After eating healthy throughout the week, the majority of us all feel like we need a well deserved cheat meal! Could be a Chinese, pizza or McDonalds, but question is... Do we really need them at all!?
What is a cheat meal?
As mentioned, a typical cheat meal is usually a meal out to a restaurant or a take away, and these are usually eaten as a reward after eating really well throughout your week. These meals can be also phrased as a 're-feed' day if you've been lowering your calorie and nutrient intake which can actually be very beneficial for your body to regain normality. Where it all starts to go down the drain is when people have 2 or 3 cheat meals a week, or you turn a cheat meal into a full cheat day! This is very common and is all down to self control and discipline, people feel like if they eat well, they need to reward themselves for it, but not everyone should.
The most important factor when regarding cheat meals is what is your goal!? If you want to bulk up and gain as much weight as possible, them high calorie cheat meals will be great! If you're aiming to lose 5 stone should they really even cross your mind? Different goals require different calorie intakes, different workouts, and different approaches.
Finding what your goal is and how important it is to you will give you a good idea of if you require many cheat meals or not, and be honest and realistic when slotting them into your weekly food plan. Now obviously some special occasions can't be avoided and should be celebrated, but then is it best to then leave them after that, and then continue being strict to help you reach your goal?
Different body types
Humans bodies are put into 3 types, ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, these are guides which every person can roughly link their body type to, this will determine particular characteristics linked to weight gain, metabolism speed, and activity level. So for example: an ectomorph who is typically taller and thinner, burns calories quick and finds it difficult to gain weight, if the example body type was to have 2 cheat meals a week, it may not be great for them health and nutrient wise, however they more than likely wouldn't see any change in their weight or appearance.
On the other hand, if an endomorph who is typically stockier, smaller, has a slow metabolism and finds it hard to lose weight ate 2 cheat meals a week, they would probably have a harder time burning it off and therefore would probably see a bigger change in their appearance. Know your body type, think about how a 'cheat meal' will affect your body personally, this will help determine how many you want, and if should have them at all.
Your job / activity levels
This leads me to your job and how many times you're training per week! Taking into account your goal and your body type, your job will then determine how you can judge how many calories you're probably burning a week. Desk jobs will obviously burn less calories than a personal training job, using your job will show your rough daily activity level.
If you want to lose weight and have an endomorph body type whilst working in an office, would I suggest you have cheat meals? No way! If you truly want to lose weight knowing you find it hard to burn calories whilst sitting at a desk the majority of your week, is it really a reward to have a high calorie cheat meal, or just a meal to lush you further away from your goal?
A mesomorph who's a personal trainer wanting to get bigger, with a fairly muscular build, moves about all day, whilst training and burning calories will be more inclined to having a cheat meal as they move more, burn more calories, and want to gain muscle, so it makes more sense for this person if they wanted to to have a cheat meal.
Remember that majority of people don't NEED a cheat meal, it just something we would LIKE. Be honest with yourself using your goal, body type and activity levels to realise if what you want temporarily will help you achieve what you want in the long term. If the answer is no, then stay strong, foccussed and disciplined to look at the bigger picture and not give into temptation! If you enjoy a cheat meal every week then great! If there's a birthday meal you have to go to then enjoy it! Just always be smart on the ratio of how good to how bad you're eating.