Diet and exercise work hand in hand to help you achieve your #bodygoals and #fitnessgoals. But if you are to ask which one is more important or yields better results, experts would answer “diet.” This is because what you put in your body has more effects than how you move it. In other words, cutting back on your calorie intake would prove to be more beneficial to your weight loss plans than running around the block or on the treadmill for an hour every day.
Experts advise that to lose weight, you need to have negative energy balance or have less calories than your burn. Keep in mind that the formula to successfully lose a few pounds is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. If you are to lose one pound, you will need to cut back or lose at least 3,500 calories. To burn at least 750 calories, you can exercise for 30 minutes every day and take out 3,000 calories from your meals.
Now, you may be wondering why dieting is far more effective than working out. The truth is it takes too much effort to burn 500 to 700 calories through exercise. But by skipping on mocha frap, donuts, burgers, pizzas and other “sinful” foods, you’ll be able to cut back on more calories.
Yes, working out is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. But when it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t usually offer much. This is because exercise or any form of physical activity makes you hungrier by the minute. Additional studies reveal that although you burn calories when you go to the gym or keep yourself active, it eventually plateaus as your body adjusts. This is why most of those who work out to get to lose the extra pounds complain about getting stuck at a certain weight. In short, a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle are the key to being a few sizes smaller.
But just because you are trying so desperately to lose weight, and thus you punish yourself by turning your back from anything fatty, oily or carbo-loaded, you are no longer allowed to indulge in all the scrumptious and mouth-watering foods you used to enjoy. There is of course what health buffs call as “cheat meals.”
- 1 What is a cheat meal?
- 1.1 Why is a cheat meal useful?
- 1.2 REGULATE APPETITE HORMONES
- 1.3 90/10 RULE
- 1.4 KEEP YOU SANE
- 1.5 Dirtiest and tastiest cheat meals you need in your life
- 1.6 Burgers, fries and all the works
- 1.7 “I scream for ice cream!”
- 1.8 Pizza, pizza and… more pizza
- 1.9 Chocolates for the sweet tooth
- 1.10 Grilled meat, steaks, chicken wings and more
- 1.11 Sugary goodness
- 1.12 Everything fried and oily
- 1.13 Shrimp, squid, crabs and seafood galore
- 1.14 Pasta and noodles oodles
- 1.15 10,000 calories worth of full English breakfast
- 1.16 Beer and other alcoholic beverages
- 1.17 Additional tips
- 1.18 So how do you maximize the benefits of a cheat meal?
What is a cheat meal?
A cheat meal, also known as cheat day or trash day, is a meal that does not include your usual dietary restrictions. It means that you don’t count the calories, and ignore all diet plans for one full meal. But since it’s only a cheat meal, it does not mean that it has to be a full day of gorging on burgers, pizzas, ice cream and donuts.
To fitness enthusiasts, a cheat meal is counterproductive. Why spend all week doing grueling exercises and following strict diets only to indulgence in one evening of every week to give in to cravings? Yes, that all sound too counter-intuitive. But to a lot of people, cheat meals are that “light at the end of the tunnel.” It’s like making a dog do all kinds of tricks for a treat at the end. In other words, cheat days are a way for people who work so hard for their fitness goals to rewards themselves after submitting themselves to strenuous activities and virtually zero calorie-diets. So, in a way it helps them keep going for their goals.
Why is a cheat meal useful?
Indulging in your cravings once a week can actually be beneficial to your weight loss goals. Here are some scientific reasons that demonstrate why a cheat day is a good thing:
REGULATE APPETITE HORMONES
Our appetite is controlled by two hormones in our bodies – leptin and ghrelin – both of which play a vital role in how hungry we get. Leptin is known as the hormone that suppresses the appetite, while ghrelin is the one that stimulates it.
When you stick to a strict diet, your body feels deprived or that it is in fasting. This affects the levels of both hormones significantly. Counting calories causes leptin levels to fall and ghrelin to rise. So if you are watching your calorie intake for a whole week and you go for one cheat meal at the end of the week, your hormone levels and appetite can be kept in check. It has been proven that a carbo-loaded meal can boost your leptin production by almost 30 percent. This means that increasing your intake of carbohydrates, fats and sugar in one meal can help your hormone levels to return to normal, managing your hunger levels and driving up your energy levels.
What’s even more amazing about a cheat meal is that its effects can last for up to 24 hours. When you are trying to lose weight, you will experience a weight loss plateau after shedding off a few pounds. But with a carefully planned cheat meal, you’ll be able to combat this stage and successfully achieve your goal.
Even the most ripped people would vouch on a cheat meal. This is because they follow a 90/10 meal plan, which refers to 90 percent specific goal-based nutritional plan and 10 percent indulgence to cravings. Nutrition expert Alan Aragon suggest that the best time to indulge in carbs or sweets is after your workout. The reason is that all those non-healthy foods will be used by your muscles and not stored in your body as fat.
KEEP YOU SANE
Say, you are going on a strict diet for 12 weeks. Can you imagine what that can do to you psychologically? Can you imagine how stressful that can be?
Some people can have intense cravings for particular foods, especially when they’re on a restrictive diet. In fact, 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men experience this. When this happens to you and your craving isn’t satisfied at all, this could affect you mentally. Notice how dieting affects your mood and libido? A cheat meal, which consists of food that make you feel satisfied, can increase your dopamine level, which is your body’s happiness neurotransmitter. When that happens, your brain’s reward and pleasure centers are stimulated, giving you a sense of satisfaction. As a result, your mood is significantly improved, and so does your libido.
Dirtiest and tastiest cheat meals you need in your life
When you’ve been on a diet for quite some time, all you could ever think about is that tub of your favorite pistachio ice cream or that double cheeseburger. But when you can’t have just one bite of the foods you crave for, you might feel like your stomach is an abysmal pit of hunger.
Here’s a list of the most sinful yet tastiest cheat meals you need to keep you sane and most of all, help you achieve your fitness goals:
Burgers, fries and all the works
When you’re dying to load on carbs, what better way to get total satisfaction than to binge on burgers, fries, onion rings and soft drinks? Whether you go to Shake Shack, In ‘N Out Burger, McDonald’s or Burger King, you’ll definitely get your burger fix that fast.
“I scream for ice cream!”
This frozen delight is probably everybody’s favorite dessert. Why not? It’s creamy, sweet, flavorful and uberly satisfying, especially in summer. But it’s packed with thousands of calories, which is why it made its way to the list of the baddest cheat meals. There’s a ton of options to choose from. There’s rocky road, dark chocolate, mango, cheese, strawberry, mixed berries, pistachio, almond and so much more.
One man consumed 11,000 calories worth of ice cream. Now, that’s what you call dirtiest, tastiest cheat meal!
Pizza, pizza and… more pizza
Lots of pepperoni, salami, olives, onions and mozzarella cheese, please!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ate four boxes of thick-crust pizza for his cheat meal. That’s okay because he’s a big guy and he’s going to burn all that fat and calories in an instant. But for the ordinary guy, like you, you might want to rethink about having four boxes. Kidding aside, though, a slice or two of your favorite pizza for a cheat meal would definitely satiate your craving. But if you don’t want to deviate too far away from your diet plan, you can have the health and less sinful kind, which is topped with veggies and skim cheese. For your crust, use a pita bread or a whole-grain English muffin.
How about five pounds of Stromboli, which is essentially like pizza but folded in half, sealed and baked?
Chocolates for the sweet tooth
The sweet, creamy goodness that is chocolate is never not part of any cheat meal. Chocolate in any form – ice cream, cakes, bars, liquids, etc. — will be forever be a welcome treat after weeks of not having subjected yourself from a rigid dietary plan. But this sweet treat isn’t really as sinful as others make it out to be. In fact, it has been medically proven to reduce various chronic diseases as well as improve your emotional wellbeing. But keep it to a minimum if you must eat chocolate — stick to a 150 calorie portion for a not so dirty cheat meal.
Grilled meat, steaks, chicken wings and more
For guys who lift weights, cheat meals would mean bingeing on meat. BBQ and steaks would be their go-to cheat meals because they need the protein to build and develop muscles.
Most cravings are for anything sweet. Aside from chocolates, most cheat meals would include sugary treats, like cakes, cupcakes, fudgy brownies, cake bars, donuts, muffins and just anything that’s packed with sugar.
A lady was able to down 12,000 calories of pies, muffins, pancakes, donuts, bagels, smoothies, cookies, ice cream and more.
Everything fried and oily
Sausages, bacon, fried eggs, hotdogs, fried chicken, onion rings and French fries — these are completely dirty yet tasty additions to your trash days. Don’t forget slices of ham, meatloaf and the like.
Shrimp, squid, crabs and seafood galore
All the bounty of the sea are usually low in calorie count. So, you can say that they’re not really the guilty kind of food for a cheat meal. But if you drench your shrimp in butter, wrap squid in bread crumps or feast on a king crab all by yourself, now that’s what makes these ocean goodies quite fattening.
Pasta and noodles oodles
Carbonara, pesto pasta, ramen and other pasta and noodle dishes are always high in carbohydrates and of course, calories. Plus, they’re usually served with loads of cheese.
10,000 calories worth of full English breakfast
It consists of bacons, eggs, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, fried bread and black pudding. Can you handle that much meat in just one meal?
Beer and other alcoholic beverages
Beer also has sugar. That’s why it’s included in this list. Mixing beer or other alcoholic beverages with any of the foods listed above would be the ultimate cheat meal for anyone who’s trying to lose weight.
One of the worst, coma-inducing yet scrumptious cheat days that anyone has ever had totaled to 50,000 calories of sweets, carbs, sodium and fats. It had everything from pizzas, waffles, hash browns, fruits, granolas, strudels, eggs, burgers, pies, tortillas, cheese, chocolates, ice cream – everything you could ever imagine!
These cheat meals may sound too tempting. But downing that much calories in a day or two could be damaging to your body, especially your digestive system. If you don’t want to suffer the consequences of trash eating, it’s best that you are aware and are careful not to make these cheat meal mistakes.
- You have way too many cheat meals in a week (or month).
When you eat all these “sinful” way too often, of course, you can’t call that a cheat or trash meal anymore. That’s deliberately neglecting your diet, thus endangering yourself of gaining more weight than what you lost from the start of your fitness journey.
- You eat too much during the course of your cheat meal.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, too. You might try to justify it by saying that it is after all a cheat meal. But the purpose of such deviation is not to forget that you were actually on a diet and are trying to lose weight. Rather, it is to satisfy your cravings brought about by following a restrictive diet. So, if you eat too much, say, more than 5,000 calories, you’ll naturally gain weight afterwards, unless you burn everything for the next couple of days. Nevertheless, planning your cheat meal in accordance to your dietary plan is the key to successfully keeping your cravings and metabolism in check.
- You make it a “cheat day” instead of cheat meal.
It’s one thing to satisfy your cravings in one meal once a week. It’s another to indulge in unhealthy foods for an entire day and pack on more than 5,000 calories.
Eating at restaurants alone can make you eat at least 1,200 calories. A French toast with a side of bacon can weigh in at least 2,700 calories. So, if you were to eat out for an entire day, you are more likely to gain at least 5,000 calories. Imagine how much calories you are going to take if you do it every week. You’ll most likely to struggle to lose weight if you do so.
- You focus on sugar-filled foods.
It was scientifically proven that people find it hard to stop sugar cravings when they start to eat sweets. This is because sugar, along with salt and fats, is one of the highly palatable foods that seem addictive to humans. So, if you think that giving in to a cup of ice cream or a bite of donut wouldn’t hurt, you need to think again.
- You go on a drinking spree.
You might think that it’s just for one day, or that it’s just for a couple hours. So, you go on a drinking session with your friends not knowing that this could put all your hard work to waste. Although alcohol can reduce your appetite, improve insulin absorption and isn’t stored as body fat, consuming too much still has its negative effects on your body. Remember: too much of anything is bad for you.
But just like carbohydrates, alcohol can block fat oxidation or the process that breaks down giant lipid molecules into smaller pieces, simply referred to triglycerides and fatty acids. So when you drink too much alcohol, your body’s natural process of burning fat can be hampered, which will eventually cause you to gain more weight.
So how do you maximize the benefits of a cheat meal?
One, make sure you only “cheat” once per week and ensure that it does not exceed 150 percent of your current intake of calories. By doing so, you are preventing your body from feeling deprived, thus increasing your need to satisfy your hunger with sinful cheat meals.
Two, plan your meals well. If you are going to have your cheat meal at dinner, buffer your craving by consuming lots of protein. That way, you won’t be too eager to munch on carbo-rich and fatty foods. Also, when eating out, it’s always best to assume the worst when it comes to calorie count. By doing so, you’ll be able to count your calories better.