Burgers, pizza, ice cream, pancakes and waffles, they have 2 main things in common. One, they make my mouth water, even now while writing about it, and two, they are considered to be cheat meals. Is that a bad thing? Does that mean you should never ever indulge into these treats? Absolutely not. At the end of the day, you have to make decisions about how often you enjoy these treats for yourself. If you’re looking to lose a a good amount of weight, we definitely want to stay clear of these foods 99% of the time. If you have a good base-line already and are looking to stay fit that doesn’t mean we can just eat whatever we want to, but the door to having a ”cheat meal” is open more often.
When trying to lose weight
The common assumption of the 80/20% rule blows my mind sometimes. If we’re talking about losing big amounts of weight, I can guarantee the weight is not going to drop if you’re eating what’s considered “healthy” 80% of the time. 20% of the time can do a lot more damage than the 80% eating healthy does good. Think about it in terms of a test that you have to take, if you only cover 80% percent of the information that’s given, you’re probably not going to do as well on the actual test, right? It’s probably a lot better to cover all of your bases.
If you’re going into any diet/nutrition plan while only thinking about the cheat meals you can or can’t have, you’ve already lost. You’re not going to last if you don’t enjoy it. That doesn’t mean eating shitty foods but finding healthy food that you enjoy. There are so many ways of eating healthy that will still allow you to enjoy your daily meals rather than craving that cheat meal over the weekend. That way of “dieting” is going to be so much more successful and enjoyable.
Should you never eat cheat meals when you’re trying to lose weight? No, not necessarily, but save them for the right moments, like birthdays rather than whenever you feel like it.
If you’re not trying to lose weight
Having a good health and physical baseline is so beneficial and important when having a cheat meal once every (two) week(s).
A couple of months ago, I went out to have some food with the members of our gym. I ended up having a large amount of what would be considered cheat meal foods, because someone challenged me to an eat-off (but that’s beside the point). We ordered a pizza, a donut each, chicken wings, a burrito each and some nacho’s + the few beers we shared of course. Was that a typical weekend or cheat meal for either one of us? No, it wasn’t. Both of us are good at eating what is considered healthy throughout the week and we both look physically and aesthetically fit because of it. Besides feeling slightly bloated the next day, neither one of us noticed a difference in our physical appearance, all thanks to having built that solid baseline of fitness.
What I am trying to point out there is that we didn’t create that baseline for ourselves in a week or two, it has taken months and years of being active, eating the “right” foods and being dedicated. No, I don’t cheat every single week but when I do I know I can enjoy it because of what my nutrition looks like 99% of the time.
If you’re looking to lean out a little bit or stay as fit as you’re right now, means that you still need to have balanced nutrition 80% of the time. This is where the 80% rule comes in. If you’re pretty happy with what your body looks like and your energy levels feels like on a daily basis, you can be fairly sure that eating healthy foods the majority of the time will keep you there. There’s obviously a little bit more room for “cheating” if you don’t need to travel as far.
Cheat meals are a great way to enjoy and celebrate life in a way, they’re even better to share with friends or after a night out (We have all been there). No matter what goal you have, cheat meals can’t take over your life or dominate your thoughts throughout the rest of the week. Enjoy your ”healthy” foods throughout the week and you will find the cravings for cheat meals to be less powerful. The further away your goal is, the more you will have to dial in your nutrition, which means less or even no cheat meals at all.
At the end of the day, it’s your life and you need to be happy and satisfied with the choices you make for your body and health.
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