit cheat meals to once a week or every two weeks. This will help you maintain your progress and prevent undoing your hard work.
Cheat Meal vs. Refeed Day
There is a difference between a cheat meal and a refeed day. A refeed day is a planned day where you increase your caloric intake to maintenance levels to help boost your metabolism and replenish glycogen stores. A cheat meal, on the other hand, is an unplanned indulgence that can set you back in your weight loss progress.
Cheat Meal Benefits
It’s important to note that the benefits of cheat meals only apply when done in moderation. Over-indulging or having cheat meals too frequently can hinder your progress and lead to unhealthy habits. Therefore, it’s important to approach cheat meals with a smart and mindful mindset.
But if done properly, cheat meals have some desirable benefits:
- Boost metabolism: When you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, your body can adapt by slowing down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. By incorporating a cheat meal into your diet, you can actually give your metabolism a boost. A cheat meal can provide a surge of calories and nutrients, which can help rev up your metabolism and increase your fat-burning potential.
- Provide a mental break: Sticking to a strict diet can be mentally exhausting and even lead to burnout. Having a cheat meal can provide a much-needed break from the rigors of dieting. It can give you something to look forward to and make your diet feel more sustainable in the long run. The mental break can also help you avoid binge-eating or over-indulging due to deprivation.
- Prevent plateau: Over time, your body can adapt to a lower caloric intake and cause weight loss to plateau. A cheat meal can prevent this by introducing a sudden spike in calories and nutrients, causing your body to work harder to process the food. This can prevent your metabolism from slowing down and keep your weight loss progress moving forward.
Tips for Managing Cheat Meals and Eating Out
Cheat meals are often associated with eating out, which can make it even more difficult to stick to your diet. A study published in BMJ found that the average person consumes around 1400 calories in India and 1300 calories globally at restaurants, which is almost 50 percent of the total calories consumed when on a calorie deficit. Additionally, this calorie count doesn’t include appetizers, sweets, and alcohol. Eating out can also make it harder to control portion sizes and the quality of ingredients used in your meals.
While cheat meals can be tempting, there are ways to manage them without undoing your progress. Here are some tips:
If you know you’re going out to eat, plan your meal in advance and make sure it fits within your daily calorie and macro goals. This means checking the menu in advance and selecting healthier options, and deciding on portion sizes. Planning ahead can help you make informed decisions and avoid impulsive choices that can derail your progress.
When eating out, look for healthier meal options on the menu, such as grilled or baked dishes, and avoid deep-fried and creamy dishes. You can also ask the server to make substitutions or adjustments to your meal, such as swapping out fries for a salad or asking for sauce on the side. Choosing wisely can help you enjoy a delicious meal without consuming excess calories.
Restaurants often serve larger portions than necessary, so ask for a smaller portion size or share a dish with a friend to control how much you’re eating. You can also ask for a to-go box to take home leftovers, which can save you money and provide you with a healthy meal for later.
When you’re eating out, be mindful of your food choices and how much you’re eating. Eat slowly and savor each bite, and stop eating when you’re full. Don’t let guilt or shame dictate your eating habits, and remember that it’s okay to indulge in a cheat meal once in a while.
Don’t beat yourself up
If you do indulge in a cheat meal, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s important to enjoy life and food, and one meal won’t ruin your progress. Get back on track with your meal plan the next day and move on.
One day of eating, even a cheat meal, will not ruin your diet. However, it’s important to get back on track with your meal plan the next day and not let one indulgence spiral out of control.
Healthy Cheat Meals
Cheat meals don’t have to be unhealthy, and there are plenty of options that can satisfy your cravings while still providing nutritional value. Some healthy cheat meal options include:
Vegetarian Cheat Meal Ideas:
- Chana masala with brown rice or whole wheat naan
- Palak paneer with brown rice or whole wheat naan
- Mixed vegetable curry with brown rice
- Masoor dal with brown rice or whole wheat roti
- Aloo gobi with roti or whole wheat naan
- Pasta with Cream Sauce
- Thin Crust Pizza with Veg Toppings
Non-vegetarian Cheat Meal Ideas:
- Tandoori chicken with mixed vegetable salad
- Chicken tikka masala with brown rice or whole wheat naan
- Grilled fish with roasted vegetables or mixed salad
- Egg curry with brown rice or whole wheat roti
- Lamb kebab with mixed salad or roasted vegetables
- Boneless Chicken Biryani
Final Words on Cheat Meals
Incorporating cheat meals into your diet can be a great way to stay motivated and make your diet more sustainable in the long run. When done in moderation, cheat meals can provide benefits such as boosting metabolism, providing a mental break from dieting, and preventing plateaus. However, it’s important to approach cheat meals with a smart and mindful mindset, by planning ahead, being mindful of portion sizes, choosing foods that offer some nutritional value, and avoiding guilt. Remember, a cheat meal is meant to be a treat, not a punishment. So go ahead, indulge in your favorite foods, and get back on track with your healthy eating habits afterwards. With a balanced approach, you can cheat your way to a healthier and happier you!
Q: What is the meaning of cheat meal, and is it okay to have one?
A: A cheat meal is a meal that deviates from your diet and is usually high in calories, fat, and sugar. While it’s okay to indulge in a cheat meal once in a while, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and frequency to avoid undoing your progress.
Q: How often can I have a cheat meal?
A: The frequency of cheat meals depends on your individual goals and preferences. Some people have a cheat meal once a week, while others have one every two weeks or once a month. It’s important to find a balance that works for you and to be mindful of portion sizes and food choices.
Q: Can one day of eating ruin my diet?
A: One day of eating can’t ruin your diet, but consistent unhealthy eating habits can hinder your progress. It’s important to enjoy life and food, and to have a healthy balance of nutritious meals and occasional indulgences.
Q: What are the benefits of a cheat meal?
A: A cheat meal can provide mental and physical benefits, such as increasing metabolism, replenishing glycogen stores, and improving mood and motivation. However, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and frequency to avoid undoing your progress.
Q: What is the best cheat meal for bodybuilders?
A: The best cheat meal for bodybuilders is one that provides nutritional value and satisfies cravings without compromising progress. Some healthy cheat meal options for bodybuilders include grilled chicken or fish with roasted vegetables, sweet potato fries, or whole wheat pizza with vegetables and lean protein.
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