Is a “cheat meal” a necessary part of a diet, or something you have to earn? Here’s how to make the most of a “free meal” to crush cravings and even burn fat faster!
Let’s get straight to the point. Yes, it’s OK to have a “cheat meal.” However, the term “cheat” is pretty loaded, and sends an unnecessarily strict message about nutrition. For this we prefer to call them “free meals.”
Whatever you call them, for most, an occasional higher-calorie meal where you don’t have to eat your planned meals, or order grilled chicken and steamed veggies off the restaurant menu– won’t derail your progress.
In fact, research shows an occasional diet break can assist in boosting your metabolism, especially if you are on a low-calorie diet for an extended period.
Free meals can also provide a much-needed mental break. Constantly trying to resist your cravings can be stressful! Allowing yourself to let loose and eat what you want for one meal is often exactly what you need to continue to stay on track!
None of this means you should start planning out your “free” meals on day 1 of a diet, though! There’s a strong argument for waiting a while first.
When And How To Incorporate A Cheat Meal
In our V Shred custom meal plans and fat-loss programs like Move, Fat Loss Extreme For Men and Women, we usually have clients commit to a full month of pretty dialed-in nutrition before they have a refeed, free meal, or cheat.
Here’s why: When you’re just starting out, your body is still primed for fat gain, not fat loss. If you start out by cutting back 1500 calories a day, 6 days a week, but still feast on 5000 calories on the seventh day, it will catch up with you. Sorry, that’s just how calories work.
But after at least a month of eating right and exercising consistently, you’re going to be in a much better place.
- Your blood sugar is more stable.
- Your metabolism is boosted.
- Your body is better equipped to take some extra carbs and calories from a big meal of all those foods you’ve been craving and use them to help you refuel and recover.
You will also be in a better mindset, which is also important when considering free meals. You have to be mentally ready to eat foods that could potentially trigger old eating patterns.
Remember, It’s A Cheat Meal, Not A Cheat Day
Now, to be clear, when you are given the green light to have a free meal, we’re talking about one meal, not an entire day.
One other thing. Don’t confuse a cheat meal with a treat. Say your coworker brings donuts to work, and you have one. Have you “cheated” or broken your diet? Definitely not!
If you’re tracking calories or macros in our V Shred App for IOS or Android, you can just track that donut and fit it into your daily “macro budget.” That’s one of the big advantages of a flexible dieting approach and why we recommend it.
Now, some of our clients complain of a little GI distress when they indulge in a free meal. To help with this, we suggest taking some quality digestive enzymes that can help assist in breaking food down so it can be easily digested.
Still Confused On How You Can “Cheat” And Still Lose Weight?
If you’re struggling to make sense of all these words–cheat, treat, refeed, etc.– we get it. You’re not alone. The confusion of “cheat meals” is one of the most discussed topics in our Facebook Group for Men and Women. We suggest jumping into these conversations and asking questions!
That’s also why we have a team of certified personal trainers and nutritionists at V Shred. They build custom diet plans to help make sense of nutrition and speed up our clients’ results every day.