Cheat meals, we've all had them. They make us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside in anticipation, and more than likely bloated, crap and somewhat anxious afterwards.
I used to reward myself in a big way - amid weeks of torturous training sessions & a super 'clean' diet I would have my weekly cheat meal religiously. Might be take-away on Friday nights washed down with a few beers! We’ve all done that right? I thought I deserved a treat because I’d trained hard and had been “good” during the week. Treats are for dogs, not humans.
My 'cheats' were not always just a meal. There were few times it was a total all-out binge. Its ok, I’ll start again tomorrow……
But here's the thing - Every time you have a cheat meal, or refuse to actually account for what you eat, you're leaving yourself open to the opportunity for over-consumption.
How can you be sure you aren't actually undoing all of your hard work during the week by eating that pizza or fish and chips and a bottle of wine?
The logic is though that weight loss is dictated by burning more calories than you consume - which is why you need to be eating consistently at a calorie deficit each day to ensure your body is actually tapping into your fat stores for energy & hence allowing you to actually drop weight.
Let's say, for arguments sake, you're eating at a deficit of 500 calories per day. That's a 3500 calorie deficit per week, which should be enough to lose around quarter a kilo of fat.
Throw in a cheat meal, or a cheat day to the equation.
Ever eaten a whole takeaway pizza? It contains roughly 2500 calories. Had a brownie and ice-cream for dessert? Easily another 1000! You've just eaten your WEEKLY deficit back in one meal (assuming this cheat meal is on top of your days’ worth of food) & eaten at MAINTENANCE for the week.
One meal and a weeks’ worth of hard work down the drain! Really annoying!
There is a better way to go about things. Keep an eye on your macros (protein, carbs and fats) and eat the foods you enjoy & satisfy the cravings you have WHEN you have them, but in moderation.
Eat your homemade pizza on a day you've allowed yourself more calories but in a CONTROLLED fashion. If your weight stagnates during your fat loss yet you refuse to rid your routine of your cheat meals, you have no way of knowing whether you need to lower your calories further, or by how many you might need to do so by.
The better approach is to consistently meet your daily macronutrient requirements whilst cycling your carbohydrate intake should you so choose and fitting any ‘treats’ into your numbers so long as you’re simultaneously satisfying your nutritional guidelines.
That way, you can have your cake & eat it too, without fuelling uncontrollable cravings. In short - if you want to get lean, get rid of the damn cheat meal!