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How to Cheat…on Your Meals

close up of fast food snacks and drink on table
fast food and unhealthy eating concept – close up of fast food snacks and coca cola drink on wooden table

Today is cheat meal day for me and I could not think of a better blog topic than cheats. A lot of inexperienced weightlifters might take a sigh of relief on their cheat day and think there are no rules.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cheat meals, like any other component of nutrition should be done sensibly. There are still some mistakes you can make and some tips you can incorporate in order to not erase your week’s hard work.

1) Cheat Meal Rather Than Cheat Day: Whether you allow yourself one or two cheat meals per week, I strongly suggest that you spread them out over two days. Don’t take a cheat day. It is incredibly difficult for your body to reset after you have been eating poorly all day. One cheat meal per day will be less damaging.

And with that…I gotta say this:

2) Eat Just One Cheat Meal: Everytime you cheat, you are taking a risk. You are risking not only erasing progress but also caving into the delicious food you are eating and continuing the cycle. I do recommend only having 1 cheat per week if you want to keep yourself motivated. When I was on vacation, I ate poorly all three days I was in paradise. Then when I got home, I ate poorly for another 2 days. It was really difficult to get the motivation to jump back on track because I was already in a habit of poor nutrition. It was very difficult to snap out of it, even though I had pre-packaged meals waiting for me at home!

3) Cheat In Moderation: Just because you are having a cheat meal does not mean that you should order food whose portion sizes are post on wall of restaurant worthy. Remember that it is healthy to cheat but sensible to eat a normal quantity. That means maybe 2 doughnuts instead of 6.

4) Go All Out: I know you are probably wondering how I can say you should go all out with your cheats after I just used the word moderate in my last tip. What I mean by going all out is ordering either an unhealthy side (fries) or a delicious dessert rather than a sirloin and rice from Chilli’s. That’s not really a cheat. That’s actually a few bodybuilder’s meal 5. Cheat meals should feel like cheats so that they are satisfying for you.

5) Remember to cheat and cheat guilt-free : Technically a cheat meal is a treat meal! Call it a treat meal if it helps you extinguish the guilt.  A lot of people have no desire to cheat. That’s great. But if you plan to, do it! And don’t feel bad afterwords! Cheat meals are not only essential to staying on your regimen after satisfying your craving but are also important to replace glycogen and fuel workouts. Cheat meals can also get you past plateaus by revving up your metabolism.

6) Plan your cheats wisely: Even though when Wednesday comes around I want to cheat on my diet, I don’t. I save cheat meal for when I see my fiancé or friends. Cheating is just so much better when I’m with someone or a group of people. I try to think ahead and see what events I have during the weekend and plan my cheat meal around that.

7) Split up dinner and dessert: A lot of people gasp in horror at having a cheat dinner and cheat meal in a row. I do that occasionally (and guilt-free).  I think it’s sensible to have a cheat burger and fries on Wednesday and then eat clean til Saturday night before you have some popcorn at the movies. If you know you’re craving dessert this week, do it. It’ll give you something to look forward to and you will actually enjoy that dessert rather than scarfing it down with a pending tummy ache.

8) Cheat then workout: Have a cheat prior to working out (hint: leg day). You will use up those extra calories by being active and being active helps you feel less lethargic post cheat.




Rupa is a certified personal trainer. She is also a graduate of Rhodes College. Rupa currently resides in Nashville, TN.

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