Cheat meals have become very popular over the years. As more and more people are incorporating fitness into their lifestyle, the need for a reward after being consistent with your diet has taken off. To some dieting can be a breeze and they can do it effortlessly without shifting into bad eating habits. But for the majority of us, the thought of just dieting makes us think of all the other foods we rather eat instead of a salad, well-balanced meal or a healthy snack. Cheat meals give people something to look forward to typically at the end of each week. Cheat meals can in fact set you back but there are several ways to enjoy a cheat meal so that you don’t ruin the progress you’ve made thus far.
Plan Out Your Cheat Meal: If you know you’re going out to a restaurant on a certain day, spend some time looking at the menu and see what will satisfy your cravings. MyFitnessPal is a great app that I’ve used for years to track my calories as well as my macros. I honestly can say that I’ve been able to find any food or meal on the app to get a rough estimate of how many calories I’ll be consuming. Even though the calories are estimates and not 100% accurate, you still have a based line of how many calories you can consume prior to your cheat meal so that you don’t go too over your caloric intake for the day. This is great for people who can’t afford to go over their caloric intake.
Eat Your Calories: There are many drinks that contains calories primarily carbohydrates in the form of sugar. I honestly don’t believe these drinks are a necessity, there are more of a preference. If you can fit them while dieting great. But eliminating them completely or substituting them calories free drinks, will save you calories that you can use later for your cheat meal. For coffee drinkers look into having your coffee black with artificial sweetener such as splenda or stevia. Soda drinkers, look into diet zero calorie options or even flavored soda water. I use flavored soda water all the time when I’m out consuming alcohol. If you enjoy certain juices, look into a more natural options that doesn’t contain added sugars. These options will still contain calories but not as much as the one with added sugar. Refer to the nutritional label to see if a product has any added ingredients.
Prioritize Your Protein: When we think of cheating on our diets, we usually think of pizza, ice cream, donuts, cookies, etc. which are all high in carbohydrates and fat. Not to say they don’t contain any protein but amount is very little compare to carbohydrates and fats. A strategy I’ve used in the past was to consume 2-3 meals that were high in protein but were low in carb and fat. This typically was a lean protein source such chicken breast, ground beef or ground turkey with a serving or two of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus. This way I get my protein in for the day and leave most of my carbs and fats to enjoy at night for my cheat meal.
Intermittent Fasting: This is great tool for someone who just wants to take a break from tracking their meals. Lets say you’re able to function without eating for a certain amount of hours, you can enjoy a big meal later that evening. There are certain days where I want to over indulge and there are some days where I want a small treat. Intermittent fasting a great way to save your calories for a wedding, party or a day where you want to eat freely but not have to worry about calories/macros. Quick disclaimer while it’s still possible to go over your calories, implementing this practice and keeping your eating window small and not let it carry to the following day, you should be able to enjoy the foods you love without hurting the progress you’ve made.