What are cheat days or meals?

Can Cheat meal ideas work?

Cheat days are days when you have cheat meals during your dieting routine. On these days, you decide to have cheat meals throughout the day which is binging actually.

Being straightforward Cheat meals are meals that cheat.  The meals with indulgent foods for which we crave when dieting for weight loss or muscle gain.

Cheat meals are not part of our plans.  When we give in to our cravings for a particular food, it becomes a cheat meal. These are usually part of the food that we used to have before becoming health conscious.  When you break strict diet plans for these foods, these become cheat meals. 

We crave these foods regularly and often.  As we leave those days behind, the craving keeps decreasing.  But we have to maintain discipline initially till we get used to our new lifestyle.

Will one cheat meal ruin my diet?

Have a heart.  Cheat meals can be useful if you do not go berserk.  Stuffing food on a Sunday as if tormented with hunger throughout the week is not the right idea for a cheat meal.

If you can behave, typical cheat meals can increase your metabolism, reduce your cravings for food and motivate you to diet more.  It is proven scientifically; a cheat meal stops the metabolism from going down.

Is it better to have a cheat meal or cheat day?

But cheat days can prove to be a deterrent towards your weight loss goal if you cannot control yourself, so it is better to have a cheat meal only. At least the damage is less. So the Cheat meal is ok if

  • Planned as a part of your diet.
  • It is a fixed meal and a portion.
  • The meal size is either staying the same or decreasing every weak or fortnight
  • It is only a larger portion of what you are regularly having<
  • It is to break the monotony of healthy meals every day.
  • It motivates you towards your more nutritional goal.

Here are some cheat meal ideas which, if followed, will make a healthier you.

1. How to stop food cravings?

I have mentioned in my earlier articles, eat more proteins. You will feel fuller, and the cravings will be less.

Try to eat slowly, atleast.  According to Ayurveda, one should spend at least 30 minutes eating any meal. Chew every morsel 32 times before you gulp.  If you eat slowly, you will eat less.

When eating something that you like a lot, usually you will notice yourself eating very fast, almost gorging on the dish.  You instead do not feel the taste at all by doing so.  Try to eat slowly and relish it more.   You will eat less.

2. How to get over a weightloss plateau?

A planned cheat meal or a cheat day can sometimes shock your body into breaking through the plateau and going back to weight loss mode. It can also give you a mental break from being on a diet, so be careful with what you eat.

Weight loss plateaus are frustrating, but they are part of the game. You can take charge by being patient and persistent and trying a few new strategies like

  • Change your exercise routine.
  • Time your workouts to under an hour.
  • Revisit your diet.

3. What should I eat for a cheat meal?

Home Cooked or Restaurant

I do not want to admit it, but yes homemade is always better.  You will notice that cheat meals are more for enjoyment or partying with friends and colleagues.  It can happen only when there is no cooking involved or after-party dishes to be cleaned.  That party preparation and cleaning itself takes away all the charm of a cheat meal. 

But the truth is that homemade food is always cleaner, healthier, and less processed than restaurant food.  Inexpensive, too, if not time-saving.

So try to stick to home-cooked food as far as possible.

4. Calorie Deficit Diet Plan

There can be various types of cheat meals. 

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  • One that you are not aware of.  Like the office parties that can happen on any day.  The only rule here is once a week if you are sticking to it.  Here sometimes, you are not even aware of the menu till served.  Avoid it, as it results in overindulgence and lethargy.
  • Timing of cheat meals.  Sometimes the regular dinner time is at 7 pm, but on a cheat day, it becomes 10 pm. It is an absolute no. Late dinner itself has many more complications.  Your body is not even ready for the next morning workout as you sleep late and eventually missed at times.
  • If you eat late, your body has to work the whole night to digest food, so you wake up tired.
  • Planned cheat meals – These are good girl cheat meals where you reward yourself once a week for being obedient to yourself throughout the week.  The food is pre-planned.  So you are aware of what you are going to have, even if it is double the calories.  But by design.

5. What is the best cheat meal?

If you are on a calorie deficit plan, stick to planned cheat meals only to know what you are doing and the consequences.  It should be within your weekly calorie deficit goal, at least if you are doing it for weight reduction.

6. How many cheat meals a week?

I do not suggest more than once a week, for whatever reasons.  Still, it varies from case to case.

It also depends on why you are on a diet plan.

For bodybuilding? For muscle growth?   It can lead to an increase in fat or carbs, so try to avoid more than once.  
While bulking? Raise Leptin? Boosting Metabolism?   It might be helpful in these cases, so yes, go ahead cheat on a weekday too.
Lose weight? Intermittent fasting?   Have some patience.  Once a week is enough to keep your cravings in control.

7. How many calories should a meal be?

Some people will have less breakfast and lunch as they will have a cheat meal in the evening.  The reason is, they want to stay in a calorie deficit for the day.  You need not do that.

Just stay within the calorie deficit target of the week.  This rule is only for the day on which you are having a cheat meal. For other days, please stay within your daily calorie deficit target.

So the best option is, make a cheat meal also a part of your weekly meal plan.  You will not go wrong then.

8. Working out a meal plan

Know the most significant necessity of a cheat meal?

With only diet meals, you become so boring you are not even invited to the office parties.  Even if you are invited, you feel so out of place there.

My advice is always in favor of a weekly cheat meal.  You can also have a couple of drinks (no more) of your favorite liquor with your meals.  And don’t get carried away after two. 

That is why I have mentioned this – Working out a meal plan.  If you have it in your mind beforehand, you will not spoil your weekly calorie goals. Do not even ask me about smoking.

For some, a cheat meal is a great motivator throughout the week, and they look forward to it.

Conclusion

So to summarise, Cheat meals are a product of your cravings.  If a cheat meal puts you in regret mode, then think of avoiding or stopping it.  However, you can continue if these are planned, help you in weight loss efforts and you can decrease your cravings over time.