“Treat yourself…don’t cheat yourself” – The Importance of Incorporating Strategic Cheat Meals in Your Diet
We celebrated the first day of spring last week, and it’s officially crunch time for summer body goals – however, yet another major holiday celebrated by many is upon us ready to tease with all the treats and eats. The question is, do you risk it all and indulge, or do you stay diligent in sticking to your clean eating?
The answer is… Treat Yourself!
But of course, there are caveats. Let me break down how you can, and should in my opinion, afford yourself a good re-feed (cheat meal) and use it to your full advantage.
First, here is why I think you should treat yourself:
1. Keep your body guessing. Use the cheat meal as a either reset button to switch up your meal plan, or kick your metabolism back into gear – either way, its purpose should serve to avoid plateau since our bodies naturally get accustom to any monotony.
2. Reward your hard work and determination. It takes dedication and perseverance to stay on track with your goals; setting a planned cheat meal will undoubtedly give you something to look forward to and work toward, but it will also satisfy any craving that has been keeping you up at night. It hopefully will also inspire you to level up your workouts in anticipation of that feel-good food.
3. It’s not a Diet, It’s a lifestyle. Incorporating cheat meals will help you adopt the lifestyle you are after – the ability to nourish your health and wellness with clean, nutrient-rich foods, but afford flexibility when life calls for it (i.e., those staff parties, friend/family celebrations, cookouts, etc.), and still maintain what you have worked so hard for.
Now, here is your #CallietWay Cheat Sheet for cheat meals:
• Preferably once every 7-10 days give yourself one meal in which you break your clean meal plan and consume something that has not been in your diet (i.e., a good home cooked comfort-food meal, pizza, burger, or your favorite plate from your favorite restaurant, etc.).
NOTE: ONE MEAL, not an entire day of eating whatever your heart desires.
• Make your designated cheat day fall on your hardest working day (e.g., leg day, or a when you will be exerting more energy than usual). Put those extra calories to good use for building, recovering, and fueling your metabolism!
• Cheat smart – if your primary body goal is to lean out (and not bulk) be sure your refeed meal is a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats, and does not exceed your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE; how many calories you typically expend in a day).
• What to eat? There are many different schools of thought surrounding this question however, my advice is to steer clear of sugary sweets and limit refined carbs. The purpose of the re-feed meal is still to fuel your body, and filling your tank with sugar will inevitably lead to a crash.
• Be sure to keep up with all other meals and have your cheat simply replace one meal. For example, if your meal plan has you eating 5 times each day and you choose to cheat for lunch, you would likely replace your 3rd meal with the food of your choice and pick back up with meals 4 and 5 to finish the day.
• Enjoy it! Whether you choose to enjoy it in solitude, or share it with loved ones or those who support and celebrate your fitness goals, TREAT YOURSELF!