Cheat Meals and Cheat Days

hidden caloriesCheat meals and cheat days during dieting are meals or periods when you consume food that is not strictly calorie restricted or you consume food that you generally avoid during 'normal' dieting.

Depending on type of your diet, cheating can be just single meal or full day (12-24 hour period). Usually, cheat meal or cheat day is once a week, usually at weekend.

One must noted, that 'cheat' doesn't mean that you should binge like animal one day and than spend six days trying to get your self together :o)

After cheat meal or cheat day, body weight usually goes up because of additional carbs, sodium and gut content.

Carbohydrate Cycling Diet Cheat Meals

Carbohydrate Cycling Diet Cheat Meals can be once a week or every time we have high(er) carbs day. Depending on your calorie breakdown, you must calculate calories and nutrient content of your normal meals and PWM to see if there is a room for cheating. It is recommended not to binge once a week, rather distribute those calories over 2-3 high carb days and use those calories for last solid meal before and first solid meal after workout. That way you will feel more energetic during workouts, you will be able to train harder and with PWM and good first solid meal after workout, you will promote fat loss, muscle building and faster recovery. After all, that is the point of carbohydrate cycling diet - more calories around workouts.

If you are very strict during weekdays, even when cycling carbs and want to live a little, have a cheat meal for weekend. Try to have workout on that same day - hard one, hopefully before cheat meal. That way the calories from cheat meal are consumed while body is still under 'shock' of workout and is trying to recover - more calories are burned and less are stored.
Cheat meals on carb cycling diets should contain protein form animal sources, complex carbs, good fats. Some 'junk' food is tolerable, but don't overdo it. 'Junk' foods are sodas, sweets, candies, pizzas etc, but you can eat food that is baked or fried with as less fats as possible - all those calories count, remember that.

Keto Diet Cheat Meals

Keto Diet Cheat Meals are in fact cheat day. Depending on your keto diet, during a week you eat almost no carbs, so that body is in ketosis. For very short period during the weekend (12-24 hours, depending on the athlete), one should eat plenty of carbs, some protein and fats as less as possible. Short 'loading' period will keep the body in ketosis, but will make possible to fill empty glycogen reserves (very simplified, but hopefully you get the picture ...) and keep the willpower strong.
For cheat meals on keto diet one should eat foods that is rich in simple and complex carbs, have good protein profile and almost no fats. Cheat meals are combination of brown and white rice, whole wheat and ordinary pasta and bread, vegetables with some lean meat and fish. EPA/DHA/CLA supplements can be consumed, but not much.
Since of ample carbs intake, one should plan (at least) 2 (two) workout sessions in this 12-24h period - at least one hard workout in the gym, one on the track. This is plenty of workout when dieting, but in this 12-24h period you eat well above your maintenance level.

Liquid Diet Cheat Meals

To keep your sanity on Liquid Diet and to ease transitioning on and off diet, you can have one 'cheat' meal a week or if you are on not so strict liquid diet, once a day. Cheat meals are healthy solid food meals with no sugar, no fast carbohydrates, no bad fats. Forget pizzas, alcohol of any kind (beer, wine etc), candies, cakes, sweets, potatoes, white rice, white bread. But if you want to get shredded and last few kilograms of fat stubbornly refuse to go away or if you are so fat that you are sick of your body and want to get rid of 10-12 kg of fat in 4 weeks or if you are anything in between of these two examples but want to lose fat, than liquid diet (or any similar diet with such low calories) is the only way to go.

Calories in your cheat meal with its protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber content must coincide with calories and content of a shake that this 'cheat' meal has replaced. Food choices for cheat meal are thus limited to:

- Fish and vegetables
- Meat and vegetables
- Eggs and low-fat or cottage cheese omelet with vegetables

Generally, this meal should contain lean source of protein (fish, lean cuts of meat, omega-3 eggs, low fat and cottage cheese) and vegetables. You can grill, boil or steam your food, but don't add additional oil for preparing food. Olive or similar oils are ok for giving better taste, just be careful – one tablespoon of oil has 15g of oil (135 kcal). Eat lettuce or similar salad with this meal – without oil, just vinegar and some salt.

When you start to eat this meal – eat it slowly and chew it many times – I even often close my eyes when I eat such meals on such diets.
Best time of the week/day for such meal is as first meal after post workout meal (PWM) shake on training days. On non-training days avoid to have such meals or be very careful with meal content. Many coaches and nutritionists liquid diet with one solid meal per day don't even consider as liquid diet, but don't worry about that.

Cheat meals and cheat days will help you to keep your sanity while dieting, keep your energy levels, keep your willpower strong. But don't push it to much, because it can backfire easily.