Cheat meal? Cheat day? Cautionary tale?
Let's begin by defining what a cheat meal is, quick and simple it is a meal that is not consistent to your specific goal-based nutrition plan. a Cheat day is a day's worth of the ladder. now before we get into why to be careful of such practice, let's dive into the basics...Calories.
A big debate going on right now is that a calorie is a calorie, nothing more. In other words if you ingest less calories then you burn you are bound to lose weight...right? WRONG! but it is not your fault after all 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. So eating 1 gram of fat would yield 9 calories and 1 gram of any other food would yield 4 calories. In a world where more calories = more weight, fat = scary! and unhealthy foods = easily accessible, most common folks would logically adopt the mind set of “let’s just eat 500 or 1,000 less calories a day!”. I'd love to get into more details but let's save the rest of this argument for another article, in the meantime let's focus on the subject.
with the above information, and if you've been super good and on point with your diet a cheat meal can actually do you some good by replenishing muscle glycogen stores and providing a little surprise to your metabolism. A cheat day is absolutely out of question. Just like you've been planning your nutrition ahead you should practice the same with your cheat meal. What it shouldn't be is a "anything goes meal". Your cheat meal should still follow strict guidelines, one being quantity. Your brain will release a ton of serotonin once you start eating foods like pizza or a higher carbs meal...that feeling may trick you into eating more then you should. Second is junk food including candy & sweets, if not careful that cheat meal can undo a week worth or more of hard work and sacrifice.
Conclusion I'd stay away from cheat meals altogether and simply incorporate little cheats here and there between my regular feeding regimen. For example having that handful of chocolate covered almonds after lunch, or having that extra serving of an already healthy meal, here and there. But if you absolutely must have a cheat meal just be aware that the chances of that meal tipping you over the edge is real and you will have no one but yourself to blame. Just treat and proceed with caution.