If you are interested in losing weight, or have ever followed any diet plan, you are familiar with the concept of cheat meals. A cheat meal is simply a set time (sometimes every week, every couple of weeks, or every month), where you can eat anything you want. The idea behind cheat meals is to prevent diet burn-out. By allowing foods that are normally off-limits on a cheat day, in theory, it makes it easier to stick to your strict diet for the rest of the time.
Will a cheat meal prevent diet progress?
Since a cheat meal is literally the option to throw your diet out of the window for a time, many people wonder if a cheat meal can hinder your overall progress. According to many scientific studies, for most cases, the answer is no. For example, if for one meal a week you choose to eat dessert, that will not prevent your progress on the entire diet. You may find that you gain a pound or two that day, but in the grand scheme of progress, you will find that you continue to lose weight (or gain it in muscle, if that is your goal). However, if you take an entire day as a cheat on a regular basis, and make extremely unhealthy choices, it is possible that a regular cheat day could interfere with your goals.
How do cheat days work best?
Basically, a cheat meal can work however you want it to. As a general rule, you should stick to two guidelines. First, don’t go too crazy. Second, don’t have too many cheat meals or else you are no longer on your way to progress. When you have your cheat meals, you still want to consider your overall goals.
For example, rather than eating a dessert like pecan pie, you might choose to eat a small amount of frozen yogurt with a lot of fresh fruit. You still will feel like you have had a cheat meal, but you will not completely ruin your progress. As for how often to cheat, it can be as frequent as once a week, but if you notice that your overall progress is stalled, you may want to cut back to every two weeks or even once a month.
Should I use cheat meals?
Most people can benefit from the use of cheat meals in their diet. It is a great way to prevent the feelings that you are cheated from eating the foods you love most. However, for some people, cheat meals are not a good idea. Basically, it comes down to percentages. If you follow a diet of at least 80 percent healthy with 20 percent cheat foods, you will probably be fine.
However, if your diet is closer to 50 percent healthy and 50 percent cheat foods, then you should cut back on your cheating. Once you approach your goal, then you can increase the number of cheats. However, if you start seeing your progress stall, then it is back to controlling cheats closely once more.