6 Reasons To NOT Have a Cheat Meal
Many diet plans out there frame cheat meals or cheat days as having some type of important benefits. So called “experts” will argue that they’re supposed to prevent you from feeling deprived, boost metabolism, increase the chances of your success with a nutrition plan , etc.
Well, at Frequency we simply DON”T agree. (You’re just too fragile right now)
Now don’t get me wrong, when you’ve hit your goal weight and body composition… We have nothing against occasional “re-feeds,” as in eating more carbs or calories than you would usually in one day.
You might call these refeeds healthy cheat meals – because they’re absolutely fine and may even be good for you. 🙂
But claiming that it is somehow beneficial to pig out on extremely harmful processed foods with sugar, refined wheat, or trans fats… Just doesn’t make sense to us.
Ultimately though, it’s your own body and you’ll make whatever decision you believe is right. But, I thought I’d give you a few reasons why having a cheat meal or cheat day may not be the best idea!
1. Your Body Won’t Fully Adapt to the Healthy Diet
When you drastically change the way you eat, a certain adaptation process needs to take place. (28 days +)
For example, if you’re doing a lower-carb diet then your body needs to change certain hormones and ramp up production of enzymes to make use of fat as the primary source of fuel.
If you keep cheating, you will prevent this metabolic adaptation from ever fully completing. (Real Talk)
Also, when you abandon the standard western diet and start eating more real foods, it can take some time for the sense of taste to adapt. If you have ever done the paleo diet for an extended period of time without cheating then you may have experienced this. With time, real foods start to taste much better.
If you cheat and eat junk foods frequently, your taste sensations won’t adapt completely and you won’t be able to experience the same satisfaction from real foods.
2. If You Pig Out on Junk Food, it Will Feed The “Addiction”
I personally believe junk foods to be downright addictive. This problem appears to be common and people who have issues with cravings and binge eating should probably abstain from these foods as much as possible.
If you keep having something that you’re addicted to, it just keeps the addiction going. In this case, having “everything in moderation” isn’t a good idea as it will be almost impossible to maintain.
If you crave junk foods all the time and keep giving in to these cravings, that will just make the cravings even stronger. Avoid these foods completely and the cravings will diminish over time.
Abstinence is the only thing that works for addiction, period.
3. You Might Binge and Eat Way Too Much
Some people (myself included) can binge like there’s no tomorrow and ruin a week’s worth of dieting in one sitting.
I may be an unusual case, but after one particular binge I calculated the calories in it and it turned out I had eaten 5,000 calories in one sitting.
(Yea, it may or may not have been a whole pizza)
That’s two days worth of calories for a grown man and an entire week (or two) of dieting pretty much ruined. Yup, that’s right. Calories don’t RESET overnight. What you ate yesterday could have negative effects on your diet plan for days to come. 🙁
4. You May Feel Guilty Afterwards
Ever feel bloated, guilty, and miserable after eating junk food? That’s pretty common, actually. I used to feel this way all the time.
The cheat meal may give you some pleasure while you are eating it, but it sure as hell won’t make you feel good afterwards. Stop giving food the chance to hold you as an emotional hostage. Food is meant to fuel your body for activity, period.
5. Cheating Does Not Raise Metabolism or Prevent “Starvation Mode”
The concept of “starvation mode” is largely a myth with no real science behind it and doesn’t really happen until you get to an extremely low body fat percentage. If you’re a bodybuilder or semi-professional competitive exerciser , then refeeds are likely to help prevent adverse effects of dieting for too long. But even in this case, choosing healthy foods is still a better idea.
For healthy people trying to stay healthy or lose a bit of weight, cheat meals are unnecessary at best and may be detrimental.
If you’re worried about your metabolic rate going down during a weight loss period, lift weights. This is actually proven to maintain both your metabolic rate and your muscle mass.
Check out some research on that topic, HERE.
6. Junk Food is Bad For You
Junk food is bad for you (duh) and that is probably the reason you gave it up in the first place.
Having McDonalds or a pizza with some ice cream once a week may not seem like a big deal compared to people who eat this sort of crap every single day. But eating these junk foods once a week is still clearly worse than having none at all.
So ultimately the bottom line is this: Resist the urge to cheat this weekend. One meal can erase a whole weeks worth of effort!
Riley Phelps, MS CSCS