Does eating a cheat meal make sense?

Before answering the question posed in the title, let's consider what a cheat meal actually is. There is no National Council for Cheat Meals. The term cheat meal does not have a precise definition.

In the world of fitness, the term is used to describe a meal which:

  • you are allowed to enjoy after at least 7 days of a reduction diet,
  • has far more calories than a standard meal in the diet (approximately 1000 kcal per meal),
  • does not have to meet any “healthy food” criteria,
  • serves the purpose of breaking the monotony of the diet,
  • may but is by no means guaranteed to speed up metabolism, which may have slowed down due to the persistent energy deficit (the effect of a reduction diet).

… but does it really make sense?

A cheat meal can lead to eating disorders

I came across the claim that a “cheat meal” may lead to eating disorders in 2016 at the Institute of Psychodietetics in Wrocław.

The speakers were unanimous: promoting “cheat meals” negatively affects the overall perception of a healthy lifestyle, emphasizes the gap between what is seemingly healthy and unhealthy and strengthens the misconception that a healthy diet is an all-or-nothing affair.

The claim received strong support in 2018. A prestigious Elsevier journal published the results of a study, which showed a relationship between the use of cheat meals and increased risk of eating disorders (specifically: compulsive overeating).

The idea of a cheat meal seems right: you break the routine, indulge your taste buds, take a rest from the regime of the diet. But why not plan your diet so that you don't need to rest from it?

[Translate to English:]

Unhealthy food can be part of a healthy lifestyle

You lose weight when you create a calorie deficit. The deficit should be neither too large, nor too small. Remember that the calorific value of the reduction diet should not be lower than the Basal Metabolic Rate. If you observe the rules, supply your body with the right amount of protein and vary your diet, you need not worry about slowing down your metabolism.

The more you look forward to the cheat meal – finally to be able to indulge yourself – the greater the risk that… you'll slip up. If you can't find pleasure in your everyday diet (either healthy, tasty meals or less healthy snacks), there is a high risk that when you start your “cheat meal”, the cheating will go on much longer.

Why eat a cheat meal if you can eat what you want?

If you include in your diet calories that “pamper your palate” – about 20% of all the food you eat – you will find it easier to keep the calories that “make you healthy and slim.” The pursuit of a perfectly healthy lifestyle may end in frustration and discouragement. Just try to stick to the 80/20 rule and… enjoy the results!

This site uses cookies (a cookie is a small piece of information that is placed on your computer) for statistical  analytics, to keep  track of browsing patterns and help us to build up a profile for individual needs of the user. By leaving the cookies enabled in your browser settings, you agree to their use. If you do not agree to the use of cookies change the settings of your browser. Learn more.