Why cheat meals are important

If you follow The Rock on Instagram, then you already know all about cheat meals. The Rock’s cheat meals are legendary for being a gigantic amount of food that no regular human could possibly consume; ten pizzas at a time, twenty pancakes all to himself, and multiple cakes and cookies are just some examples of his ridiculous cheat meals.

This isn’t for everyone, however, but cheat meals are an important aspect of your diet and should be considered when planning your meals for the week. This article will look at what exactly cheat meals are, why people do them, some examples of good cheat meals you can implement, as well as methods you can use to make those cheat meals a bit healthier.

Let’s get into it!

What are cheat meals?

Dieting is difficult and sticking to a strict meal plan can become boring and exhausting. This is where cheat meals come in.  Cheat meals are calculated and planned breaks, or ‘cheats’, in your strict diet plan. This usually takes the form of indulgent or unhealthy foods that you normally wouldn’t be able to eat. Also common is the use of a cheat day where, instead of a single cheat meal, you allocate an entire day when you don’t need to follow your strict diet or meal plan. We don’t recommend this however as if has the potential to get out of hand.

The purpose of a cheat meal is to enjoy foods that you wouldn’t normally be able to as part of your diet, not to ingest as many calories as possible in one go. As a result, as long as you are deliberate and intentional with your cheat meals, having one or two cheat meals per week will not derail your progress. It must be accompanied by a solid workout routine and healthy diet, however, in order to work properly.

Why do people have cheat meals

The general thinking behind cheat meals is that if you allow yourself to engage in a period of indulgence then you are more likely to stick to your diet the majority of the time. Having a weekly cheat meal has been shown to help boost your metabolism and is an important element to include in your diet plans for long term dieting success.

Planning is extremely important when it comes to cheat meals. A lot of people tend to schedule their cheat meals on the weekend – the time when they will be craving unhealthy/ fatty foods the most. This helps them to have something to look forward to and stops them from indulging in those foods during the week.

Planning is also extremely important to ensuring that your cheat meal doesn’t turn in to a cheat day or, worse yet, cheat days. Cheat meals are meant as a reward for sticking to your meal plan and acts as balance to your strict diet. If you aren’t vigilant, however, it is possible for you to succumb to temptation and overindulge when it is time for your cheat meal. That’s why scheduling and planning is super important for your cheat meals and exercising regimen overall.

Best foods for cheat meals

Just because they are cheat meals doesn’t mean that you have to completely abandon eating healthy foods. Cheat meals are cheat meals for a reason, however, and we aren’t telling you to have a salad as your cheat meal, but it is still possible to eat better even when ‘cheating’. This is due to a simple mindset change and finding creative alternatives to traditional cheat meals in terms of both ingredients and preparation methods. Finding healthier options/alternatives allows you to receive the psychological benefits of the cheat meal without sacrificing your gains or your diet too much.

Pancakes

Pancakes are an excellent cheat meal and can be eaten for either breakfast or lunch. To make pancakes a bit healthier you can make whole wheat pancakes or include healthy ingredients such as different fruits (like bananas or blueberries), protein powder, or oat/almond flour. By switching up the traditional ingredients for healthier alternatives you are able to turn this cheat meal into something a little healthier while still getting the flavour and experience of eating pancakes.

Chocolate

Chocolate is a quintessential cheat meal and is one of the go to snacks of most people. Instead of eating your traditional chocolate, substitute it for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and is extremely beneficial for both heart and brain health. If you want to take it even a step further, get a chocolate product that includes nuts. Nuts are an excellent source of protein and can make your chocolate cheat meal healthier. (If you are allergic to nuts, skip this variation and just stick to the dark chocolate).

Pizza

A go to meal when having a lazy day in or a movie night, pizza is a great dish to have as your cheat meal and can be eaten for both lunch and dinner. To make your pizza slice a bit healthier you can make your pizza yourself at home instead of ordering out. This ensures that you are aware of all the ingredients that go into the pizza and are able to manage the portions of each. As for the pizza itself you can make it with a whole wheat thin crust, add a bunch of different vegetables, and can use a low-fat sauce as the base. If you want some protein toppings, you can use leaner protein options such as sliced chicken breast.

French fries

If you are craving French fries on your day off, then why not substitute your typical fries for a sweet potato variation. Additionally, making them at home is the way to go as you can bake them instead of frying them which is a much healthier preparation method.

Burgers

Burgers are a staple cheat meal and is probably the go-to cheat meal for most people. Nothing beats a good burger, but it is no secret that they aren’t the healthiest option available. To make this a bit healthier you can use extra lean ground beef or ground turkey. As with the other options, making it yourself is the best way to go as you have full control over everything that you are including in the burger and the way in which it is prepared. In terms of what is going into the burger, you should make sure to include the usual lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The healthiest versions of these toppings would be the fully organic options, free of harmful pesticides/herbicides and are grown naturally.

Final thoughts

Cheat meals are excellent ways to help curb your cravings as well as helping you to maintain your diet more easily. Many athletes and body builders utilise the cheat meal strategy and incorporate a cheat meal into their diet at least one to two times per week. As long as you are properly planning your cheat meals throughout the week and are vigilant about what you eat, how much you eat, and how frequently you eat, you should be able to implement a cheat meal or two into your diet with minimal issues. Cheat meals must be paired with a regular healthy diet and consistent exercise/workouts in order to be successful and meaningful, however. Without these, cheat meals become more harmful and turn into a bad habit.