Now we know what you’re thinking, there’s no way that deviating from your diet can do any good. Let us stop you right there. You should never feel guilty about having your favorite foods. Cheating in school and sports may have a bad rep, and rightly so, but the infamous cheat meal has one of the baddest reps of them all. However, when done in moderation and used correctly, a cheat meal can actually help you lose weight *gasp*, *mic drop*, *makes sure you read it right.* Well folks your eyes aren’t deceiving you, we really did just write that.
Hear us out as we walk you through 5 reasons why it’s true and how to use cheat meals for the best results. What better time than the start of 2017? As the saying goes, “New year, new me!” Here’s a foolproof way to not miss out on your favorite meals and keep your diet on track:
We’re sure you think in order to get the results you want, you have to be good 24/7. Well (good news) that’s a lie. As long as you are eating according your diet 90% of the time, you can allow yourself 10% of freedom. How many meals does that translate to you ask? Well, if you are eating 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, you can have up to two cheat meals every week. That’s two meals of whatever the heck you want!
2. Cheating Psychology
If you have a sweet-tooth or are a carb monster, going cold-turkey on New Year’s day might be a rough adjustment for your body. Your stomach keeps telling you yes, but your mind has to tell it no. Guess what, this is completely normal. Say it with me, you are NORMAL. Changing something as big as a whole diet is going to take some getting used to. Cheat meals will help keep you sane and increase your chances of sticking to it.
3. Burn It, Then Eat It
This method is backed by science (thanks science!). Working out before your cheat meal, ideally before you’ve eaten anything that day, will deplete your sugar levels (scientists call this glycogen). This is a massive help because before those carbs start going to your thighs, butt, or love handles, the calories will go to restoring your sugar levels. The best workouts to deplete sugar get your heart rate up, then down to a rest rate, and back up again. Try finding HIIT or Tabata workouts like the one above.
4. Scientifically Proven to Help
It’s science, so it must be okay! And it is. Instead of spewing scientific jargon everywhere, let’s keep it simple. If you’re on a strict diet, you might be eating healthy, but not consuming a ton of calories. When you counter-balance this by throwing in a calorie-rich meal in, it actually boosts your metabolism by raising the leptin hormone level that tells your body to burn stored fat. Who knew eating your favorite meal could help you kiss the fat goodbye?
5. Indulge Don’t Engorge
We’re sure you’re already thinking about what you’ll eat for that first cheat meal, but let’s remember it’s called a cheat meal not day. This means one normal serving of what your heart desires, so carb monsters don’t go eating a mound of spaghetti, it’s not free-for-all carb day. The cheat meal is meant to satisfy any craving that might have you feeling like you want to abandon the diet all together. The best way not to abuse your freedom is to plan to cheat and don’t eat when you are famished.
When you get a couple of breaks here and there, any diet will be a piece of cake (pun most definitely intended). So get ready to actually fulfill your New Year’s resolution this year and look good while doing it. We want to see your hard work! Join others trying to make their new healthy lifestyles a habit with the #66Days Pledge (more info here).