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How Cheat Meals can actually be beneficial and knowing when enough is enough

Day 35 was last Sunday and the long awaited Cheat Meal that I had built up for over a month. So you can imagine when I woke up that the first thought was to eat everything under the sun. Surprisingly not. After a nice lie on that morning (that really doesn’t count as a lie on since I was up watching the fight the night before) I went into the town to grab breakfast with a couple of friends, craving some bacon and pancakes. It was more that I could to reward myself with pancakes rather than actually needing them. Man, they were good though! Tasting milk for the first time in 35 days was nice too with my cappuccino over my usual black coffee. It was definitely a good start to the day if not an ‘epic cheat meal’ start.

 Mmm... Pancakes

Mmm... Pancakes

I felt good about myself that I had accomplished my goals. I could visible see and feel the difference in myself. And I was definitely in a better mood in comparison to some of the last few days of the challenge (as mentioned in my previous blog). Next stop: all you can eat Chinese in town. And with a relatively small breakfast, I was ready to solely eat this place… dry? No, that’s not it. Anyhow. 

With all the carbs; noodles, chips, rice etc on offer, I went straight to the meat section. I’ve previously read from a few books that when planning your cheat meal, eat the protein off the meal first. This will help prevent you from over eating. And with more carbs being eaten first, you could risk them being stored as fat for later use.

Admittedly, none of that came to mind! It was a mere coincidence that I had two plates of mainly meat. I’m glad to say that I actually took my time and enjoyed the food rather than scoffing it down my throat, trying to eat as much as I possibly could. I was still hungry after plate number 2. However, thankfully there wasn’t a picture of my face when the waiter came over, just as I was about to grab my third and final plate, and informed us that the menus where changing as he handed us the bill. I was disgusted. Merely warming up on my feast day. And now I was being told to pay up and leave. 

But I wasn’t done yet…

Right in front of me, I could see the dessert selection. They had just brought out a huge chocolate cake. And there was no way I was leaving with out it. The pancakes for breakfast were just a case of me enjoying the fact I completed the challenge. But this cake? It was calling my name! No sooner had the waiter turned his back, I was gone. 2 slices of cake, a bowl of ice cream and some strawberry jelly. And it topped off the cheat meal very nicely. Cheeky? Yes. But it was Cheat Day. Rules are made to be broken. I was by no means stuffed but I had enjoyed the meals… and a few pints after too (even on a cheat day, alcohol is never good but sure look!) before heading back to the house. Damn my honesty.

 How could I leave without a slice of that cake? Look at it!

How could I leave without a slice of that cake? Look at it!

We were back at the house, watching the football (American, of course) and the day had all went according to plan. I was content. I was more than content, I was incredibly happy. It was a relaxing Sunday evening and I was really loving the football back with a few good friends. I was ready to get back on track the next morning. Telling everyone all day that I would still be back in the gym in the morning. Not breaking the routine. And then one of the lads mentioned ordering a pizza. It was at this point that I MAY have gotten a little greedy with my cheat day. The ego kicked in and it backfired spectacularly! “Yeah, I’ll eat a pizza. Meal deal? Sure why not!.”

The first slice? B-E-A-utiful. The second? ok. The third? Meh. The fourth? Couldn’t even finish it. And I hadn’t even got to the chips or side of chicken that came with the meal either. I was done. Finished. Stuffed. Tapping out. Saying Uncle. Not a single bite more. And I wasted all that food. 

 In my defence, only half the pizza was mine. So. Yeah. This was a foolish. No excuses.

In my defence, only half the pizza was mine. So. Yeah. This was a foolish. No excuses.


Monday morning and I was up at 7am. Once again, half out of stubbornness. I was back to my black coffee in the morning. It actually didn’t even cross my mind to put milk or sugar into the coffee. And I still haven’t had milk or sugar in my coffee so far this week. I didn’t feel too bad waking up either. The cheat day hadn’t affected how I performed in the gym and I didn’t feel bloated at all. A few more slices of pizza and that could have been a different story! There was an increase in craving for sugar foods but I found it very manageable. My meals were very similar to what I was having on the diet and it took until Tuesday to add more carbs back into my diet, as that revolves around my next challenge. Your insulin sensitivity levels increase with the leaner you get, allowing me to eat more carbs as my body fat is much lower than it was a few weeks ago. This is one of the reasons you have people who define themselves as ‘hard gainers’. Or as everyone else calls them, f*ckers who eat whatever the hell they want and never gain weight!

My nutrition now involves eating clean for the week, dedicating my Sunday evenings (my day off training) to a rewarding cheat meal. Not to stuff my face, to try and break records on how many tubs of Ben and Jerry’s I could have in a sitting… 3. No, I kid. But to have an enjoyable meal, something to look forward to while keeping myself motivated during the week to stay as healthy as I can. Cheat meals have shown to be just as effective, if not more so, than if I was to stay strict for the 7 days

Doing what I did for 34 days is not sustainable. Yes, it built a fantastic base for me to work on. But to do that and only have one cheat meal every 4-5 weeks is simply not realistic. So plan your cheat meals accordingly. Make sure you limit it to one sitting rather than a day long binge. Don't order a pizza after big meals is what I'm saying! Don't be that be that person. And just because it is a cheat meal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should be eating the worst thing possible for the sake of it. Know what you’re having, aim towards the goal and then enjoy it! A great one is going out to your favourite restaurant or planning it around an event you enjoy. Monitor your progress over then next few weeks as well and if your results do decline, your cheat meals are too frequent or you’re taking in too many calories.