If you read last week's article, you know that this article isn't what I said I was going to be writing this week BUT what I am going to be writing about today, is something that needed to be said before writing that article.
What Is A Cheat Meal?
The term "cheat meal" can mean different things to different people but is most popularly used to describe a meal where you just eat whatever you want and "cheat" on your diet. This is popularly used in the bodybuilding world and the rationale behind it is that your body can't gain fat from a single meal, and your metabolism will be boosted because of it.
Why This Doesn't Work.
Let me clear this up right away. You can, and will gain fat if you go nuts and eat a massive cheat meal. Let me explain. Let's say you require 2000 Calories/day to maintain your weight and you are dieting on 1500 Calories/day. This will produce ~1 pound of weight loss/week since 1 pound of fat contains 3500 Calories. (Decreasing Calories by 500 doesn't exactly equal a 500 Calorie deficit for a few reasons, but we won't go into that level of detail here.) Let's say you eat a cheat meal that puts you at 3000 Calories for that day. That extra 1000 Calories doesn't just magically go away. That breaks the laws of physics. A few of those Calories will get burned but most of them will be stored as body fat.
The YOLO Effect.
When eating a cheat meal after being restricted all week, we tend to go overboard because "It's the only chance to eat whatever I want." This turns into a binge instead of having an extra side with dinner at your favorite restaurant. It becomes a large Big Mac combo, a large milkshake, and an apple pie. By the way, that meal is 2370 Calories. This plus the fact that you will likely eat the rest of your normal Calories on a cheat meal day means instead of eating 1500 Calories, you eat 3870. That means you will have undone over half a week's worth of progress.
Negative Association With Cheating.
Not only does a cheat meal physically set you back, it sets you back psychologically as well. "Cheating" on something brings feelings of guilt and shame. That also means you've just undone most of the progress that's been made, which adds the frustration of the diet not taking you where you want to go.
A Replacement For Cheat Meals?
There is a way to add more Calories on certain days without undoing progress or feeling guilty. It may sound to good to be true, but it isn't. That is what we will be talking about next week.
God bless you AND your family and I'll catch you next time!