A cheat meal can be anything you love to eat, but can’t eat it on your lower calorie diet. In fact, some diets include a special “cheat day,” where you have the foods your forbidden to eat on during the other days. Your favorite cheat meal can be anything, but avoiding overly processed food is healthier. Making your cheat foods at home can insure you’ll avoid many of the bad fats, food additives and unhealthy contents.
How does a cheat day help?
If you’re constantly consuming lower calories and carbohydrates while dieting, your body can go into starvation mode. That means it slows its metabolism, which also burns fewer calories and makes weight loss more difficult. Cheat meals increase the levels leptin, the hormone that tells your body it has enough to eat. If you starve yourself continuously, this hormone drops and it slows the metabolism to help you conserve energy for important functions.
Don’t starve yourself before cheat day.
Some people like to eat light in the morning on cheat day so they have room for their favorite cheat meal and can enjoy every bite. Fasting a bit before your cheat meal can help. By eating breakfast later in the day as your midday meal, you’ll bank a few calories and won’t be famished for your cheat meal. It can save you a few calories.
Get a good workout before the cheat meal.
This simple trick can help to deplete your reserves of glycogen, which is the sugar your body stores and uses for energy. Once it’s depleted, the body’s first job is to fill the coffers with more ready energy before it starts storing up fat. The less fuel—glycogen— you have available, the better off you are and the less likely the cheat meal will end up on the back of your thighs. Have a shot of caffeine from coffee, tea or cola before the workout to boost the body’s metabolism.
Plan your cheat day in advance. Some people say they have a cheat day once a week, while others go bi-weekly. If you mark it on your calendar, you won’t be tempted to make every other day a cheat day.
Have your cheat menu ready for the day. Whether you’re cooking at home or dining out, be prepared ahead with your choice of cheat foods. It’s too tempting to order way too much on your cheat day if you don’t.
If you’re eating in a restaurant for your cheat meal, psychologically it’s better to eat at a table rather than at the bar where you can watch the television. The same is true when eating at home. Eat and later watch TV…you’ll eat less.
Eat healthier even if it’s a cheat meal. Avoid high fatty cheat meals and opt for more carbs and protein.