A cheat meal can be defined as an unplanned, temporary lapse in dietary control. In other words, a yummy meal you’ve decided to eat because of how it tastes rather than the nutritional value it offers. (Although who isn’t conscious of their protein intake?) Cheat meals are also known as ‘free meals‘ or ‘reward meals‘ and should be used sparingly.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, strongman, athlete or just enjoy keeping fit, it’s always important to mix up your diet. Eating ‘clean’ by stuffing yourself with broccoli and chicken every few hours is rapidly becoming outdated. For most people cheat meals aren’t necessary, as if you’re flexible about how you meet your macro nutrient requirements, you’ll barely notice a difference.
On the other hand, cheat meals for some can provide a fantastic mental stimulant and if timed correctly, may be a superb way to boost your metabolism if you’ve been depleting yourself recently. Cheat meals should be used to help you to stick to your diet. If dropping your body fat, its often good to time a cheat meal in with a re-feed once every 2-3 weeks and from my personal experience they don’t hinder your progress.
To reduce the impact of your cheat meal its often a great idea to plan your cheats around diet. For example, when I decide that I wanted to eat ‘strawberry laces’ coated in sugar (which I often do) I’ll always eat them straight after my workout with a post workout protein shake.
You’ll often see competing bodybuilders rapidly raise their body fat straight after a competition on a 1 week or longer binge. This is because its not a good idea to stay in low single digits of body fat for long periods of time (often a low as 3-7%) and to do this they cheat in an incredible way.
… And remember, don’t get caught up on a cheat meal or cheat day, some people cheat their whole lives.