Cheat Meal: often the biggest challenge to losing weight is following a strict diet and sticking to it for a long time to support your health or weight loss goals. But does this mean that you cannot eat the foods you love?
Don’t worry, here comes a meal called cheat meal that can help you stick to your diet plan with minimal damage.
A cheat meal or diet plan cheat day is popular among fitness enthusiasts, but is now making its way into the mainstream diet culture via social media.
This article in this article discusses the cheat meal, how effective it is, and whether incorporate it into your weight loss journey.
What is a cheat meal?
Diet plan cheating involves giving yourself calculated permission to break your strict diet rules.
The theory behind the reward-based diet cheat meal strategy is that by allowing yourself short periods of indulgence, you are more likely to stick to your prescribed diet most of the time.
When using cheat day, you will usually use either cheat meal or cheat day personally. I don’t recommend cheat day!! As the names suggest, a cheat meal is one meal that differs from your planned diet pattern, while a cheat day allows for free food choices for the entire day.
Methods of dietary cheating are very variable. How they implement them may look very different for different people, depending on the individual’s diet preferences and goals.
The foods you eat as cheat meals also vary from person to person because of individual tastes, but they often comprise high-calorie foods that would otherwise not be allowed on a regular diet plan.
There are no specific guidelines about when or how often a cheat meal should happen. People often include one cheat meal a week or two weeks later, but this can change depending on the person’s health or their weight loss goals.
In this way, the cheat strategy is adaptable and can be implemented alongside many diet styles.
Cheat meal is not suitable for all diet styles. Some diets, like the ketogenic diet, require very strict adherence with no room for cheating. Therefore, it is best to use a diet cheat meal strategy that allows for some flexibility.
Is a cheat meal really helpful when following a strict diet program?
Weight management and body composition changes are complex processes. Not everyone will respond the same way to the same strategies, the best diet plan is one that you can stick to in the long term.
We know it that if you eat fewer calories than your body burns, weight loss is likely. This way, a reward-based cheat meal or cheat day strategy may be effective if you can implement a well-planned diet and keep your total caloric intake low.
Weight loss and metabolic changes
We often claim it that the use of cheat meals will lead to measurable changes in body composition and improved metabolic function because of fluctuations in the hunger hormone leptin.
Leptin is a hormone responsible for suppressing feelings of hunger. Some research suggests that when someone experiences a significant weight loss, their leptin levels may decrease. However, this finding is inconsistent with other studies.
One of the popular theories for weight control is that with low levels of the circulating hormone leptin, you are more likely to overeat because you do not have enough of the hormone that sends you signal that you are satisfied and feeling full. This may lead to weight gain.
Supporters of the cheat meal strategy for weight loss believe that intermittent periods of high-calorie foods will trick your hormone cycle into temporarily producing more leptin and suppress the urge for excessive recovery.
Unfortunately, there is little rigorous scientific research to support this theory.
It remains unclear how fluctuations in leptin levels associated with weight changes affect a person’s ability to control eating behaviors and maintain weight loss. As a result, we need more research.
Weight loss may occur to some people using a cheat meal because of the lower total calories got by sticking to an appropriate diet most of the time and limiting high-calorie junk foods.
To Read: How Many Calories in Rice?
Eat foods that are not permitted in your diet
Another component of a cheat diet strategy is the theory that by allowing yourself to eat foods that are not permitted in your diet, you will have the motivation to stick to your planned diet most of the time.
This is where the cheat meal strategy relates to weight loss psychology. Some people can resist the urge to eat knowing that a cheat meal has come close, but not everyone can regulate their eating behaviors the same way. Hence, the same results cannot be guaranteed for everyone.
If you cannot maintain a certain self-control during cheat meals or days, you risk rolling back your previous weight-loss efforts if you end up eating more calories than you should.
So the cheat meal must be properly planned. It shouldn’t be framed as a free ticket to overeating.
As a reminder! The most effective weight loss strategy is one that you can stick to.
For some people, a cheat meal may be a great way to maintain healthy overall eating habits, for others, a fresh approach may be more appropriate.
Encouraging unhealthy behaviors
The trend towards incorporating cheat meals into your diet plan is becoming increasingly popular with Western diets and fitness practitioners, especially across social media platforms.
It is common to see pictures of delicious foods with fit and muscular people, which gives the impression that a cheat meal strategy is the key to getting their physical appearance, which appears on Instagram, for example.
While the cheat meal approach may work for some people, it also may have some potentially harmful effects.
Successful and sustained weight loss is more than just eating fewer calories than you burn in a day. Your attitude to food can also affect your ability to resist temptation and regulate eating behaviors.
The word “cheat” has a negative connotation and is associated with feelings of guilt. Using this term to describe a food or meal may impair your ability to maintain self-control even in cheat meals.
A three-month study noted that people who linked chocolate cake to celebration had more success with their weight loss goals than those who linked that food to feelings of guilt.
Because cheat meal focuses on a reward-based system, it may be ineffective for those who have difficulty regulating eating. Some people may even experience feelings of hopelessness and guilt.
One downside of a cheat meal is encouraging it to be binge-eating behavior. Causes of obesity can differ, and it is not always as simple as taking in and out calories.
The cheat meal method can exacerbate eating problems for people dealing with food addictive tendencies, an eating disorder, or an inability to self-regulate eating habits.
Research shows that people who use food as a coping mechanism may be more likely to overeat.
Understanding your motivations for eating cheat meals ensures that you choose the most correct approach to losing weight for your individual needs.healthily.
Cheating doesn’t have to mean that you ignore the cues of hunger and satiety, assuming that you can eat as much as you want from any food.
As with any weight loss or diet plan, it is important that the cheat meal strategy is approached rationally, along with realistic goals and expectations that will support mental and physical health.
Other strategies for cheat meals
Whether to implement a cheat-meal diet strategy will depend on the individual. Remember, the best and most effective diet plan is one that you can stick to.
Including cheat meals in your diet may be an effective way to support your health goals, but it should not be on its own. There are other strategies consider along with cheat meals to better support your unique personal needs in the long run.
One thing that can determine the success of a diet strategy is to be mindful of what you eat, even when the meal is cheat.
Pay attention to the hunger signals in your body and eat when you are hungry, but stop when you are full or satisfied. It also includes slowing down while you eat so you can enjoy your eating experience.
Focus on one type of cheat food
Another strategy that may help you while following your diet is to focus on just one or two types of cheat foods, rather than trying to fit them all at once.
For example, if you plan on having a cheat meal, instead of having cheeseburgers, cocktails, and dessert, choose just one or two of these fun options.
By focusing your attention on just one meal, you are less likely to tip the scales in an unhealthy direction through overconsumption during cheating.
You can continue to eat healthy and avoid foods you know you have difficulty controlling yourself while continuing to change the rules of your diet.
These strategies can be very helpful for those who have difficulty with self-control while eating.
The plan is important to success
We make preparation for the key to success in any major lifestyle change. If you have a sound plan, you are unlikely to give in to temptation because we design your plan to support you.
It can be difficult for some people to tell when to eat a cheat meal. Failing to hold your breath may make your diet goals less successful in the long term.
Implementing a cheat meal plan is a good way to stay on track. This means that even though you are allowing yourself to eat foods that you would not normally eat, you can still control the situation.
For example, planning when and where cheat meals will happen is a good first step. If you know there is a birthday party or other social event at the weekend, it might be wise to plan a cheat meal at that event.
You can also plan to keep portion control, even with more delicious foods. For example, plan to have a slice or two of pizza instead of eating the entire pie.
Another option worth exploring is framing a cheat meal as a time to pursue a balanced and healthy meal approach without tracking calories and macronutrients. This gives you a mental break from tracking.
Make your daily diet fun
One of the contributing factors to why maintaining the diet is difficult is that you dislike the food you eat. It’s difficult to follow a diet you don’t like.
Just because food is healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Not to mention, eating the foods you hate is not a requirement for reaching your health and weight loss goals.
Incorporating the foods you enjoy even when you don’t have a cheat day can be a great tool for making your diet look like a chore. It can also help you maintain more self-control during the diet and cheat days.
Working towards a healthier diet or lifestyle should be about making sustainable changes that meet your unique needs and tastes. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
If you cannot do the work on your own, consider consulting a qualified personal trainer, who can help you build an effective and fun diet plan to reach your health goals.
Cheat meals, which provide space for an exit from the diet, can effectively motivate some people to stick to their diet but may be unhealthy for people with an eating disorder or binge tendencies.
This strategy may be more successful with other tools, such as self-control and eating control.