You eat super strict during the week. Chicken, vegetables, salads, ect. The weekend rolls around and your food cravings are INTENSE. Burgers, pizza, chocolate, ice-cream, alcohol… you want ALL THE FOODS. You decide to have your cheat meal on Saturday…only it isn’t a cheat meal…it is an all out feast that turns into a cheat day. How many calories did you consume? You have no idea…maybe 1000? Maybe 5000? Then you wonder why you aren’t making any progress… Does this sound familiar?
Having “cheat meals” is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to lose fat. We see it all the time. We get so many emails and messages from people who are frustrated with their lack of results despite “doing everything right”.
The truth is that we made this mistake ourselves. Back when we first started, we followed the usual “bro” advice (this was well before we were qualified and educated). We ate an extremely restrictive “clean” diet during the week with a planned cheat meal on the weekends where we ate whatever we wanted. Our cravings were pretty intense by the time the weekend rolled around from avoiding “bad” foods all week so we went pretty hard! Burgers, pizza, huge pastas, blocks of chocolate, ice cream, lollies – you name it! We had no idea how many calories we were actually consuming in this meal (which often ended up being more than just one meal, let’s be honest). Meanwhile, we weren’t really seeing any progress. We didn’t understand why, because we were following the advice that so many others were following.
Luckily, we took the time to educate ourselves. We learnt about energy balance and realised that our “cheat meal(s)” were significantly affecting ours, resulting in our lack of progress.
If your goal is to lose weight/fat then you must be in a CALORIE DEFICIT for the week. That means you must eat less food than you burn for that period. If you are having a cheat meal that is untracked (and usually very calorie dense), chances are that you will be blowing out this deficit and ruining your progress as a result, just like we were.
So what’s the solution? Remove the need to have a cheat meal.
The desire to have a “cheat meal” is usually caused by following overly restrictive diets that are unsustainable and label foods as “good” or “bad”. This is perpetuated by the phrase “cheat meal”. This insinuates that you are “cheating” on your diet and that you are doing the wrong thing by eating these foods.
However, by taking the time to educate yourself on energy balance and the nutritional content of food you will realise that there are no good or bad foods – just ones that are more or less calorie dense, and as such are more or less appropriate choices for your goals. You learn that you don’t need to avoid certain foods and that you can include them into your daily diet to satisfy any cravings you have. This makes you feel like your diet isn’t restrictive, so by the time the weekend comes around you won’t feel the need for a “cheat meal”.
With that being said, we know that it can be hard to fit certain foods into your calories for the day and you may have an event or dinner out with friends that you need more calories for to be able to enjoy yourself. Instead of just having an untracked “cheat meal”, you can factor in a high calorie day or days instead. Let’s say your weekly calorie budget to lose fat is 11900 calories. Instead of just eating 1700 calories per day, your calories could be structured like this:
5 x days at 1580 calories + 2 x days at 2000 calories = 11900 calories
6 x days at 1617 calories + 1 day at 2200 calories = 11900 calories
These structures still give you a reasonable amount of calories during the week where you can enjoy some treats PLUS allows you more calories on the weekends to enjoy a meal out with family/friends while staying on track to achieving your goals.
So it’s time to ditch the cheat meals and start getting results! As we always say, knowledge is power when it comes to nutrition!
If you need help with accountability over this time, we are still taking on clients for our Coaching Program! Click here for more details and to get started today!