Cheat meals the right way
Trying to lose weight? To keep a balanced nutrition in a long term journey? To gain muscles or stay lean? And having these or other reasons you still have the feeling of putting high effort for this, cutting down you meals and can’t enjoy the food that you want? It is not supposed to be like this. You can do your adaptations to make it guilt free and having the special delicious meal or snack you want.
Whatever your goal is for which you started a controlled balanced nutrition plan, the right mindset and balance are key factors for your success in achieving the goal.
It is not uncommon that you will hear around you in gym or class the term cheat meal.
A cheat meal is eating something that is not part of your diet plan and is typically junk food like pizza, hamburgers or even French fries.
Why to have a cheat meal? If you follow a low calorie diet or a lower calorie balance (consumed less calories than you actually need due to your trainings). In such cases it is important to maintain the required muscles glycogen levels and boost metabolism. And of course by re-feeding for a higher calorie level you are able not to feel guilty by eating the meal you want which is not exactly the balanced nutrition you are trying to preserve. And this is totally ok…this is the purpose of it and we are not robots and this what can help us to stick our dietary plans. Just keep in mind cheat meal is exactly what it is, a meal not a day of out of proportion calories consumption.
Discussion about cheat meal and generally about nutrition should not refocus us from what is important: we should not count calories and better start honoring your body. True, sometimes it is inevitable but most of time we should learn to listen to our body when consuming food.
Cheat meals is just an accessory tool we should learn how to use.
Many nutrition experts have advocated what’s known as the 90%-10% rule.
The 90/10 rule means that 90% of the time you should eat according to your specific goal-based nutrition plan, and 10% of time you can indulge in something that is not on the diet. If you consume cheat meals this way, you won’t derail your fat loss or fitness goals.
Some will go with 80/20 rule, which is likely to be ok for active people who learned self-control that can make the better judgements and calculation of their overall weekly and daily efforts.
Having cheat meal post workout is actually the best time for consuming such a meal as this is a re-building phase and your muscles need to load back glycogen level and to start rehabilitating muscle tissues and likely the energy will go for this type of consumptions and storing rather than storing the energy as fat.
So how can we use properly this cheat meal concept? Here are some important strategies to consider:
Plan your cheat meal
Have a strategy of when to consume it. During weekend family time, post hard workout you about to have, a social event. By planning your cheat meal, you know what you’ll be eating and can cut a few extra calories earlier in the day. Don’t starve yourself it won’t lead to good places.
Cheat meal and leptin hormone
Cheat meal can boost metabolism by increasing levels of leptin, the “anti-starvation” hormone responsible for sending hunger messages to the body. When your body senses a calorie deficit, leptin levels drop, prompting the metabolism to slow down and conserve energy.
This way you signal your body you are not out of energy storage and you can burn fat for energy.
Cheat meal calories prediction
If you plan ahead and know the occasion in which you are going to have your cheat meal you can more or less calculate the amount of calories you about to consume. Don’t arrive your cheat meal famished and then lose control. Instead, make sure to have healthy meal before that in order to fuel your body with the right mix of essential vitamins, protein, minerals fat and carbohydrates.
Don’t replace your cheat meal with television or bar show eating.
It is proven that distracted eating can be 10% and up to 25% calories adding compared to a table dinning. If still doing so, just keep that in mind in your overall calories consumption.
Cheat meal still can be healthy enough
Some cheat meals are better than others. And a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein meal, however “naughty,” can help you stay on track with your diet. Why? Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on leptin levels, which help you burn fat and feel satisfied. And protein has the greatest influence on satiety due to its influence on appetite-regulating hormones and high thermic effect—the process of digesting protein requires more energy of your body than any other macronutrient. Need an example? How about a few rolls of sushi? Steak and a potato? Pancakes and an egg white omelet? Spaghetti and meatballs? The options are virtually unlimited.
You should prefer high carb meal over high fat meal as the second one will go for a more immediate fat storage.
Additionally, as we are trying to say that cheat meal can be healthy, you should satisfy yourself with this meal, so keep in mind that you should eat what you are craving for just keep in mind you can and should improve it to be healthier.
Cheat meal post or pre workout
If you reach your workout weak or exhausted, this could be low glycogen levels and having your workout in such condition might not contribute for your health in overall.
If this happen frequently, you should consider having your cheat meal before an extensive workout you are planning.
Also as already mentioned, make a choice of refueling yourself after hard work out in which you are exhausted and you will earn both satisfaction of hard work with the meal you craved for.
Small treats can make the difference
Knowing yourself it will be hard to wait for your cheat meal? Make it by bites and have small treats each day. These small treats still can be satisfies, healthier than imagined and not braking our nutrition rules.
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